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July 2009

July 2, 2009

Characters from both series meet

I guess as good a point to start as any is with one of the three main characters in UNDONE. Hopefully, some of y’all are familiar with Sara Linton, Will Trent and Faith Mitchell. I am a devoted series book reader, and I know that some folks like one author’s series over another, and some folks are really loyal to one series and never read the other, and some folks are really loud about it. I guess maybe some of these some folks I’m talking about might be thinking I am a sneaky goober for combining the two. I hope in the end that you enjoy the combination. I certainly did.

Let me begin with Sara Linton. She is from Grant County. She’s a pediatrician by training, and while she was living in Grant, she was also the town coroner. If you’re not familiar with how small towns work across America, the job of coroner is usually an elected position, so basically all you need to do in order to become the coroner is (1) get enough people to vote for you and (2) not be afraid of touching dead people. The fact that Sara Linton is a medical doctor (believe it or not, there are some dentists thrown in there) is very rare for a town Grant County’s size. Generally, the local mortician takes the job, and if he gets anything hinky, he calls in the state to help out. In Georgia, that phone call is made to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is to the state what the FBI is to the nation. Lots of states have state bureaus of investigation, but not all of them do. Georgia was one of the first, and our locals have worked cases from the Atlanta Child Murders to the Tri-State Crematory to Gary Hilton, a serial killer who was caught last year.

Sara had something bad happen to her in Grant County (which readers of Beyond Reach will know about). After spending a year in agony, she decided that the only way she was going to get on with her life was to move away from everything she knew: her family, her job, her hometown. I have always loved writing about Sara because she has such a strong moral compass. She also loves her family very much. They have been there for her at every step of her life, which makes her even more unanchored when she leaves them. I think it’s important to change things up for characters as much as I can because, once you become too familiar with them, you can get complacent. Sara still has a lot of secrets about herself that need to be told, and I like doling them out slowly.

When UNDONE opens, we find Sara working in the emergency room at Grady Hospital. Grady is a public hospital, a level-four trauma center — one of the only in the region — and it’s a great place to go if you’ve been shot or stabbed or air-lifted after a bad car accident, but if you go there with a cold or a tummyache, you’d better be prepared to wait six hours to see a doctor. It was one of the first hospitals to offer treatment for AIDS patients, the first to focus on women’s health, and it is always the last to get any money from the state and federal government. Grady is shamefully underfunded and vital to the local community. But, I’m not here to lecture you on the desperate state of the hospital system, so, let’s get to the crime that opens UNDONE:

Sara is about to end her shift when a woman is rushed into the emergency room. Battered and beaten, she’s barely awake — and barely alive. A quick exam shows untold horrors have been visited on the victim. Signs of torture riddle her body, and when Sara looks at her X-Rays, an even more dastardly detail is realized.

To be continued…

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July 6, 2009

Have you met Will Trent ?

I left off with Sara finding out some really bad things about her patient in Grady’s ER. I think this is a good time to talk about the second narrator in UNDONE, Will Trent — mostly because Will is there in the emergency room while Sara is trying to treat the poor woman.

Writers tend to want to write about things they are familiar with, and this means that they tend to write about readers. Maybe they don’t do it on purpose, but you rarely find a character in a book who doesn’t like to read books — unless this revelation is meant to imply they are extremely stupid or capable of mass murder. I thought it would be interesting to write about a character who wanted to read, but couldn’t; at least not well. Will Trent, is dyslexic. Though he’s never been properly tested, he would fall somewhere on the level of a second or third grader. So, this means that while you and I can read this blog in about two minutes, Will would take closer to ten. I know a little bit about dyslexia because my sister is mildly dyslexic. Only, they didn’t call it that when we were in school — they just said she was stupid. She is older than me, and when we were kids, I used to read the stuff she was supposed to be reading in school, which is what really made me love reading. I saw how it opened new worlds and offered a great escape. So, when I write about Will, I think about her.

One of the things people ask is, “how did Will get into the GBI if he’s such a slow reader,” to which I say, “Keep reading the books and you’ll find out.” There are lots of things about Will Trent that people don’t know yet, mainly about his early life circumstances. Such as —

We know from Triptych and Fractured that Will Trent grew up in an orphanage. In UNDONE, we find out the circumstances. We also meet his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Angie Polaski. Boy, is she a piece of work. She’s at once the best and worst thing that has ever happened to Will. His entire life is wrapped up in her in a kind of Flowers in the Attic way, where she’s his lover, his friend, and in some ways his sister because they grew up together at the orphanage. She’s also awful to him. She leaves him, she’s mean to him, and she’s kind of trashy. She is also all he has ever known, so it’s incredibly hard for Will to break from her. Without Angie, he has no one.

Or, maybe he doesn’t any more, which brings us to his new partner, Faith Mitchell.

to be continued…

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July 7, 2009

CHECK OUT THE FIRST READER REVIEWS SENT IN FROM THE WINNERS OF THE NEIGHBOR GIVEAWAY

“Lisa Gardner’s The Neighbor is not your everyday murder/mystery novel. At its heart is a story about a not so conventional family who against the odds finds one another and makes it work. But when the wife, Sandra Jones, goes missing everything begins to fall apart. When the murders do begin Gardner gives you so many possible culprits you’ll be sitting on the edge of your seat! If you enjoy reading about dark family secrets and suspense that carries you all the way to the end, then you will devour this book. Its complex characters, whose hearts and souls breathe life into the story, are captivating. You will no longer look at your “neighbor” the same way again. I give it 5 stars!!”
-Amanda

“I found this book to be one of the better mysteries she has done. I loved the twists and different people involved throughout making the story a true page-turner. Gardner builds up suspense brilliantly and wraps up her story with a series of genuine surprises and a final clever twist.”
-Kristina

“The Neighbor is a fantastic read. From the first page, there were twists and turns that keep you guessing until the totally surprising ending. I loved this book and would highly recommend it to any mystery buff!”
-Darlene

“While I have read all of her books, I want to say this is one of her best. Keeps you guessing right until the end. I highly recommend it.”
-Susan

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July 8, 2009

Jack Wakes Up - 9 and new blog post on Open Culture

I’m here today with a new blog post from the Open Culture blog on what it’s like to be a newly published first-book author. Read my View from the Bookstore Shelf here.

One point I make is, “we better enjoy the climb.” See why.
I’ve also just invented a new form of author outreach: The Hot Tub Castâ„¢. Want to see what it’s all about? Come over to sethharwood.com

But I would not visit without more free content. Here is episode 9 of JACK WAKES UP (right-click to download).
Listen here:






Remember, you can also
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or Subscribe for free in other ways.

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July 9, 2009

Faith Mitchell’s new life chapter

Faith Mitchell is a lot of fun for me to write. She came from a question I asked myself a few years ago when the movie Juno was really popular: what happened to women my age who got pregnant in high school? Well, I can tell you they weren’t trading snappy quips at the Stop-N-Shop and surrounding by caring, supportive people who thought they were smart enough to make their own choices. There were some girls in my high school who got knocked up, and we basically never saw them again. Well, we saw one of them, and she was a lovely girl and a good friend, but her life was not easy.

So, Faith is now thirty-three and he son is eighteen. Do the math — she didn’t have much of a childhood. Jeremy, her son, is in college at Georgia Tech and she’s just at a point in her life where she’s finally able to be alone. I mean, think about it: she’s had a kid since she was fifteen. She hasn’t had much of a chance at a non-mother life. While she loves her son, she’s really looking forward to this new chapter. Of course, since this is one of my books, it can’t be that easy for her.

What I love most about Faith is that she is extremely pragmatic. She’s a detective on the Atlanta police force, partnered with a less-than-stellar cop. Her career is in limbo and she’s just getting through the days, counting down her time. When she meets Will in Fractured, she doesn’t like him much for reasons I won’t go into here, but over the course of the book, she learns to respect him as a cop. This is a big step for Faith, and she decides to accept the invitation to join the GBI and be Will’s partner. This is where they are in UNDONE: newly partnered, trying to figure out each others’ quirks.

Faith has two ways of dealing with people: either mother them or push them away. Will has been pushed away most of his life, and he has never had a mother, so he doesn’t know how to deal with Faith. They also have very different policing styles. Faith is more of a get-in-your-face kind of cop and Will is more cerebral. This is a nice change for me because it’s good to see a man who doesn’t use his fists all the time to get the bad guys to confess. The change isn’t so great for Faith, though, because it creates tension between them that she’s not sure is going to go away.

We are getting really close to the publication date of UNDONE (July 14) so I am going to leave talk about characters here. I’ll post again on publication day, but for now, thanks for reading, and I hope you check me out on my website and Facebook.

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July 13, 2009

The Origin of Jonathan Quinn

I’ve always been fascinated by what happens AFTER a major event (like a shoot out, a car chase, or an assassination.) When I would read these kinds of scenes in books, I would begin to wonder what happened to the people involved. What happened to the wreckage? What happened to the BODY?

It’s that last question that led me eventually to Jonathan Quinn. Quinn’s profession is that of a cleaner. No, not like that cleaner on TV who is trying to get other people drug free. Quinn is a cleaner in the tradition of Harvey Keitel’s Winston Wolfe character in Pulp Fiction, and Jean Reno in La Femme Nikita. His job is to come in after a hit, or, perhaps, after an operation has gone wrong and get rid of the bodies. And by get rid of, I mean never to be found again.

Quinn is good at his job, very good. In fact, most of the time, his assignments go without a hitch. Of course, those aren’t the stories from his life I’ve chosen to tell. To me, his more interesting adventures are when things don’t go the way he expects, and he gets pulled into situations he would rather avoid.

But Quinn has two qualities that could be seen as either strengths or flaws. He is very ethical, so if he sees something that is wrong and there is something he can do about it, he will. The second is his sense of honor. If he makes a promise, he keeps it. Even if that means doing jobs he would otherwise turn down.

That’s what happens in the latest Quinn thriller, SHADOW OF BETRAYAL. He had made a promise to a client that in exchange for help the client gave him on a personal matter, Quinn would do three jobs no questions asked. In SHADOW OF BETRAYAL, the client calls in those markers, and Quinn and his team are sucked into a mission that is out of control from the very beginning.

Just a quick note to point out that in the UK the same book is entitled THE UNWANTED, so don’t think there’s an extra Quinn novel out there. Well, technically there is…it’s still on my computer and will be out next year! But this year it’s SHADOW OF BETRAYAL. I do hope you enjoy it.

Click here if you’d like to sign up for my newsletter. Also you can read more about the first two Quinn adventures, THE CLEANER and THE DECEIVED, on my website.

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July 14, 2009

Today’s the day!!! Get Undone!

Hurray! Publication day! I’m very excited about UNDONE coming out today. My usual launch will take place at one of my favorite B&N’s in Norcross, Georgia. I live in Atlanta, which is about 20 miles away from Norcross, but with traffic it can sometimes take an hour to get there. Since I hate being too early, I usually miscalculate, not to mention my GPS doesn’t really know where the store is, so it tells me to “take a right turn on the next unnamed road,” which, I don’t know if you’ve ever had that happen before, but when you’re late, it literally makes your stomach explode in a hail of stress and fury. So, this is to say, I might be late.

I hope y’all have enjoyed my blogging. Please check with me on my newsletter and stuff, which you can read about here and look in on my contest winners, which are here. Thanks so much for reading my blog and I hope you can come see me on my tour, posted here, when I am in Washington, DC; Rehoboth Beach, DE; Austin, TX; Killeen, TX; Seattle, WA; San Diego, CA; Petoskey, MI; Gaylord, MI; Atlanta, GA; and Pawley Island, SC. Wow, that’s a lot of flying! If you can’t make it out to see me, then you can call ahead to the store and ask them to reserve a signed copy. You can find details on stores here. Just give them a call and they’ll be happy to help.

Meanwhile, look for me at my website and on Facebook.

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July 14, 2009

Free Chapters from Shadow of Betrayal by Brett Battles

Brett Battles knows how to take readers on a pulse-pounding journey. And SHADOW OF BETRAYAL marks the third novel in his gripping Jonathan Quinn series. Following The Cleaner, which was nominated for both a Barry and Shamus Award, and The Decieved, Battles delivers another thriller you won’t be able to put down.

Here are the facts:

The hero: Jonathan Quinn—one part James Bond and one part Jason Bourne. He’s a freelance operative “cleaner” charged with the disposal of bodies someone wants to keep from being found.

The situation: Three jobs, no questions. That was the deal Quinn struck with his client at the Office. Unfortunately for him, Ireland was just the first. Now Quinn, along with his colleague and girlfriend—the lethal Orlando—has a new assignment sparked by the killings in Ireland and leading to an international smuggling ring.

Opening lines: “The details of the exchange, what the information was and what the informant was earning for his efforts, were none of Quinn’s business. He was a cleaner. His job was to watch and observe, and—only if necessary—clean up any mess that might occur.”

What others have said: “The best word I can use to describe his writing is addictive. Razor-sharp prose bites deep, cuts to a raw nerve, and leaved you …craving more.” —James Rollins


Read an excerpt:

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July 14, 2009

Bibliotech Interviews Author Seth Harwood

Listen up, kids: Crime doesn’t pay, see? You can’t just do drug deals with Czechoslovakians and expect that’s going to turn out ok, see? The world don’t work that way! Nawp.

Instead, you gotta write your novel. You gotta get out there and plug it any way you can. You gotta stick a price on it’s head and say, come alone! no cops! no guns! Or the book gets it! That’s what crime novelist Seth Harwood did.

Now he’s the big boss, the guy pulling the strings, the man behind the man. Hmm. Maybe crime DOES pay! We talk with Seth about his novel JACK WAKES UP, how he landed his book deal and how he used online media to get there.

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July 16, 2009

When a Place is More Than Just a Location

While Quinn, Orlando, and Nate are the main characters of the Quinn thrillers, and there is a group of sometimes rotating secondary characters that appear and reappear as needed, there is also a character in each novel that you might not realize is there.

That character is location.

What do I mean by this? When I set out to write THE CLEANER, the first Quinn book, I knew I wanted to make it broad in scope. In other words, I didn’t want to confine his stories to just one city, or one state, or even one country. It wanted them to be international, in the way that I had enjoyed international thrillers in the past. I wanted the locations to come alive, and not just be places where conversations occurred and actions took place. I wanted them to be characters. I wanted the reader to feel like they were really in the cities and countries I took them to.

Which meant, of course, the places Quinn would visit had to be places I had visited also, because it’s hard to get the feel for a location just by using the Internet. I’ve been lucky, and have done a lot of travel in my life. Before it would be for whatever company I might have been working for, or on a vacation. Now I travel for Quinn, deciding where I want a story set and going there to get the lay of the land.

For THE CLEANER, I relied on locations I had visited in the past. The two places that seemed to naturally fit as I was writing were Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Berlin, Germany. I loved the feel of each city, the smells, the sights, the texture of life. So I strove to recreate my impression on the page. In THE DECEIVED, Quinn travels to Singapore, a place I also love.

I wanted to start SHADOW OF BETRAYAL someplace that would be both interesting and unusual. As I thought about it, the memory of a trip I had taken in the early 90s came back to me. I had gone to Europe to visit some friends. I spent some time in the UK and in Belgium, then one of my friends and I went to Ireland for a week. There we rented a car and drove around the southern part of the country.

One day we were on this very quiet road just enjoying the beautiful green scenery. We came around this one corner, and there, a little off to the side, was what looked like a church. I say looked like because it was obvious no one used it any more. Bushes and trees were growing up all around it.

We stopped the car and got out for a look. It was completely fascinating. It was this small, stone church, complete with a little graveyard. There were no doors or windows on the church, just holes where they’d been. There was also no roof. Inside the walls of the church, more bushes and trees were growing creating a de facto Mother Nature congregation. It was odd and beautiful.

As I was remembering this, I realized that this church would be the perfect place for the opening scene of SHADOW OF BETRAYAL. Of course, I had to make a few adjustments, like setting the church further back from the road, and making said road even less travelled than it was. The truth is, I don’t even know if the church is still there or not, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still there in my mind and that’s what I wrote, turning this little part of Ireland into a minor character in my book.

I hope you enjoy the location characters as much as I enjoyed writing them. And don’t worry, Quinn’s travels are nowhere near done.

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July 21, 2009

Conversations on the Coast: JACK WAKES UP

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting with Jim Foster on his superlative author interview show, Conversations on the Coast. It’s a quick 19 minute segment and I have it here for you! (direct download)

This show was originally featured on Green 960, San Francisco.

Listen here:






I’ll be back soon to give you more free audio content from JACK WAKES UP, but if you’d like to hear ALL of the book, right now, it’s all here, all free: sethharwood.com.

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July 22, 2009

The Untold Story of Nate

I’ll tell you an interesting story about Nate. First, for those of you who don’t know who Nate is, he’s Jonathan Quinn’s apprentice in my Quinn thriller series (THE CLEANER, THE DECEIVED, and this summer’s SHADOW OF BETRAYAL.) Nate is still young, twenty-five, I believe, in SHADOW OF BETRAYAL, but he’s come a long way from the kinda cocky joker he was in THE CLEANER. He’s still got a great sense of humor, but he’s also got a lot more experience, and has reached that point where he knows he doesn’t know everything.

But the truth is, Nate nearly didn’t make it past the first one hundred pages of the first book, THE CLEANER. That’s right, in an early draft I killed him off. If you’ve read THE CLEANER, you might remember the scene in Quinn’s house when someone tries to break in to kill him. Originally, that’s where Nate met his demise.

I know, I know. What was I thinking? The answer is, apparently, whatever I was thinking was wrong! Thank God someone talked me out of it, and not just because Nate is a great (and useful) character. You see, after she read THE CLEANER, my mother told me her favorite character was Nate.

That’s right. My mom. In fact, I believe her words were something like, “You’d better not let anything happen to Nate.”

Those of you who have read the first two books, know that I haven’t exactly been kind to Nate, but what I haven’t done is kill him off. Will I in the future? Who knows? But if I do, I know I’m going to have to answer to mom, so my guess is Nate will be around for a while.

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July 23, 2009

Two Great Blog Posts and More FREE Content!

First, if you’re interested in the story of how I got my first book published, I’d like to point you toward two new blog posts about JACK WAKES UP: at The Signal and then, at Working Writers, Cherie Burbach says,
Seth Harwood is the perfect example of a writer who didn’t give up. How many of us get rejection once or twice, and figure that we’re not meant to be a writer? Seth didn’t do that. Instead, he came up with a unique way to get the attention of readers, and in doing so, got himself a book contract. See if his path doesn’t inspire you as well!

I hope you’ll check it out!

But would I come to you without more free content? Of COURSE not! Here, today is JACK WAKES UP - Episode 10 of the FREE audiobook!
Want to hear the WHOLE BOOK for free? OK, just head here and you can get ALL 20 episodes. No more wait!







Want the whole book FREE on iTunes? Go here.
If you’d like to start reading the book to get a taste, here are the first three chapters as a FREE PDF. Or buy a print copy of the book.

Do I like Chris Anderson? Oh yeah, I do!

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July 25, 2009

Some Thoughts On Writing A Series

Writing a series is a tricky thing. You want to write each book so that it can be picked up and read, in effect, as a stand alone. Yet you also want there to be continuity running from novel to novel to novel.

In a way it’s kind of like doing a television series. Back in pre-1990s television, not exclusively, but for the most part, if you watched a television series it would basically reset itself each week. What I mean by this is that each episode would seldom be affected by the episode that preceded it. One week, Richie Cunningham of HAPPY DAYS fame could break his arm, but the next week his arm is fine and there’s not even a reference to it. Or one of Charlie’s Angels could meet a great guy one week, and completely have forgotten about him the next.

So what was really happening was that the characters on those shows weren’t growing. They were static, unchanging. (Okay, some of them had some changes, but they were very controlled and mostly minor.)

That used to drive me crazy! I’d want to know what happened to Richie’s arm, or why Angel Sabrina was suddenly single again.

Lately, though, television has gotten its act together. Shows have continuity. What happened one week effects what happens the next. You can see growth in the characters. You know the reason someone acts a certain way in episode 10 is because of their experience in episode 3. I think it’s great.

For most of these shows you can still jump in at any point and enjoy what is going on without having seen the whole season. But for some you can’t. Take LOST, for instance. If you haven’t been watching from the beginning, you’re probably going to be hopelessly…well…lost. While it’s worked for LOST, doing that can be a danger. You can lose viewers, because if they start missing an episode here and there, they have a hard time picking it up again later, and ultimately they say, “Why bother?”

That’s the same danger you run into with a series. Make each book too dependent on the one that came before and you will be narrowing your audience with each new release. So you’re left with two choices: 1) the static/reset approach, or 2) let your characters change and grow, but make sure that the book still stands alone.

For me, the static/reset approach is not an option. It just doesn’t work for me personally. Not in the stories I want to tell, anyway. So it’s number 2 that I strive for.

My main character, Jonathan Quinn, has definitely come a long way in my new book, SHADOW OF BETRAYAL, from when we met him first in THE CLEANER. And, just to give you a preview of things to come, he has a long way still to go. But not only Quinn has changed, so has his apprentice Nate, and his partner/girlfriend Orlando. So have some of his clients. But each story, each book still stands on its own. You don’t have to read THE CLEANER before you pick up THE DECEIVED. And you don’t have to read THE DECEIVED before you read SHADOW OF BETRAYAL. (Though I would remiss if I didn’t suggest reading them all in whatever order you like!)

As I move forward with the series (and, yes, there will be another Quinn thriller next year), I will continue to work hard at creating this evolving world I’ve created while writing books that can be read without any previous exposure to Quinn’s life. It’s part of the challenge, and part of the fun.

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July 28, 2009

Free Chapters from Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay

Linwood Barclay is a #1 bestselling author in Britain and a major suspense super star throughout Eurpope. It’s about time American readers caught on to the novelist Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Tess Gerritsen, Joseph Finder, Charlaine Harris, and Steve Berry all rave about. And once you start his latest thriller, FEAR THE WORST, you will see why his books are so addictive and worthy of your attention.

Here are the facts:

The players: Tim Blake, a recently divorced father and experienced car salesman, who thought he knew his teenage daughter as well as he could know anyone.

The situation: Tim’s daughter is spending the summer with him and working at a local hotel. One night, she doesn’t return home from work, and as time passes he begins to worry. So he drives to the hotel. The manager tells him that his daughter doesn’t work there; in fact, they’ve never even heard of her. And just like that, the world Tim thought he knew becomes a strange and terrible place.

Opening lines:: “I used to wonder how people did it. You’d watch the news, and there’d be some couple who’d lost a child in a fire. The mother of that girl who went missing in Bermuda and was never found. A father whose son was killed in a bar fight. Once, there was this story about a girl whose class went on a skiing trip, and there was an avalanche and she was buried under several feet of snow and the rescue workers couldn’t find her. And there were the parents, weeping, holding out hope their daughter was still alive, and you knew there was simply no way.”

What others have said: “What a story! Holds the reader in a tight grip, as good and evil match wits and wiles. Barclay pushes the envelope of suspense to the edge and beyond, offering a revealing peek into the human psyche, exploring every parent’s worst fear. This is imaginative and scintillating, and you’ll enjoy every page.”
—Steve Berry


Read an excerpt:

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July 29, 2009

Linwood Barclay on Fear the Worst

Fear the Worst hits bookstores in just a couple of weeks, and many
readers are already calling it the best of my thrillers so far. Fast-
moving, loads of suspense, a real page-turner. But something no one
seems to have zeroed in on is the thing that makes this thriller very
different.

The hero is a car salesman.

In most thrillers, our protagonist is, to varying degrees, familiar
with crime and those who practice it. Maybe he or she’s a spy, or ex-
military. A cop or a private detective. An FBI agent. A profiler, maybe.
But the hero is not, generally, someone who sells Honda Accords.
People who sell Hondas are not typically acquainted with the bad guy
element. (I’d like to go out on a limb here and say this is also true
of people who sell Fords, Toyotas, Nissans, and most other makes.) Tim
Blake, who tells the story and sells Hondas for a living, has had his
share of troubles over the years, but none that brought him face to
face with fraud artists, human traffickers and killers. But when his
daughter Sydney goes missing, he finds himself getting introduced to a
whole new class of people.

When I was thinking about what the hero in this book would do for a
living, I knew I didn’t want it to be police work. I had no interest
in having him work for a secret government agency. I didn’t want him
to be a reporter. (That’s my next book.) I wanted him to have a
normal, everyday job. And that’s when “car salesman” popped into my
head.

Let’s face it, car salesmen get kind of a bad rap. And that’s too bad.
I have a couple of good friends who have sold cars their entire
working lives. I’ve bought cars from them, and i’ve been happy with
the deals they gave me. And they both helped me with this book.
But our relationship with car salesmen (and saleswomen) tends to be
somewhat adversarial. We want to get the car for as little as
possible. They want to make the deal, getting as much profit as
possible. We need wheels and they need the commission. We say we can’t
spend that much, they say they can’t do it for that. Finally, they
say, “Let me talk to my manager and see what we can do.”
That, we figure, is when they wander out back of the dealership and
have a smoke.

Anyway, once I’d made up my mind what Tim was going to do for a
living, I invited my retired car salesmen friends Carl and Mike out
for lunch and asked them to tell me their best stories. LIke the one
where the guy took a pickup truck for a test drive and used it to
deliver manure. (That story finds its way into Fear the Worst.) Or
that other test-drive when a new Toyota Celica ended up sitting atop a
fireplug, and the prospective buyer was nowhere to be found. They had
great tales, and what came out was that they’d really enjoyed their
careers. Why? “Because of the people,” they both said.

I like writing about people — regular people. I like writing about
what happens to ordinary folks when extraordinary things happen to
them. Tim Blake is a regular guy about to be plunged into a parent’s
worst nightmare. Nothing in his life has prepared him for what’s about
to happen.

I like that.

I just returned from promoting Fear the Worst in New Zealand, having already spent a few days in Hong Kong and two weeks in Australia. Everyone down here is pumped about Fear the Worst, and I’m hoping North American readers will feel the same when the book comes out Aug. 11.

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