WELCOME BACK JON LAND
Jon Land is the author of more than 30 thrillers, including the bestselling Caitlin Strong Texas Ranger series that includes Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance and, coming this August, Strong Rain Falling. This past fall he resurrected his longtime series hero Blaine McCracken in the E-Book Original Pandora’s Temple, which became a bestseller on both Apple and Amazon and was nominated for a Thriller Award as Best E-Book Original. A follow-up, The Tenth Circle, is slated for release in time for the holiday season. Jon’s first nonfiction book, BETRAYAL, meanwhile, was a national bestseller and was named Best True Crime Book of 2012 by Suspense Magazine. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be found on the Web at jonlandbooks.com.
Connect with Jon at these sites:
Q&A with Jon Land
CM: Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
JL: Great question to start! Never on personal experiences, all the time on current events. I live a pretty uninteresting life which is just the way I like and I’ve always said writers are mostly much better off writing from their imagination. My very good friend Steve Berry says, “Don’t write what you know, write what you love.” I couldn’t agree more. Current events, on the other hand, form the very fabric of modern thriller fiction. STRONG RAIN FALLING, for example, involves a massive attack to be launched against the nation’s power grid—there’s nothing more current than that. And current, in the thriller form anyway, normally means scary. The challenge is writing about something that could be about to happen, to stay ahead of the curve instead of behind it.
CM: Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the storyline brings you?
JL: I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer in all respects. I operate on the theory that if I don’t know what’s going to happen next, then the reader can’t possibly know. I can get away with this because I trust my characters to take me where they want and need to go. I’m normally about 100 pages ahead with where I’m headed in my mind, never much more than that. And the result, unfortunately at times, is my first drafts tend to need lots of work. In fact, I’d venture to say that one of my greatest strengths as a writer is actually rewriting, often based on my own objective read of what I’ve created. For me, first drafts area about getting it down and getting it done. Each successive draft hones and polishes the material further. I throw a bunch out, I add a bunch more—sometimes even entirely new characters, subplots and scenes if I sense a weakness or flaw. I’m also blessed with a terrific editor, Natalia Aponte, who’s always pushing me to do better, to make my Caitlin Strong books, and all my books for that matter, both structurally and emotionally complete. The thing I like to stress here is that no process works for all writers. We all have to find what works for us.
CM: Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
JL: Hey, you love those two-part questions, don’t you? (laughs) When I’m doing the hardest work of all, a first draft, I normally write in two shifts for two-three hours each that normally produces around 15-20 pages total. I’ll average 75-80 pages in a week and closer to the end will get over 100, so figure I can finish a first draft in around 7-8 weeks, a really fast clip. And part of the reason I’m able to do that is I’ve got two tricks I’ve come to rely on: First, I always leave a scene or chapter off in the middle, not the end, so I have a running start when I go back to work. There’s a tendency to want to stop writing at the end of a chapter just like there is when reading. I never stop there. Even if I get just the first couple paragraphs down, enough to provide direction, I’m good to go when I get back to the keyboard. I also always have a few books put aside by my favorite authors. Before putting my fingers to work, I’ll read 15-20 pages of their book (see below for more info on who!) just to get me in the right mindset, to remind me of what a great story reads like so I’m ready to write my own.
CM: Is writing your full time job?
JL: Yes, it is. That’s probably the shortest answer to a question I’ve ever given, so I better go on a little. I’d always planned on becoming a lawyer. But I got bit by the writing bug in college and fell in love with the process as well as seeing my name in print. That’s the thing about me: I actually love the process of writing. I can’t explain why or how I do it exactly. I just know I love where it takes me. It’s like therapy. When I’m not writing, I go into withdrawals. It’s like a legal drug.
CM: Who are some of your favorite authors?
JL: Well, THE EXORCIST was the first book I read cover-to-cover in a single day, a single setting actually. Reading Robert Ludlum’s THE HOLCROFT COVENANT (along with THE MATARESE CIRCLE) taught me more about what makes a great thriller than anything else. THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL taught me the importance of a great “What if?” question. THE STAND showed me the wonder of taking the reader out of his or her world and into the world we fashion on the page. MARATHON MAN made me realize just how much caring about the characters means. I can quote portions of that book, just as I can from the others I mention here and far more. As far as strictly favorites, Lee Child and James Lee Burke are the authors I most look forward to, with plenty of others not far behind. David Morrell, who never writes the same book twice. Stephen Hunter, who’s a maestro when it comes to action scenes. Michael Connolly for writing books that are impossible to put down. And I’ve recently discovered John Hart who seems incapable of writing a bad sentence or creating a character who doesn’t command our interest.
CM: What are you reading now?
JL: Lee Child’s second book, DIE TRYING. I’ve been saving it forever but the time finally came!
CM: Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
JL: Again, with the two-part questions! (laughs) The next book’s already done. It’s called THE TENTH CIRCLE and it’s the follow-up to PANDORA’S TEMPLE once again featuring Blaine McCracken, my original series hero I’ve fallen back in love with. Beyond that I’m actually working on three books: a sequel to my bestselling THE SEVEN SINS, a terrific project I’m doing in tandem with the great Heather Graham, and I’m just about to start STRONG DARKNESS, the next book featuring Caitlin that takes her and Cort Wesley Masters to a very dark place potentially. I’m going to take her right up to the edge, but hopefully not so close that she slips over.
CM: Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
JL: Bruce Willis for Blaine McCracken—that’s the easy one. For Caitlin, let’s see, Eva Mendez maybe. Hillary Swank. Jennifer Garner. Maybe I should Google “strong actresses in their mid-30s and see what I get! In film, the budget to a large extent is determined by the box office value of your store. So if I wanted the biggest budget I’d have to say Angelina Jolie, but she might be a bit old. Hey, Sandra Bullock is too old too but she lives in Texas so who knows?
CM: Would you rather read or watch television or a film?
JL: Okay, confession time: this is the golden age of scripted television and I can’t get enough of shows like THE WALKING DEAD, BREAKING BAD, JUSTIFIED, MAD MEN, DEXTER, GAME OF THRONES—the list goes on and on. But here’s the thing, the crucial disclaimer: I love those kind of shows because their novelistic in structure. Watching them week to week is like watching a novel. That’s why I don’t “binge watch” the way a lot of people are these days. I prefer to look forward to the next week’s episode in the arc, to be kept in suspense. Call it practicing what I preach.
CM: Favorite food?
JL: Nothing beats a great steak, but lobster comes close. And I have a bagel for breakfast almost every day.
CM: Favorite beverage?
JL: Iced tea—no doubt about it. Been that way for as long as I can remember. Of course, since I’m a writer, I probably should have said scotch, or maybe bourbon. Hell, anything that makes me forget what a tough business this is truly is!
Thank you Jon for stopping by today and answering my 2 part questions!! (chuckling)
ABOUT THE BOOK
Mexico, 1919: The birth of the Mexican drug trade begins with opium being smuggled across the U.S. border, igniting an all-out battle with American law enforcement in general and the Texas Rangers in particular.
The Present: Fifth Generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong and her lover, former outlaw Cort Wesley Masters, both survive terrifying gun battles. But this time, it turns out, the actual targets were not them, but Masters’ teenage sons.
That sets Caitlin and Cort Wesley off on a trail winding through the past and present with nothing less than the future of the United States hanging in the balance. Along the way they will confront terrible truths dating all the way back to the Mexican Revolution and the dogged battle Caitlin’s own grandfather and great-grandfather fought against the first generation of Mexican drug dealers.
At the heart of the storm soon to sweep away America as we know it, lies a mastermind whose abundant power is equaled only by her thirst for vengeance. Ana Callas Guajardo, the last surviving member of the family that founded the Mexican drug trade, has dedicated all of her vast resources to a plot aimed at the U.S.’s technological heart.
This time out, sabotage proves to be as deadly a weapon as bombs in a battle Caitlin must win in cyberspace as well. Her lone chance to prevail is to short-circuit a complex plan based as much on microchips as bullets. Because there’s a strong rain coming and only Caitlin and Cort Wesley can stop the fall before it’s too late.
READ AN EXCERPT
Published by: Forge Books
Publication Date: August 13, 2013
Number of Pages: 368
Series: Caitlin Strong, 5
(Can be read as a Stand Alone)
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