Caitlin Strong wages her own personal war on drugs against the true power behind the illicit opioid trade in Strong from the Heart, the blistering and relentless 11th installment in Jon Land’s award-winning series.
The drug crisis hits home for fifth generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong when the son of her outlaw lover Cort Wesley Masters nearly dies from an opioid overdose. On top of that, she’s dealing with the inexplicable tragedy of a small Texas town where all the residents died in a single night.
When Caitlin realizes that these two pursuits are intrinsically connected, she finds herself following a trail that will take her to the truth behind the crisis that claimed 75,000 lives last year. Just in time, since the same force that has taken over the opiate trade has even more deadly intentions in mind, specifically the murder of tens of millions in pursuit of their even more nefarious goals.
The power base she’s up against―comprised of politicians and Big Pharma, along with corrupt doctors and drug distributors―has successfully beaten back all threats in the past. But they’ve never had to deal with the likes of Caitlin Strong before and have no idea what’s in store when the guns of Texas come calling.
At the root of the conspiracy lies a cabal nestled within the highest corridors of power that’s determined to destroy all threats posed to them. Caitlin and Cort Wesley may have finally met their match, finding themselves isolated and ostracized with nowhere to turn, even as they strive to remain strong from the heart.
Published by: Forge Books
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0765384701 (ISBN13: 9780765384706)
Series: A Caitlin Strong Novel, #11
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of fifty-two books, including eleven featuring Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. The critically acclaimed series has won more than a dozen awards, including the 2019 International Book Award for Best Thriller for Strong as Steel. He also writes the CAPITAL CRIMES series and received the 2019 Rhode Island Authors Legacy Award for his lifetime of literary achievements. A graduate of Brown University, Land lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
Q&A with Jon Land
What was the inspiration for this book?
Great opening question and let me answer it in a way you’re probably not expecting. I don’t draw on inspiration in the traditional sense of the word, because if you’re a professional the work, the writing, becomes its own inspiration. What inspires me when writing the Caitlin Strong series is what inspires every book I write: the desire to write a great story, to lose myself in the writing the same way you will hopefully lose yourself in the reading. In my mind, the most important thing for a writer is loving the story you’re telling. If you don’t love it, how can you expect the reader to love it? And the desire to tell a story that the reader loves makes for the greatest inspiration out there
What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?
As you know, I do an awful lot of these interviews and no one’s ever asked me that before. And the answer is a combination of remaining relevant as an author and, toward that end, the need to redefine myself more times that I’d care to admit. The simple fact of the matter is all but a very select few authors are in real control of their careers–you see their names high up on the New York Times bestseller list. The rest of us are subject to changes in the marketplace and the world. Like when the thriller genre collapsed at the time the Soviet Union dissolved in the early 1990s. Or, in my case, when the decline in sales for a series lead a publisher to say it’s time to do something else. Or when the mass market paperback industry collapsed and, with it, a great portion of my value as a writer. I don’t write four or five books a year because I want to, I write that much because I have to in order to make a living and pay the mortgage. So the challenge I’m really alluding to here is the need to balance creative concerns with the realities of financial concerns.
What do you absolutely need while writing?
Privacy, light, and my computer. Oh, and my imagination, of course, but that doesn’t take any breaks!
Do you adhere to a strict routine when writing or write when the ideas are flowing?
The volume of my work requires the former. You show me a writer who only works when the ideas are flowing and I’ll show you an amateur. Being a writer is a job. You get up and you do it every day, no matter your mood, no matter the bad emails that began the day, no matter how well, or not so well, your latest book is doing. Sticking to a routine requires the kind of self-discipline any self-employed professional must have or they’re not going to be chasing their dream very long.
Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
I’d have to say Colonel Guillermo Paz, Caitlin’s giant and brutally efficient protector who was originally hired to kill her. He wasn’t even supposed to survive the first book in the series, Strong Enough to Die, but he took his scenes over from me and had another idea. I liked how his character developed so much, I knew he had to stick around. His scenes are almost always my favorite to write and it’s such a blast to give him a new set piece to continue his search for enlightenment and redemption. Making one of the world’s deadliest men an elementary school gym teacher was an absolute blast in Strong from the Heart, and that opening scene where he rides to Caitlin’s support when she needs it the most against a half dozen heavily armed ICE agents is pure gold. I wish I could tell you where his dialogue comes from, but you’ll have to ask him!
Who is your least favorite character from your book and why?
Wow, I wasn’t expecting that one! So I hope you don’t mind me doing a bit of cop-out in my answer. Look, STRONG FROM THE HEART contains some pretty despicable villains and I don’t like any of them—as people—but as characters, well, that’s something else. In STRONG LIGHT OF DAY, the book’s villain Callum Dane early on beats an amputee to death with his prosthetic leg. How can anyone not hate him? You’re supposed to hate him as a person, but I had a blast writing him as a character because he was so heinous. Hey, I wish I had created Hannibal Lecter. I don’t like him either but I love him as a character as well.
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book?
I don’t have to cop out on that question, although I’m not sure I’d call them fun facts. Doing a book where Caitlin Strong takes on the opioid crisis, fighting her own personal War on Drugs, opened up a world to me that was confounding in the depth of the problem. 80,000 people are going to die this year of drug overdoses. There are over 3 million people in this country who are addicted to opioids. And the government has not only allowed this to happen, they actually enabled it because of the pharmaceutical lobby. Sure, public opinion has forced their hand in cases like Purdue Pharma, but this problem has existed for far longer than people realize and the individuals elected to represent us, and look out for our best interests, turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the problem for far, far too long. You want to know why we’ve been losing the War on Drugs since it was declared? Look no further than Washington, DC.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I want you to have as much reading STRONG FROM THE HEART as I did writing it!
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I went to Brown University with every intention of becoming a lawyer. Then I got bit by the writing bug, and everything changed—I changed horses in the middle of the stream, so to speak, something that Brown’s then New Curriculum allowed. So I knew I wanted to be a writer; I just didn’t know what kind of writer I wanted to be. My first book was actually a senior thesis in the Honors English and American Literature program. And I didn’t set out to write a thriller, so much as a Hollywood novel in the tradition of Nathaniel West’s The Day of the Locust. But the book became a thriller because that’s where my instincts took me. It was also the genre I enjoyed reading the most so it was natural for me to gravitate in that direction. That’s an important lesson for all writers because you can’t force the process. If you’re not being natural, instinctive, you’re going to write something that is not only unreadable, but also unpublishable.
What’s next that we can look forward to?
I’ve recently taken over Margaret Truman’s CAPITAL CRIMES series and my first effort, MURDER ON THE METRO, publishes next February. Having also done six books in the MURDER, SHE WROTE series, I understand the responsibility and risk that comes with taking over a major brand. In that respect, it’s a totally different process but in another respect, I don’t just want to write the characters, I want to take ownership of them the same way I do for my own. Something I never could have done a decade ago, but that I’ve grown into over the past few years.
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