Tonight at 7PM, Matthew Quirk comes to the store to discuss and sign The Directive, the pulse-pounding sequel to The 500. He will be joined by David Hansard for what is sure to be a thrilling evening. Prior to the event, MysteryPeople had the chance to catch up with our author.
MysteryPeople: For you, is The Directive more about Mike Ford being forced to commit a crime or about him trying to get married to Annie?
Matthew Quirk: For a thriller, the main action plot always drives the book, but I was glad I could tightly weave what is going on in Ford’s life into the crimes. I started this book with a challenge for Mike: what if the only way to keep the honest, decent, respectable life you’ve worked so hard to win was to return to the criminal past you left behind? Could he and Annie survive?
MP: A major part of the novel involves ripping off the Fed. How did you prepare for your characters taking on such a high security area?
MQ: I learned to pick locks myself. To map out the main action, I spoke with red team security experts, hackers, lockpickers and Fed insiders to map out what a true-to-life 21st century heist would look like. I also “cased” the Fed in person, and was able to access a high-security floor without being challenged. I was surprised I managed it, and then had one of those moments where you say, “Oh damn. This isn’t a novel. I’ve got to get out of here.”
MP: You’ve always put Mike with his family. What attracted you to this aspect of him?
MQ: It makes the novels much more real, and the suspense more grounded, when the main character has a family and an everyday life that readers and I can relate to. It also lets me draw on what I have happening in my own life for the books.
MP: What do you enjoy most about writing in the genre?
MQ: In college, my creative writing courses were mostly literary, domestic realism, the kind of fiction you see in The New Yorker. Then when I went to The Atlantic, I was surrounded by a lot of incredibly compelling stories from politics and foreign affairs and rediscovered how great a thrilling, fast-paced narrative can be. That turned me on to writing thrillers, which I had grown up reading. I love being able to blend action and real-life reporting to make a compelling story.
MP: As a writer what makes Mike Ford worth coming back to?
MQ: I like that he’s an everyman for the most part. He reacts to these dangerous situations in the same way I think a lot of us would. He doesn’t go on and on about what a tough guy he is, but always steps up when things get dicey. He also has these cool skills of confidence games and lockpicking which are fascinating to research and write about and learn how to do myself. Writing in his voice is very easy and natural for me. In the end, I just like hanging out with him and seeing what sort of trouble he gets into.