Jeffery Deaver’s latest thriller, Solitude Creek, is the fourth Kathryn Dance novel. Dance originally appeared in one of Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme books, up against a villain causing mass panic. We are looking forward to hosting him this Saturday, June 6th, at 5PM. Michael Stuart got to ask him a few questions about Kathryn and how she evolves throughout the series.
Michael Stuart: Kathryn Dance is a great character. When she first appeared with Lincoln Rhyme were you already thinking of featuring her in her own adventures, or did the character come first, then the idea of a new series?
Jeffery Deaver: Thanks. It’s been my intent for a few years to introduce a new protagonist who is, in a way, the opposite of Rhyme. He’s a Sherlockian character—very distant, rational, scientific. He respects evidence and cold analysis of the crime scene. But there’s very human side to police work (and to evil) that I wanted to explore. So I created Kathryn. She’s a widow, a single mom with two young kids, and has no interest in forensics. The psychology of the criminals she pursues is what interests her. I put her into the Rhyme book, The Cold Moon, to see what would happen. And people loved her. She is, you could say, a spin-off.
MS: The bad guy Kathryn is chasing is a world-class villain. You have obviously researched the psychology and mechanics of how he commits these horrific deeds. But the way you describe the fear of the crowd in the moment and the anguish in the aftermath is very personal and very real. In your research did you talk to people who have actually been involved in similar events?
JD: The book was inspired by an incident a few years ago in which I myself was trapped in a crowd that panicked. The Halloween parade in Greenwich Village New York is very well attended—and winds its way through some narrow streets and sidewalks. I was trapped in a group that panicked when there was a back fire (possibly a gunshot, but I doubt it). We were swept off our feet and had no control over anything. It was hard to breathe and I actually worried about breaking a rib. Falling? That would have been a disaster. Afterward I thought: I have to write a book about this.
MS: Kathryn is working on several different cases in this book. Do you develop each separately and weave them together or work them all at once?
JD: I plan them all at once. All of my books featured intersecting plots. Since the stories take place over a short time period, I need to plan out everything ahead of time. I spend eight months outlining the books and making sure the pacing and structure are the best they can be.
MS:Everybody has a secret in this book. Cops, criminals, kids –they’re all hiding something. Did you chose “secrets” to be a theme before you started writing?
JD: Good point! I didn’t consciously plan that out. But you’re right. Of course, since all of my books (and the subplots within them) must have twists and surprises, secrets are a very helpful way to effect those twists.
MS: Most “great detectives” don’t have a family to worry about. There is a lovely scene with Kathryn and her family and friends enjoying an evening on The Deck. Do you have to remind yourself to keep the family involved even if they don’t have anything to do with the current case?
JD: We certainly read thrillers to enjoy the mystery of solving the crime or learning if the hero or the villain will prevail. But we readers (myself included) also like to spend time with characters we enjoy. They are friends. That’s part of my approach to writing. To make sure the people who populate my books are the sort that readers would like to sit down with, talk to, and have a meal, coffee or a glass of wine with.
Jeffery Deaver comes to BookPeople to speak and sign his latest novel, Solitude Creek, Saturday, June 6th, at 5 PM on BookPeople’s second floor. BookPeople’s events are free and open to the public. You must purchase a copy of the book in order to join the signing line. You can find copies of Solitude Creek on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.