MysteryPeople Q&A with Jeff Abbott

  • Interview and Review by Scott Butki

 


In The First Order, Jeff Abbott has written yet another great thriller about his protagonist hero, Sam Capra, and his continuing adventures and mishaps.

This is Abbott’s fifth novel in the Sam Capra series and I keep thinking one of these is going to be a dud – no offense, Jeff – but he keeps pulling it off. Each has enough excitement that it should come with a warning: Don’t read before going to bed… because there’s enough adrenaline to keep you awake.

“Usually when an idea with this many facets comes to me, I know it’s one good enough for a book.”

The series began with AdrenalineCapra’s first appearance. Abbott jumps right into action at the book’s start with a mysterious warning from Sam’s wife, telling him to leave his workplace. As soon as he gets outside, the building explodes, killing everyone within. Capra’s wife does a runner, leaving Sam behind for the CIA to blame as a murderer and traitor.

In Abbott’s latest novel, Sam works to determine if his brother, Danny, is as dead as Sam and his family have been led to believe… or if Danny may be still alive. Meanwhile, someone is being paid $20 million to kill the leader of Russia.

Will these two stories somehow collide? If you don’t say yes then you have not read these books, a fact you must rectify. I talked to Jeff about The First Order, which comes out January 5th, just in time for Jeff’s upcoming visit to the store.

Mr. Abbott will be speaking and signing his latest this Tuesday, January 5th, at 7 PM on BookPeople’s second floor. You can find copies on our shelves on the day of the event, or pre-order a signed copy via bookpeople.com


Interview with Jeff Abbott


Scott Butki: How did you come up with this story?

Jeff Abbott: I wanted this thriller about two brothers to have both personal and global stakes. So I thought: Sam Capra has to stop his brother from killing the Russian president during a state visit to America. That’s the spine of the idea. But then I have to execute the idea in a way that feels fresh and compelling to the reader. There have been lots of great books about assassination attempts, what can I bring that is new? In this case, it’s Sam Capra and his brother. Of course, readers of the Capra series know that Sam’s brother has been presumed dead for years. What did he do during that time, why did he choose to let Sam and his family think he was dead? Sam made all these choices in his life: to join the CIA, to try and honor his brother’s sacrifice, and those choices changed Sam’s life forever and that was all based on a terrible lie. So there’s a huge emotional component to this thriller. Sam wants to keep his brother from starting a war, and he wants the brother he loved back. Usually when an idea with this many facets comes to me, I know it’s one good enough for a book.

SB: As you get further into your series of Sam Capra stories is it becoming harder or easier to find new plot lines?

JA: I have more ideas than I have time to write them. The challenge is deciding which are the right ones to use.

SB: You have now written stand alone books and books in a series. What are the pros and cons of each?

JA: I think it goes back to characters. In a standalone you get to explore characters and situations that might not work as part of a series. In a series you get to revisit old friends and go deep into their lives.

SB: How do you do research for books like this? Are you researching, for example, Russia since there’s a plot-line about killing a Russian leaders?

JA: I research a whole variety of topics: being a relief worker overseas, the history of political assassination, antique Afghan weapons, super -yachts, just to name a few. I had to research the peculiarities of Russian politics, the role in the government that several ex-KGB agents who have become billionaires play in Russia, what the changing role of the president is there. But this is fiction, so I change it up to make it clear that this is a different world than the one we live in. For other aspects, I have readers who help me with this; for instance, for a scene with US soldiers searching a village in Afghanistan, a college friend of mine who did two tours of duty in Afghanistan read that chapter and gave me detailed comments. I tend to do more research than what I need, but even what I don’t put into the book seems to inform my writing.

SB: One of my favorite things about reading your books is the impressive advanced technology. Is the technology in your book new things most don’t know about yet or are some fictional or a mix?

JA: I don’t really make much stuff up. For instance, I got a lot of help from a man whose company sets up satellite internet access and networks for super- yachts, since part of the book takes place on one owned by a Russian billionaire. He shared all sorts of details about satellite internet technology specific to maritime use that provided me with a plot complication, as well as what daily life is like aboard such a luxury craft. Experts love to talk about what they know, it’s just finding the one who is happy to help you.

SB: Seems like several of your books in this series came out just in time to be summer reads but this ones coming out in January. Was that intentional to change things up?

JA: The timing of a release of a book by a publisher is always intentional, these are scheduled long in advance. My 2017 book is already scheduled for a specific release date and I’m still writing it.

 “I research a whole variety of topics: being a relief worker overseas, the history of political assassination, antique Afghan weapons, super -yachts, just to name a few. I had to research the peculiarities of Russian politics, the role in the government that several ex-KGB agents who have become billionaires play in Russia, what the changing role of the president is there. But this is fiction, so I change it up to make it clear that this is a different world than the one we live in…”

SB: What’s next for Sam?

JA: He gets a break for one book. I’ve put him and Mila Court through a physical and emotional wringer for five books and so much has changed for them by the end of The First Order, I wanted to give them a chance to breathe for once. I know what the sixth Sam novel will bring but I’m writing a standalone before that.

SB: What’s next for you? Any plans for stand alone books?

JA: The next book is a standalone psychological suspense novel, set in Austin. It will be out January 2017.

SB: What’s the status of your books (Adrenaline, Panic and Collision) becoming movies?

JA: I have the film and TV rights back to the Sam Capra books and I have a plan for bringing them to the screen. Panic and Collision are still in development. A short story I wrote, “Human Intelligence”, has been optioned for a TV series and is also in development.

Mr. Abbott will be speaking and signing his latest this Tuesday, January 5th, at 7 PM on BookPeople’s second floor. You can find copies on our shelves on the day of the event, or pre-order a signed copy via bookpeople.com

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