MysteryPeople Q&A with Jon McGoran

Interview by MysteryPeople Contributor Scott Butki

With his new novel, Dust Up, Jon McGoran has written a book full of adrenaline, and plot twists, and  the controversial and contemporary topic of GMO foods. His choice of topic makes sense since McGoran has written about food and sustainability for 20 years and spent some of that time advocating for labeling genetically engineered foods.

For an idea of how such a book reads, think the kind of adrenaline rush delivered by Jeff Abbott or Lee Child, but with information reminding readers of the potential problems of GMO foods.

Dust Up was my first exposure to McGoran, but I liked it enough that I now plan to read McGoran’s two earlier books in this series, as well as any new ones to come. Each of McGoran’s books features Detective Dolye Carrick.

I interviewed Mr. McGoran via email:

“He starts to pull at those and some other strange threads to reveal a massive plot involving genetically altered heroin, biopharming, designer pathogens, and what I maintain to this day is the most outrageously sinister utilization of butterflies anywhere.”

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

Jon McGoran: A lot of the underlying ideas in the series as a whole are things I’ve been following for a long time, but the main ideas specific to Dust Up came to me from several places.

Character wise, I wanted to take a look at where Doyle Carrick, my protagonist, was after the events of Drift and Deadout: his increasing disillusionment with the police, his burnout, his growing awareness of the issues he’s been confronting. Where Doyle is in his life is an important aspect of the book that I started to think about as I was outlining Deadout, the previous book in the series. The political aspects of the plot originally came from an interview with John Ostapkovich, a reporter at Philly’s KYW-AM. We started talking about how the US aggressively pushes America’s biotech products around the world, especially among countries with more stringent regulations, applying all sorts of leverage through food aid and trade deals to get them to drop those regulations. There are some scientific ideas in Dust Up that emerged out of the research that I did for Drift and for Deadout. I’m really excited about the science at the heart of Dust Up. The idea at the heart of the book — which I don’t want to give away — came to me in a moment of cackling glee.

SB: Why did you decide to set part of the story in Haiti?

JM: I knew Dust Up was going to take place on an international scale, but I chose Haiti for a number of reasons. It has a history of rejecting genetically engineered products, sometimes in very dramatic fashion. It is a frequent aid recipient, often confronted by drought, and plagued with political instability, and it has a long history of unwanted foreign interventions.

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