Friday, July 6, 2012

JON LAND: STRONG VENGEANCE


DEBORAH CROMBIE: A big welcome here at Jungle Red to Jon Land! For our THRILLER FORTNIGHT, we've had two authors with male protagonists this week. Now Jon is going to give us a different twist.  I love the premise of this book, and I love that Jon's heroine, Caitlin Strong, is a Texas Ranger. Here's a little set-up for Jon's new Caitlin Strong novel, STRONG VENGEANCE:

 1818:  In the Gulf waters off the Texas coast, the pirate Jean Lafitte and his partner Jim Bowie launch an attack on the Mother Mary, a slave ship carrying an invaluable treasure.

The Present:  Fifth-generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong finds herself investigating the murder of an oil rig crew that had found the long-lost wreckage of the Mother Mary.  But the crew also uncovered something else beneath the surface of the sea—something connected to a devastating attack about to be launched on the United States by a mad American-born cleric who has recruited an army of homegrown terrorists.

With the stakes higher and evil darker than any she has encountered before, Caitlin races to find the connection between the treasure pilfered centuries before and the deadly secret hidden on the bottom of the ocean today.  This as she struggles to raise the teenage sons of her imprisoned lover Cort Wesley Masters who secures his release just in time to join the fight by her side.

But shadows and subterfuge abound, starting with Teofilo Braga, a waste management baron hiding secrets born of his own past that are somehow linked to the threats America is facing.  Caitlin’s desperate path plunges her deep into that past and an unsolved mass murder committed near the island refuge of Lafitte himself.

Caitlin’s only chance to defeat the terrorists lies in first solving that 30-year-old mystery.  In the end, only the strongest of vengeance can win the day, Caitlin and Cort Wesley standing with guns ready to save the country from the greatest threat it has ever faced.

Now, Jon tells us why he chose a female protagonist for his thrillers.


CAITLIN STRONG: ACTION HERO!

          Female action hero.  For many thriller fans, that’s an oxymoron.  And you can’t really blame them.  A woman capable of mixing it up with the likes of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher?  Come on, no way, right?

            Wrong.  Caitlin Strong, who returns this month in Strong Vengeance, is a Texas Ranger capable of mixing it up with just about everyone.  Her past three adventures have pitted her against a villainous Haliburton-like company responsible for torturing her husband (Strong Enough to Die), a renegade Mexican colonel about to launch a guerilla war against the U.S. (Strong Justice), and a radical right-wing militia intent on starting a second civil war (Strong at the Break).  Now in Strong Vengeance she’s up against homegrown Islamic terrorists planning to wipe out the United States as we know it.   Those plotlines may seem more fit for Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone, James Rollins’ Sigma Force, Brad Thor’s Scott Harvath, or Vince Flynn’s wonderful Mitch Rapp.  Only difference is they’re men . . . and not Texas Rangers either.

            See, it comes down to credibility.  Building a believable female action hero starts with a foundation the audience will buy into and the Texas Rangers form the perfect basis for that.  These lawmen (and now lawwomen!) have been legends for nearly two centuries now, coming to exemplify the lone hero so vital to the development of American fiction in general.  The Rangers’ exploits have reached a mythic, virtually iconic level and they remain to this day symbols of standing up for what’s right no matter the odds.  Which describes Caitlin dead solid perfect.

            Of course, some will say that casting female Caitlin in the all-male Texas Rangers strains credibility in its own right.  So I made her not just a Ranger, but a fifth generation Ranger with her forbears all being veritable legends in this exclusive community.  That helps lead to her being accepted but, ultimately, she has no problem proving herself against bad guys every bit the equal of those run down by Caitlin’s father Jim and her grandfather Earl Strong.  That’s why I decided to frame all the Strong books by featuring them in subplots set in the past that inevitably turn out to be connected to what and who Caitlin’s pursuing in the present.  In Strong Vengeance, for example, Caitlin has to solve the thirty-year-old mass murder of five college students, a case her legendary father and grandfather never solved, in order to stop those homegrown terrorists from wreaking havoc on the nation.  And there must be something about her as a female action hero that’s resonating, because here’s some breaking news:  Sony has just optioned the first book in the series (Strong Enough to Die) in order to build a television series around Caitlin!  Hey, we’ve still got a long way to go but at least she—and I—have a shot (no pun intended!).

            Stephen King once said “it’s not the tale, it’s the telling.”  Well, for me it’s not the gender, it’s the person.  And Caitlin Strong can stand toe-to-toe with any of her contemporaries, even though that doesn’t necessarily mean eye-to-eye.
         
So what do you think, readers?  Can a male author effectively write a female hero?  Do you think terrorism is overdone as a theme or does the "homegrown" angle here make it different enough to be of interest?  And I'd like to know what you think makes a great thriller and would love to hear some of your favorites and why.

Jon Land is the bestselling author of thirty thrillers, most recently the Caitlin Strong series that includes Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, and Strong at the Break.  The next entry, Strong Vengeance, will be available just in time for ThrillerFest.  He’s also bringing back his longtime action hero Blaine McCracken in Pandora’s Temple for Open Road Media in November and this past year published his first ever nonfiction book, Betrayal. Betrayal is currently being developed as a television series by Fox for Denis Leery and Jon just inked a deal with Sony to bring Caitlin Strong to the small screen as well.  He lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be found on the Web at jonlandbooks.com. 

DEBS: Jon will be stopping in to respond to your questions and comments, AND he's very kindly offered to give three copies of STRONG VENGEANCE to lucky readers who comment, so get your names in the hat!


69 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

I love Caitlin Strong [no credibility issue for a woman Texas Ranger here . . . remember Nia Peeples' wonderful portrayal of Ranger Sydney Cooke on "Walker: Texas Ranger" beginning back in 1999?] . . . . I really enjoy the subplots that delve into past cases; they make a unique counterpoint to what’s going on in Caitlin’s present. I’m really looking forward to "Strong Vengeance."

Lucy Burdette said...

I'm with Joan--love the idea of weaving the history and her father and grandfather's cases into the present. I'm curious about what her life is like at home--she's got her hands full with the outside world!

And huge congrats on the option!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Yes, just reading the post--I could see it so cinematically! And that's very exciting, Jon!

How did you put yourself in the head of a woman? Anything surprise you? :-)

Marianne in Maine said...

Thank you for introducing me to these great authors. These new-to-me thrillers will hold me over until the new JR books come out. Great blog!

Jon Land said...

Joan: I think we've met on this blog before during one of my other visits and really appreciate your comments and support. I think you'll find STRONG VENGEANCE to be something special. I've been talking a lot about what I believe is the most chilling scene I think I've ever written when, in STRONG VENGEANCE, when an especially heinous villain confronts Caitlin's surrogate son Dylan specifically to provoke her. The scene contains no physical violence whatsoever, but writing it scared the hell out of me. You'll see what I mean just a few weeks down the road now!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Jon, are you an outliner? (I say this as a former outliner who has completely changed direction...)

Jon Land said...

Lucy: Your words and thoughts mean so much to me. The historically relevant flashback sub-plots in these books have taken on a life all of their own. The theme presents a challenge with each book, but also an opportunity to do something truly special in the genre, something really ambitious to further set the Caitlin Strong books apart from other thrillers. Faulkner once said, "The past isn't over; it's not even past" and I think this series proves that. This also allows me to weave in more of the history and lore of the Texas Rangers into the book, something so crucial to the development of the series. As to Caitlin's home life, well, we'll see more and more of it with each successive book as she grows closer and closer to Cort Wesley and his sons. But she, and he, both know that she can't hang her guns up for good because she would no longer be who she is. So for Caitlin the personal and the professional will always be a push-pull with no clear resolution and forever in search of that elusive middle ground.

Jon Land said...

Lucy: Thanks also for the congrats on the option. It's still a long shot but at least we've got a chance.

Jon Land said...

Hank: Great question! I outline absolutely nothing. The one one thing I do before I start is craft a first pass at the flap copy (like a tease) for the sales force to use since they start planning how to sell these books so far out. Other than that, I fly by the seat of my pants and absolutely love and thrive on the spontaneity of the process. There's something wonderfully exciting, as well as intimidating, about not really knowing from day to day exactly what I'm going to write. It forces me to be on all the time but to also use the momentum of that to carry me forward. That's how I'm able to write 75-100 pages a week and finish a first draft in less than two months.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

WHAT??? I thought I saw a comment from you saying you could finish a first draft in less than two months. But I must have misread.

Jon Land said...

Marianne: Jim's a great friend of mine. In addition to being a wonderful writer and storyteller, he's truly one of the nicest people I know. We're also huge fans of each other, so I think it's safe to say if you enjoy his books, you'll enjoy mine too.

Rhonda Lane said...

Congrats on the series! Too bad Katee Sackoff is already working on LONGMIRE. No one questions her command presence in a paramilitary unit (Starbuck on Battlestar Gallactica)

The Rangers only opened up their ranks to women less than twenty years ago. Back then, I was researching the Rangers for a book I eventually back-burnered after 9/11. I even made a couple of trips to Waco to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame. Now I'm missing that book and those characters.

In the meantime, while I finish up my other stuff, I believe I need to mosey over to the B&N site and "Nook up" your Caitlin series. :)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Rhonda--Nook up? Did you make that up?

Darlene Ryan said...

Okay, I'm intrigued enough that I want to read Strong Vengeance. I'm curious about what you found to be the hardest part of getting into a female character's head and what was the easiest?

Rhonda Lane said...

Hank - Yup. Just popped into my head. Nook as a verb. The quippy god likes me. The plot-yourself-out-of-corners god? Eh, not so much. :)

Jon Land said...

Hank: How did I put myself in the head of a woman? Wow, that's both the simplest and hardest question to answer. First thought: it wasn't hard, not at all. Because I don't write my characters--they write themselves. Once I started writing Caitlin, I knew just enough about her to let her go off on her own and dictate the rest to me. The key for me is to get myself out of the way and let the characters dictate what's going to happen, where the plot is going to go. That's also how I'm able to write as quickly as I do.

Lisa said...

Congrats on the option. This series sounds great! I'm always on the prowl for new series with female heroes. I'll definitely be heading over to Amazon after this post. As for your questions to readers ...

Joe Konrath writes one of my favorite thriller/mystery series, Jack Daniels, which features a female hero. Her character is tough, but believable. I think that is the key. I don't feel that the terrorism plot is overdone because it is still a very relevant and real threat to our country. Extra points for the homegrown variety. My favorite thrillers are gritty, have flawed heroes that make you care, villains you truly despise, and they are fast-paced with witty dialogue.

Best wishes for your continued sucess!

Hallie Ephron said...

It's probably no surprise that most of us here at Jungle Red don't even blink at the term "female action figure." But it's not really a muscle man in a dress, is it? Did you find you had to change your mindset at all to write her?

Jon Land said...

Rhonda: You will be a great "read," for me, meaning you're someone who'll be able to tell me how well I succeeded, or failed, in capturing how modern day Rangers truly think and act. I have had some great feedback from Texans, but nothing from someone like yourself who knows this world so well and who shares my fascination with the Rangers and their history. I honestly can't wait to hear what you think of the books and how I've written Caitlin, her captain, and the Texas Rangers in general. Look, it's fiction so obviously I have to take some liberties. But I've really tried to get both the facts, history, mythos, sensibility and procedures the Rangers follow as right as I can. Can't wait to hear from you on how well I did!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Rhonda, my 9 year old grandson just helped me when I hit a plot pothole...seriously! Any question you'd like to ask Eli? Before he starts charging for advice?

Linda said...

OMG... more for my TBR list.

I adore kick-ass women! There can never be too many strong women in books (or elsewhere)!

Thank you for introducing me to Caitlin Strong.

Jon Land said...

Darlene: Your question is similar to Hank's, but let me address it in a different way. The key for me with me Caitlin was introducing her into situation where she is confronted by the choices she didn't make. The thing I love about STRONG VENGEANCE maybe the most are the early scenes when she's effectively raising Cort Wesley's teenage sons while he's in jail--kind of like the Robert Frost poem about coming to the fork in the road. Caitlin has chosen one path but her love for Cort Wesley and his sons makes her wonder what she's been missing. Both choices come with an awesome degree of responsibility and what Caitlin realizes is that she has to have it both ways to enjoy either. A lot of readers tell me their favorite relationship in the series is Caitlin and Dylan, Cort Wesley's oldest son, and I take great, great pride in that. So she's basically a character torn between her lifestyle as a modern day gunfighter and her maternal instincts--that's a hell of a conflict and it really helps drive the series. Does that answer your question?

Jon Land said...

Lisa: You should be Joe in person--he's a great guy, a riot, and a hoot. Hey, I love this comment of yours: "My favorite thrillers are gritty, have flawed heroes that make you care, villains you truly despise, and they are fast-paced with witty dialogue." I believe you are describing the Caitlin Strong books to an absolute T! And as for villains, wait until that scene where you meet Jalbert Thoms for the first time in Strong Vengeance! And, by the way, there's a real life guy in Texas who's trying to do the exact same thing that the villain Teofilo Braga does in STRONG VENGEANCE!

Jon Land said...

Hallie: Yet another great question and knowing your work I'm not surprised! No, it's not a muscle man in a dress at all! lol The key in creating a female action hero started with making sure it's credible--that's why making Caitlin a Texas Ranger was so important. It helps make you believe all the stuff she's doing is possible because she's a Texas Ranger and grew up with that tradition, since she's Fifth Generation and was pretty much born to do this. She's a great shot but doesn't beat up guys twice her size. Her toughness is defined by her attitude more than her fists. I like to say she's a female version of Lee Child's wondrous Jack Reacher but she doesn't take out five guys with her fists like he does. She might confront the same five guys, but the scene will need a different resolution.

Jon Land said...

Linda: I'm going to predict that Caitlin will be your favorite "kick-ass" woman of any. There's simply no one else like her in thriller fiction I'm aware of--not when you consider the the power of what the bad guys she confronts possess and the scope of the terrible things they're plotting to do. She's like a female John Wayne in the brilliant film THE SEARCHERS. These books are essentially modern day westerns in form and structure, just as Caitlin is a modern day gunfighter.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Yeah, I did get a big "western" vibe from your description...I know in the romance genre, "cowboys" are very popular. So I'm wondering how you envision your audience--male or female?

Jon Land said...

Hank: Yup, two months. But lots and lots of rewriting follows. I keep at it until I get it right, but before you can get it right you've got to get it down.

Linda Rodriguez said...

How have I missed these books? I love strong, tough women protagonists who are capable of taking on villains themselves without being rescued. Your STRONG books sound like just my cup of tea, Jon!

Congrats on the option for TV. I hope it comes through. We need more kick-ass heroines there.

75-100 pages of first draft per week! Maybe you should come back to do another post on just exactly how you manage that feat.

Nancy said...

This book and this series sounds intriguing. I've put Strong Vengeance on my Amazon wish list.

Jon Land said...

Hank: I have a predominantly male readership but because three-quarters of all books are bought by women, I'm hoping Caitlin continues to help me build my female audience. That's one of my favorite things about returning to Jungle Red, hearing from women about what they're looking for and how they're responding to the thriller in general.

Jon Land said...

Linda: I'll revisit my writing pace a bit later today. A lot of people have missed these books, unfortunately, but it's never too late to start. I do recommend reading them in order because I think you'll enjoy them more. That's the great thing about a series like this: read one and you're hooked!

Jon Land said...

Nancy: You won't be disappointed--I promise! And response to STRONG VENGEANCE so far is off the charts! Stay in touch and let me know what you think!

Jan Brogan said...

I am more interested in how you get the cadence of speech. I think that was one of the things that has made me read and reread my favorite book. - incidentally about former Texas rangers. What was your process before the first book in getting the dialoge right?

Diane Hale said...

Thanks to Debs and Jungle Red for pointing me to a new series to enjoy. Jon, I don't have a problem with a man writing from a woman's viewpoint--I believe it's all in the mindset and talent. I'm a huge fan of several women writers who've accomplished the feat of writing a believable man's viewpoint, so why not the opposite? Looking forward to starting the Strong series!

Allison Brennan said...

I've been a fan of Jon's Caitlin Strong since the ARC of STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE, an amazing book! And Jon, I love that you don't plot, either. I just wish I was as disciplined as you with writing 100 pages a week. I procrastinate too much :/

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Yeha...I just realized I'm writing from Jake Brogan's POV in THE OTHER WOMAN--and didn't bat an eye at that.

(Jake would never say "didn't bat an eye.")

Hey. Allison! Welcome! When do you want to come visit JR? xoxoo

Carol Robinson said...

It's a lucky day when I find a series soon enough to start reading at the beginning so today is a lucky day. Thank you, Jon, and thank you, Jungle Red.

storytellermary said...

Hurrah for strong women! My favorite stories have women actively solving problems, not waiting to be rescued . . .

Jon Land said...

Jan: Well, I'd like to say I did exhaustive research and spent tons of time down in Texas. I did do lots of research but didn't spend all that much down in Texas. For me, it became a matter of reconstructing the way Caitlin might speak. Texans do not speak "southern" and most of them have hardly any accent at all. It's more a matter of word choice, tone, cadence and getting things, like the southwest tradition of addressing people by their two given names (Cort Wesley Masters is always referred to as Cort Wesley). Caitlin does have a slight accent because her family is native to Texas so there's a minor twang and drawl, but nothing like the harsher southern accents from Alabama or Georgia. This is a real trick for all writers, not just mystery-thriller, because how much do you hate it when every character in abook sounds exactly the same? Great question, by the way, and I hope when you dig into the Strong books you're pleased with how I've done. Make sure you let me know!

Jon Land said...

Diane: You make such a great point about women writing from a male point of view. I just thought of the classic spy author Helen McGinnis and how many of her stories had male leads. I wonder if women writing men tend to make them more sensitive, just as a man writing a woman might write her more strong (no pun intended!). To jump to the future for a moment, one thing that really excites me about the next Caitlin book for 2013, STRONG RAIN FALLING, is that the book features a female villain as well and, oh boy, is she mean!

Jon Land said...

Allison: That's because you have a life and I don't! (lol) But, seriously, it's great to see a good friend checking in and what a perfect time to mention LOVE IS MURDER, a terrific anthology you edited that I'm lucky enough to be a part of. You were actually one of the toughest editors I've ever had, but I still remember how much your early read of STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE, the first Caitlin, meant to me. To be validated not only by an outstanding writer was wonderful in itself, but I believe you were also the first woman outside of my own editor who read Caitlin and I'll be forever grateful for you taking the time. When I grow up, I want to be as famous as you! See you next week at T-Fest, right?

Jon Land said...

Thank YOU, Carol--it's a lucky day for me too to find some no many new readers and be able to introduce them to the world of Caitlin. As I said above, I do recommend reading them in order to enhance your enjoyment of the series. Although each story is self-contained and can be read as a stand-alone, the characters do evolve, grow and change as their lives progress. It really bothers me when authors don't age their characters. I mean, Spenser was somewhere around 80 when Robert Parker died suddenly. How do all of you feel about that?

Jon Land said...

Oh boy, Mary, have you found the perfect series to suit your tastes! STRONG VENGEANCE and all the Caitlin books are all about her "actively solving problems, not waiting to be rescued." Indeed, more often than not it's her doing the rescuing! But, spoiler alert!, there is one character in the series outside of her bad boy boy friend Cort Wesley Masters who serves as Caitlin's protector. He wasn't even supposed to survive STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE, but he decided otherwise on his own and left me with no choice but to keep him alive. I enjoy nothing more than when a character literally imposes his will on me. And, as you'll see with this character, that's a mighty big will!!!!!!

Jon Land said...

Hank: See, it's not so hard is it? Hey, as thriller writers we write all sorts of people. I write serial killers I was never a serial killer. I did a whole series on an Palestinian-American detective and his Israeli partner and I'm not either one of those. Nor am I active Special Forces or a secret agent, but I've written more than my share of them too. The trick is being able to get inside the character's mind. Do that and you can write anyone. But, as was the case for me in STRONG VENGEANCE with a truly morally repugnant character like Jalbert Thoms, I wanted to get out of his head as quickly as possible. Wonder how Thomas Harris was feeling when he created Hannibal Lecter!!!!!

Allison Brennan said...

(((blushing)))

I have five kids, that's what keeps me busy. :/ I'll definitely be at Tfest!

Deb Romano said...

Oh, good grief! It is becoming more and more apparent to me that I need to plan a "stay-cation" so I can make a dent in my ever-growing TBR list! And, Jon, your books have just been added to it!

I do enjoy reading about strong women characters who do not need to be rescued, except perhaps in situations where their male counterparts would also need to be rescued. I've read several male authors who have written from a woman's perspective. Some do a great job and I would not know that the author was male, whereas I believe that some others write what they WISH women would think and do!

To answer your last question:I like to see characters aging, mellowing witout lowering their standards,perhaps learning better ways of approaching certain kind of situations.

I think terrorism will continue to be a "hot topic" for as long as our country is in danger from terrorists. Even before it became a serious matter in our country,some authors did a fantastic job of keeping me on tenterhooks while reading their thrillers that involved terrorist plots. While I was typing this, I remembered my late father and I recommending such books to each other,and he died back in the late seventies.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Oh,wonderful. See you at Thrillerfest.

And Deb Romano, I'm kind of struggling with a scene along those lines--Jane does something, trying to be brave and rescue someone. And it's potentially something that COULD work. She really shouldn't be doing it--but it would be lame of her not to consider it.

Jake comes and yanks her away--mostly yanking her from her thoughts, not her actions.

She's a person who always refuses help--she sees herself as the helper, not the helpee. So it's part of her growth that she gets taken out of the situation.

I just can't decide if she should make the decision on her own.

Of course, Jake may be putting himself in peril to save HER.

Eesh.

Lucy Burdette said...

it's beginning to become clear how you can write that many pages in a week, Jon, just from all your wonderful comments! But please do tell us about your writing process--we're all struggling to be more productive!

thanks for being such an outstanding guest:)

Jon Land said...

Allison: If I had five kids, I would definitely not be writing 100 pages per week!!!! Should be a great time next week!

Jon Land said...

Deb: I had the sense when I started the book that terrorism was over-done in general and that using Islamic radicals was really overdone. They've become the Nazis and Cold War Russians of the genre. So when I started STRONG VENGEANCE it was with the notion to preserve the villainy while introducing some level of humanity. It's a fine line to walk but it's also done in contrast to the waste management baron Teofilo Braga who is a true prisoner of his violent nature and tendency to overreact to situations. Villains don't wake up every morning intending to be bad. They are able to justify their acts within the limits of their own morality--delusional to be sure, but that's what makes them so damn dangerous. And great thrillers are made by great villains planning horrible plots.

Jon Land said...

Hank: Sounds like Jane is figuring things out just fine on our own. Sometimes our characters become like our kids--we don't want to let them go, but we know they'll likely be better off on their own. Maintain too much control over them and they get stale and before we know it we're writing the same back over and over again with the titles being basically interchangeable. That would let so many of the fans and readers visiting this blog today down and the number one obligation a writer has to his/her readers is to never let them down, never disappoint them. Always leave them finishing one book unable to wait for the next.

Jon Land said...

Lucy: Thanks for the good word and I'll give away one of my secrets. I never leave off a writing session at the end of a chapter or scene. Instead, I always type at least the first few paragraphs of where I'm going next, sometimes leaving off literally in the middle of a sentence. That way, when I start up again it's with a running start as opposed to a dead stop. The other thing I've started to do with the Caitlin books that really took off with STRONG VENGEANCE is get four or five chapter headings ahead, each with a few lines to remind me of where I was going before I stopped. For someone who doesn't outline like me, that provides great security because it always leaves me knowing, at least in a rough sense, what the next 50 pages or so are going to look like. Once you read me, you'll see that I do two other things that play off this. First, my chapters are very short, sometimes little more than 1-2 pages. And second I organize my Caitlin books into ten sections, each preceded by a section header with a quote or tale from the Texas Rangers. This gives me a nice sense of closure since essentially I'm left with the feeling of completion every time I move onto a new section instead of waiting for that same feeling until I finish the book. And it's a true pleasure to be a guest on Jungle Red! What a great blog!

Jon Land said...

Hey, everybody, just had a thought. As the afternoon draws on, let me know who you think should play Caitlin in the television series (Knock wood!!!). I'll give you the inside scoop of who's at the top of Sony's list around 8:00 or so tonight, so stay tuned or stop in again around then. I'll be responding into the night so feel free to keep commenting even after I disappear for a few hours to hit the gym to make sure I stay as strong as Caitlin--again, no pun intended!

Austin S. Camacho said...

Jon is a total inspiration! First to be able to write that much and have it be such tight prose. And then to breathe so much life into his characters. So: 2 questions:

@Jon: do you do a lot of rewrites, or does writing at that pace make for better stuff the first time through?

@Everyone: How many of you will I be able to meet at Thrillerfest???

Diane Hale said...

Since I haven't read your series (I plan to correct that omission), I don't know what physical attributes Caitlin has. I do love Summer Glau as an action star; she was great in Firefly, as well as the Fox network's take on the Terminator spin-off.

Chuck B said...

Jon,

I had to emerge out of "deep lurk" status to tell you that this is most timely posting by you ... I've had "Strong Enough to Die" on my TBR stack for a few years, and just started it last night!

But I was a big fan of yours years ago, during the Blaine McCracken/"Greek letter" novels, so I'm glad to see you bringing him back, too.

Like many of the other commenters, I'm astounded by your pace and discipline (between my family and more-than-full-time job, I'm lucky to write 5-10 pages a week), and by your ability to write that much without outlining (I don't outline, per se, but I need some idea of where I'm headed).

In any event, congratulations and continued good luck with both the novels and the TV option.

Chuck B

Rhonda Lane said...

Hank - I do need an Eli. I just clambered out of the last plot corner/dead end after about ten days of thrashing around, so I've got some smooth sailing ahead for a bit. By the time I need Eli's help again, though, he'll have a thriving book doctor business he conducts at recess. :) =:-D

Jon - Does the Texas Ranger Museum and Hall of Fame know about/carry your books? Back in the day, they had a pretty healthy book section.

Deb Romano said...

Gee, Jon, I haven't read your book yet, but I already think that Braga will be giving me nightmares! Villains justifying their acts; yeah, that kind of person can be found in any walk of life -which makes things even scarier. (Something tells me that I will be at the bookstore this weekend -after this introduction to Caitlin I want to get to know her and her world better.)

Hank,
The way you are dropping these little "teasers" here and there about Jane and Jake is almost cruel, because it's not like we readers will get to find out tomorrow or next week what actually happens! (Of course, I DO understand that you yourself don't know for certain at this point either. That ALMOST makes me feel better:-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks - after reading your blog I ordered his first book and look forward to his work!!! Thelma Straw in Hottest Manhottttan!!!!

Anonymous said...

After reading these comments I wish to state my own strong feelings about writing from the POV of another person! I also am not a serial killer - but some of my strongest writing is from the POV. I am a very feminine person, but most of my protags are men - and so on... We are human beings, we are children, spouses, lovers, parents, role models, etc. We have all the capabilities of a whole himan being. I find it incredible that writers assume they cannot get into the heads of other kinds of people - if this scares you, try it.You'll like it! And probably be excellent at it!! Thelma Straw, MWA-NY

Jon Land said...

Austin: How nice to hear from another friend on this terrific forum! In answer to your first question, it means more rewriting. No matter how much I try to get it right on my own, I need the input of my brilliant editor to make it better and as close to perfect as possible. She's very tough on me on every page and in every single scene. Interestingly, most often the best stuff that ends up in my books is the stuff that gets incorporated after I finish the first draft. It's all part of the process and every writer's is different. See you next week, my friend!

Jon Land said...

Diane: How interesting you should mention Summer Glau. She was the reason to watch the TERMINATOR television series (encouraging first season, abysmal second season) and she is on everyone's short list to play Caitlin. Her young age means the television series would have a different take and feel than the book. But different mediums are apples and oranges. That said, the exec at Sony behind Caitlin also got JUSTIFIED on the air which has remained very true to Elmore Leonard. I can hope for the same, perchance to dream!!!!!!

Jon Land said...

Chuck B: More good news for you. Blaine is coming back! His return to the page has been scheduled for November in PANDORA'S TEMPLE for my e-book company Open Road Media who will also be doing a print version in trade paperback. Fans of that series will love this one, since it's essentially a throwback to the first four entries in the series. The book poses the question What if Pandora's Box (actually a jar!) was real? Johnny's back too and Sal Belamo along with a pair of really solid villains. In the meantime, you're going to love Caitlin! I promise. Let me know. You and everyone else can reach me at jonlandauthor@aol.com. E-mail me and I'll send you a first pass of the PANDORA cover for your thoughts.

Jon Land said...

Rhonda: That's a great question! They do carry books but don't currently have an account with McMillan and setting one up has proven problematic for some reason. But we've got some new people on it and we'll be doing a Texas-based promo campaign aimed at the six Ranger companies, the Museum and a few other outlets. That's for the thought!

Jon Land said...

Thanks, Deb! I'm firm believer that, dating all the way back to Sherlock Holmes and updated by Ian Fleming in his Bond series, great thrillers are made by great villains. Where would Holmes be without Moriarty or Bond without the likes of Goldfinger, Dr. No. or the deadly Red Grant as played by Robert Shaw so well in From Russia, With Love. There has still never been a better fight scene filmed than the train car battle between Grant and Bond. I continue to be amazed every time I watch it. But don't get me started on the greatest fight scenes ever! I could go on until tomorrow!

Jon Land said...

Thelma: I love your comments on getting into the heads of characters. It's definitely a prime part of the Writer's Handbook. But getting into their heads doesn't mean you need to be happy there. When you read that scene between the heinous Jalbert Thoms when he first lays eyes on the rock star-like seventeen-year-old Dylan in STRONG VENGEANCE goes to that point. I love writing villains but I don't like living with them the way I enjoy living with Caitlin and Cort Wesley. In addition to covering the greatest fight scenes ever written, we should do another blog on the most chilling scenes ever written!

Diane Hale said...

Jon, interesting that Summer Glau is on the shortlist. It's not unusual to have TV (or movies) bring in actors that don't necessarily match what the writer--or reader--think the character looks like. One example is when the Syfy channel did a short-lived series based on Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. Their Murphy was brunette, rather than blonde, and they gave Bob the skull a body. Still was very enjoyable. I do hope the TV series comes to fruition! I spent much time being disappointed about nothing being done with my dad's books (Tom Godwin); finally Syfy did do a version of his The Cold Equations. And that version was "very" loosely based on the story. Still, may the gods smile on you with a successful series.

Michelle said...

Yeah, I think a man can write a convincing female character. We're all human, after all. I'm sure a lot of popular authors probably do. My favorite is Tim Myers, who also writes under other pseudonyms (including female ones). He writes cozy mysteries.

For thrillers I mostly like them in movies (action or suspense thrillers).

Robin Burcell said...

Coming to this blog a day late, but wanted to comment that I absolutely love books (thrillers) that combine a bit of history into the present day mystery. And I certainly have a soft spot for the female law enforcement officer! Looks like I have a new series to start!