The first novel in the Cork O’Connor series, Iron Lake, was originally published in 1998. At the time, did you envision an entire series revolved around Cork? What was your intent at the beginning? Has the series evolved into something other than what you had initially perceived, or has Cork been a fairly predictable guide for you and your storytelling?
Like so many of the authors I know in this genre, I began writing the first novel in the series without any idea that it would lead to more. I just wanted to write a book that pleased me and that was good enough to be published. When I was maybe halfway through that first manuscript, I realized I was creating relationships so complicated that it would take more than a single book to bring all the characters to the places in their lives I wanted them to be. At that point, I think I understood that Cork was going to be coming back again and again. How many times, God alone knew. I certainly didn’t envision the number that have been published already, and with still more to come.
As for Cork, he’s been the anchor all along. He’s been beaten and battered and suffered loss, but he inevitably rebounds. I named him Cork because, from the very beginning, I saw him as the kind of guy who was so resilient that no matter how far life pushed him down, he would always bob back to the surface.
Your novels frequently incorporate timely, controversial topics (nuclear waste storage in Vermilion Drift, racial gang violence in Red Knife, teen runaways in Copper River). In Northwest Angle, a fanatical religious community plays a large role in the plot. What inspired you to explore such a group, particularly its dark side, and what kind of reaction have you received from readers?
I’ve been fascinated by the fringe groups that exist in this country. When I understood that Cork was going to have to square off against an organization that was brutal in its thinking and actions and felt wholly justified in that brutality, I didn’t have to look far for examples. In March of 2010, federal law officers and state police in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana arrested a number of the members of the Hutaree organization in connection with a plot to murder police officers in an effort to instigate a national anti-government uprising. Those arrested were deep into preparing for End Times and believed themselves to be Christian warriors in the forefront of the battle against the anti-Christ. And this was only one example of many extremists who live among us and who think in a way that’s difficult to comprehend.
I didn’t set out to discuss religion or spirituality, but was simply looking for a reasonable and believable way to create conflict and suspense in the story. Once you wade into religion, however, you find yourself in some pretty tricky currents. I’ve been surprised by the number of readers and reviewers who’ve commented on this aspect of the story, because for me, there are so many other themes at work, particularly the question of emotional healing. I think part of the religious discussion comes from a comparison of the O’Connor’s spirituality, which is informed by both white Catholicism and Ojibwe beliefs and is a pretty humanistic approach, with the unthinking religious dogma they end up battling.
Mostly, I just liked the idea of two forces, good and evil, at odds. The classic confrontation that’s the bread and butter of the crime genre.
Your protagonist, Cork O’Connor, is half Irish-American, half Native American. His dual heritage has defined his character in many ways and has served as the root of many of his inner conflicts, especially in regard to violence. In Red Knife, after a deadly shooting takes place at his daughter’s high school, Cork decides that he is never again going to carry a gun, yet his profession keeps him in the midst of violence. Obviously, this must have an effect on you as a suspense writer! How are you grappling with the topic of violence in your writing?
I’m always intrigued by the moral questions that Cork grapples with, and one of those is why he often ends up in a situation where one of the choices he has to make is whether to respond with violence. In the book on which I’m currently at work, Cork is told by his wise Ojibwe mentor, Henry Meloux, that he is ogichida. This is an Ojibwe word that often is used to mean “warrior.” Meloux’s interpretation is different. For Meloux, ogichida means one who stands between bad things and his people. That’s certainly Cork. And because he’s sworn off the use of firearms, the question of how he will stand between those bad things and the people he cares about becomes another, often very powerful, element of suspense.
The beauty of the northern Minnesota landscape plays almost as big a role as murder in your novels. Tell us about how the setting has inspired your writing.
I’m not native to Minnesota. As a kid, I believed that my family must have had gypsy blood in them because we moved a lot—six different states before I graduated from high school. As a result, I never really had a place that I thought of as home. I came with my wife to Minnesota in 1980, and, honest to God, the moment I set foot here it felt to me as if I’d finally found home. I fell in love with this state. And I knew that when I finally got serious about writing a novel, it would be set in this adopted homeland of mine. My love of Minnesota informs all my writing. I sometimes wonder if, because I didn’t grow up here, the beauty of the North Country is something I don’t take for granted, and so I can write about it through eyes that are always full of marvel.
There are, however, other very good reasons for using Minnesota as a setting. As a writer of fiction, I understand perfectly well that conflict is what drives great stories. When I look at northern Minnesota, conflict is much of what I see. Conflict in the rugged landscape. Conflict in the extremes of weather. Conflict in the groups that inhabit the area, particularly the Ojibwe and the whites. Stories come naturally to me out of this place. I never hunger for ideas or inspiration. And I love Minnesota for that as much as anything else.
Spoiler alert! Cork’s wife Jo, a fan favorite, was killed in Heaven’s Keep. That was a bold move, Kent! Cork has been adjusting to life as a widower since then. Any romance on the horizon for the lonely detective?
This is a question I’ve been getting a lot from readers. What it tells me is that folks who read my work have become emotionally invested in Cork. They care about his well being. As do I. I’ve put Cork through the wringer in the last few books. In the next novel in the series, the one I’m currently working on, which is titled Trickster’s Point, he finds happiness—at least momentarily—in his relationship with one of the characters in the story. Really, it’s quite lovely, and I’m happy for him.
Tell us more about what you’re working on now.
Trickster’s Point, which is scheduled for publication in the summer of 2012, is the twelfth book in the Cork O’Connor series. In a way, it’s my homage to one of my favorite American novels, All the King’s Men. At heart, it’s about how power corrupts. The down and dirty is this: Cork O’Connor’s best friend from his boyhood has just been elected the first governor of Minnesota with Native blood. A few days after the election, he and Cork go bow hunting, something they’ve often done together. On that outing, the governor-elect ends up with an arrow in his heart, and the arrow belongs to Cork. So you know, of course, who gets blamed. I’ve been having a wonderful time with this story. I think it’ll be a great addition to the series.
A free sample excerpt from William’s book is available for download on the product page now!
NOOK owners: go to shop and search for “William Kent Krueger” to download his mystery series.Read more...
"Krueger's debut offers wonderful characters and makes the woods and waters vivid, wild and menacing... [A] fast pace, punctuated with humor and surprise in a book that is sure to appeal to fans of Nevada Barr and Tony Hillerman.”
—Booklist (starred review)
This one-of-a-kind series follows Cork O’Connor, a former sheriff living in Aurora, Minnesota, as he tries to piece his life back together following a separation from his wife and children. Thanks to his unique background (part Irish/part Anishinaabe Indian), Cork is in a unique position in this diverse small town. Recently unemployed, Cork still can’t shake the feeling that—badge or no-badge—he was born to solve crimes. So when a politician is murdered and a small Indian boy goes missing, he throws himself into the case, determined to prove a connection and expose the corruption that led to these tragedies. Like the snow that blankets this small Minnesota town, the deeper Cork digs for the truth, the darker things become.
A free sample excerpt from Iron Lake is available for download on the product page now.
NOOK owners: go to shop and search for “William Kent Krueger” to download his critically-acclaimed suspense series.Read more...
All of your books are written under the clever pseudonym Pseudonymous Bosch. Why have you decided to keep your identity secret?
There is a vast network of merciless evildoers who will stop at nothing to find me and learn the Secret. I am referring, of course, to my fans. Please don’t let them know who I am!
Your New York Times bestselling series, The Secret Series, deals with ONE big secret surrounded by a web of smaller secrets. Why did you choose to write about a secret? Will you ever reveal THE secret?
In a sense, all books reveal secrets—why would else would we read them? We want to learn something new and unknown except to the author. That’s why we all like mysteries so much. As for whether I’m going to reveal THE Secret, ask me after this interview is over…
Some people believe in a sixth sense. Do you?
…. Well, did you hear my answer?
If you had to give up any of the 5 senses, which would it be and why? Any sense but taste.
My life would have no meaning without the ability to taste chocolate.
In addition to senses, there are also heroes and villains in each of The Secret Series books. Is it more fun to write about the heroes or the villains?
Heroes—but only the villainous sides of them.
Do you have a favorite character from the series?
Max-Ernest, the boy with the mysterious condition, because he reminds me of myself.
Do you have a least favorite character from the series?
Max-Ernest, for the same reason.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
A professional chocolate taster?
What are some of your favorite books from when you were a kid?
The Hobbit, because my feet were prematurely hairy. And Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, of course.
What’s your real name?
Ha ha. Ho ho. He he. At least, that’s how it’s pronounced on a certain South Pacific island.
Fine, then, now that The Secret Series is over, what’s next for Pseudonymous Bosch?
Oh, I’m done with writing for now. It’s much too hard. In fact, I think I’m going to call my next book Write This Book and have my readers write it for me!
A free sample excerpt from The Name of This Book is Secret is available for download on the product page now!
NOOK owners: go to shop and search for “Pseudonymous Bosch” to download this wonderful series.Read more...
NOOK Readers have been snapping up our monthly Barnes & Noble Spotlight deals with great enthusiasm. New readers and old fans alike have sent books by Michael Connelly, J.A. Jance, Paula Quinn and more to the top of our bestseller list.
Adventure, shenanigans, and a lot of good-humor make The Name of This Book Is Secret an irresistible read.
NOOK owners: go to shop and search for “Pseudonymous Bosch” to download this wonderful series.Read more...
Whether you’re already finished with this month’s Barnes & Noble Spotlight title, Until Proven Guilty (available in August for just 99 cents), or it’s still on your to-be-read list, you can find out more about bestselling author J.A. Jance in this exclusive author Q&A. Learn how Jance’s portrayal of her beloved Seattle setting has changed over the years, and how many new J.P. Beaumont books are on the horizon (sort of!). Spoiler Alert: The following Q&A contains some minor plot details, in case you’re still working your way through the series.
You began writing the first J.P. Beaumont book in 1982. How did you come up with the story in Until Proven Guilty? And is Beau based on any real detective?
I started with the crime scene that is the start of the book. By the time that scene was over, I was looking at the world through J. P. Beaumont's eyes rather than my own. It's been that way ever since.
You’ve said that when you wrote the first Beau book, you thought you were writing a book, not a series. At what point in the series did you start to realize Beau was going to be around for a while?
It was a step by step process. I thought the first book was a one off. When they bought it as a series, I was surprised. And every time a publisher bought two more books, I knew I was there for that many more anyway.
Would the Beau in Betrayal of Trust recognize himself in Until Proven Guilty? How has he changed and evolved as a detective and as a man?
I think Beau is still Beau. He still has no idea that he's an attractive man--that women like him--and that's an attraction in and of itself. In the beginning, he had a problematic relationship with his former wife and was estranged from his children. He's been dealing with those issues as he's gotten older and, I like to believe, wiser. But he still has the same wry way of looking at the world. His point of view is always fun for me to write.
How do events in the real world impact on Beau’s world (eg, the AIDS crisis when the books first were published to the war on terror now)?
AIDS came into my life in the early eighties when I was working in the insurance business. Then it was a death sentence; now it's a chronic condition. I've had characters in books that reflect both those realities. The Beaumont books are a reflection of how Seattle has changed in the last 25 years.
Have you ever done anything in the J.P. Beaumont series that the fans got upset about? Did you ever kill anyone off any character that you regretted later?
People have objected to the romantic moment that occurred between Beau and Joanna in Partner in Crime. Some of them were under the impression that it was a full blown affair. It was a MOMENT!! At the end of the third Beaumont book, in the first draft Ron Peters was dead. My husband, my agent, and my editor all said, "Please don't kill Ron Peters." And you'll notice, he isn't dead.
In addition to the Beaumont series, you write a number of other series (Joanna Brady, Walker Family, Ali Reynolds). Do you have any special affection for Beau because he was your first? Do the characters ever interact in stories?
So far Ralph Ames, Beau's friend and attorney, has crossed over into both the Walker books and the Ali Reynolds stories. There have been two books, Partner in Crime and Fire and Ice, that stars Beaumont and Brady.
How far into the future do you plan Beau’s storylines? How many more J.P. Beaumonts can we look forward to?
I met outlining in Mrs. Watkins's sixth grade geography class. I hated outlining then; I hate it now. Nothing has happened to me in the intervening years to change my mind. I also have a terminal fear of Roman Numerals. If you don't do Roman Numerals, you can't outline. In other words, if I don't outline when it comes to writing books, you can bet I don't outline series, either. So the real answer to how many more J.P. Beaumonts is this: I have NO idea.
NOOK owners: go to shop and search for “JA Jance” to download her long list of bestselling novels.Read more...
This month, we’re excited to introduce a whole bunch of new fans to bestselling suspense writer J.A. Jance. Only in August, the first book in her J.P. Beaumont series, Until Proven Guilty, is available for just $0.99.
With 20 titles published over the past 25 years, Jance is a mainstay on the bestseller charts, garnering rave reviews along the way. Until Proven Guilty introduces Seattle homicide detective J.P. Beaumont, as he doggedly pursues a child-killer, while tracking a tyrannical religious leader who uses his twisted teachings to excuse child abuse. Jance masterfully writes taut, compelling suspense, and once you’ve finished this thrilling debut, you’ll want to devour the whole series.
Stay tuned for an exclusive author interview with J.A. later this month!
NOOK owners: go to shop and search for “JA Jance” to download her long list of bestsellers.Read more...
I have this idea that all of my stories are taking place in the same fictional universe. That makes it quite possible that the characters of different books would cross paths with one another. When I was writing the story that would become the book The Lincoln Lawyer I had the sense that the character was going to stick around in this universe so I gave him a name and history that would link him to Harry Bosch. So the plan was to explore that link at some point further down the road.
There are a lot of positives to doing this, I believe. One is that from the standpoint of publishing books, it connects readers who may like one character with all the other characters. When I was writing The Lincoln Lawyer, I had no idea how the book would fare out there with readers. But by connecting Haller to Bosch I was making the book and the character important to Bosch. I thought that might bring readers to this new story and character. The other very important thing is that the cross-pollinating of series and characters allows you to show long established characters from new angles. Putting Harry Bosch into the Lincoln Lawyer novels allows me to show Harry through the eyes of Mickey. Before that, what we know about Harry is pretty much delivered by Harry himself. So this construct gives the series a fresh look.
The Black Echo is available for only $0.99 this month!Read more...
After working the crime beat as a reporter in L.A., in 1992 Connelly switched gears and introduced LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch in The Black Echo, quickly garnering him an Edgar Award for Best First Novel—the first of many awards to come. Fast-forward 16 years, and he’s now the author of 17 books, with the 18th—The Drop—releasing later this year. The first book in Connelly’s other bestselling Mickey Haller series, The Lincoln Lawyer, was recently released as a hit film starring Matthew McConaughey.
Be sure to download Black Echo and start reading it soon. We’ll be hosting Michael for an author Q&A video on our NOOK Facebook page later this month, and we’ll want you to help come up with some great questions. So keep an eye out for a post asking for your input!
NOOK owners: go to shop and search for “Michael Connelly” to download his bestselling novels.Read more...
In this exclusive Unbound interview, Paula offers lots of fantastic insight into the history of this time period, her favorite characters in her novels, and even what prompted her to make a very controversial choice later in the series. SPOILER ALERT: If you’re new to the series, this interview contains some significant plot giveaways.
You started writing about the MacGregor family in your book LAIRD OF THE MIST, using the real-life history of the clan MacGregor from Scotland. What originally drew you to the MacGregor family?
A series of odd events drew me to write about MacGregors. It began long before my first book LORD OF DESIRE was published. I've always had an affinity for Scotland. I suspect many people do. But each time I tried to write a Scottish romance, it never felt right. I had no hero who fit the part and no idea where to begin to find him. Fortunately, he finally found me. It's said that some stories need to be told, and for me LAIRD OF THE MIST was one of them. My hero, Callum MacGregor was born of dreams that woke me to Ewan MacGregor singing in the movie “Moulin Rouge”, and Liam Neeson stating his name with Highland pride in “Rob Roy”. The name hit me like some profound revelation and I dove into every book and every website I could find to research this mighty clan. What I found shocked and appalled me and made me cry over my keyboard. Their three hundred year proscription was brutal and the thought of writing something that could capture their anguish and at the same time their stubborn resistance against extermination overwhelmed me. I wrote and published three medieval books before attempting it. Finally LAIRD OF THE MIST was born and it's been a fantastic and rewarding journey for me ever since.
You’ve done a wonderful job in these books of seamlessly weaving 17th c. Scottish history with King James I and the intrigue at his court with the family you’ve created and the beautiful romances that blossom. How do you do your research?
I love the library. Honestly, there is nothing more satisfying for me than sitting among thousands of books. I have dozens of Scottish reference books in my own personal library and have read them all cover to cover. Of course, the internet is a temptation I've succumbed to time and time again. It's easy to get sucked into little details that don't have anything to do with the book I'm writing, but every bit of information can be saved for another time. I love researching Britain's kings and I often try to find little tidbits about what kind of men they were beneath their crown. For instance, while researching King William I, I discovered that he didn't like being called William the Conqueror and on his deathbed, was afraid to meet God for all he had done. Things like this humanize these great symbols of power and make my imagination run wild.
As you were writing Callum and Kate MacGregor’s love story in LAIRD OF THE MIST, did you plan to create a series around them and their children? If not, what about them as characters or what about that writing experience encouraged you to expand their world and their family?
No, I didn't plan to expand the family at all. LAIRD OF THE MIST was difficult to write because of my own emotions involving the MacGregors. But I fell in love with the clan's resiliency and determination. They became Scotland for me. I really don't know if I could write another clan. As characters, Callum and Kate were so dimensional, so rich and profound. They brought the MacGregor proscription to life for me. Writing A HIGHLANDER NEVER SURRENDERS was a bit easier, given the fun loving rogue that was Graham Grant. I didn't want to forget these heroes and heroines and I felt that there were more stories to be told. I was thrilled to be given the chance to continue writing about them. The “Children of the Mist” series takes place after the proscription had ended, but there was enough intrigue in King James's court to create more stories and give the MacGregors the chance to be heroes in history. Even if some of that history is fictional.
In romances, we expect happily ever after for all of our beloved characters. But in SEDUCED BY A HIGHLANDER, you made the very bold move of killing a fan favorite. What inspired that? And how have readers responded?
Oh, gosh that was hard to do. Robert Campbell was one of my favorite characters and having him die in SEDUCED BY AHIGHLANDER was so difficult to write. But I think it added to the realism of the times. I mean, people die. It also added a depth to Tristan that I didn't know he possessed until I really began to examine him more closely. Robert was a man of honor, a true knight and his influence in Tristan's life was huge. Losing him at a young age changed Tristan's life, his path. It made his struggle with who he was and who he had become more realistic. What better way to honor a man you love then by trying to emulate him?
I thought readers would hate me for killing off Robert, but they saw him in Tristan and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
Which of the MacGregor heroines you’ve created is the most like you? And which is the most different and why?
All my heroines have bits and pieces of me in them. You have to draw on what you know to make a character believable. I couldn't write a heroine I didn't like for some reason or another. If I had to pick one heroine though that I related to the most, it would be Kate Campbell from LAIRD OF THE MIST. She knows her own mind but she's not so stubborn that she can't be persuaded to change it. She saw the best in the man she loved, even when the rest of the world saw the worst. She stood by him despite the dangers of doing so. She took the time to look deep into his character and find the hero she knew him to be.
I think the heroine least like me would be Davina Montgomery. She has this incredibly strength. I don’t know if could have been that strong if I lost my entire family.
You’ve written about all kinds of heroes from silver-tongued charmers and unrepentant rogues like Tristan MacGregor in SEDUCED BY A HIGHLANDER to steadfast and trustworthy, natural-born leaders of whom much is expected like Robert MacGregor in RAVISHED BY A HIGHLANDER and every kind in between. Of the heroes you’ve created, which one is your favorite and why?
Oh, I love this question--although it's the most difficult to answer. Callum from LAIRD will always be first in my heart. After all the research I'd done and the journey of finding him, I felt as if I lived in that book, loving him, watching him surrender his wounded soul to a woman who offered him what he needed the most; redemption. But really, I love all my heroes. They each possess something different that I find irresistible in a man. With Graham from A HIGHLANDER NEVER SURRENDERS, it was his sense of humor and cocky self-confidence. Rob from RAVISHED stole my heart with his sense of duty and commitment to his family. Tristan, ah Tristan, I loved his unrepentant grin, his unswerving charm, and most of all his deep sense of honor. In TAMED BY A HIGHLANDER, Connor Grant won me over with his honesty and loyalty to a woman he tried to stop loving, but never did. Of course, right now, I love Colin MacGregor the most. I just adore a man who thinks he's invincible in battle and in love, and then finds out his heart is just as soft as every other flower-picking man in his clan.
I’ve noticed a recurring theme in your books—the struggle between duty and desire. In your books, duty is usually an allegiance to your king or your clan. Do you think we still experience that same kind of struggle with our romantic relationships in modern times? Do you think modern love can conquer all?
Because of my own relationship with my husband, whom I've been with for 35 years, I'd have to say yes, modern love can conquer all. But it takes more work now to keep that commitment alive. It's just too easy to pack up and leave. I'd like to think that people have the same struggles between duty and desire that men and woman had a few hundred years back, we just don't see it as often, which is why, I guess romance novels are such a wonderful escape.
In your brand new book, TAMED BY A HIGHLANDER, you tell the beautiful story of Connor Grant and Mairi MacGregor, childhood sweethearts who were ripped apart by his duty to the king and now confront one another for the first time to find the desire is still there. What inspired you to create their story?
Having married my childhood sweetheart, my favorite stories are about love that lasts through time. There's something terribly romantic about loving someone since childhood, growing up together, enjoying life without the restrictions and responsibilities that come with age. You never forget that first kiss that set butterflies fluttering around your belly, the way your mouth goes dry or your knees melt when you see that person. I imagine it would be difficult though, to grow up loving someone and then having them betray the trust you've both built together over the years. How could it ever be repaired? Especially when the heroine is a staunch Scottish patriot, and the hero is a captain in the King's Royal Army?
I knew Callum's only daughter would be a force to be reckoned with. You don't grow up in the cold, harsh mountains with a bunch of warriors to look up to without learning how to keep yourself safe from danger...and heartbreak. I was curious to discover how a proud, strong, stubborn woman would react coming face to face with the person she'd once loved more than the Highlands. And how a duty-bound man, who thought he was well over the lass who plucked out his heart when he was twelve and hid it in the rocky mountain face of Sgurr Na Stri, would react when he realized she still had it. As I imagined, sparks flew!
So you only have one more book left in the “Children of the Mist” series: CONQUERED BY A HIGHLANDER which comes out in June 2012. Will it be difficult for you to end the MacGregors series? What will you do next?
Yes, it will be very difficult to end this series. The MacGregors hold a special place in my heart, and in the hearts of my readers. I'd love to continue, perhaps with Rob and Davina's bairns, or any of the other MacGregor grandchildren. The people of this clan led an exciting, often perilous existence, inspiring many poets, including Sir Walter Scott and William Wordsworth to write about them. Their history is rich and filled with heroes like Rob Roy who fought in the Jacobite uprising. There are more stories to tell, more battles to be fought and more warrior hearts to be won. Hmm, I'm inspired already.Read more...
Scottish historical romances are never short on lust and passion set against a backdrop of political conflict, and Quinn’s series captures Highlander romance at its best. Beautiful and fearless Kate Campbell is always prepared to defend her clan, but when she’s swept out of harm’s way by a handsome stranger during a brutal attack, her life and allegiance are upended. She soon learns that her hero is Callum MacGregor, her clan’s most hated enemy.
As Kate wrestles to reconcile her political allegiance with her growing attraction to MacGregor, this story of forbidden love reaches a level of intensity that only a Highlands story can.
The newest title in the MacGregor series, Tamed by a Highlander, is available now for preorder, allowing you to continue your MacGregor adventures long into the summer.
NOOK owners: go to shop and search for “Paula Quinn” to download her historical romances.Read more...