Today’s #TalkTuesday interview is also our #TeaserTuesday and First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, all of which feature Killer Thriller by Lee Goldberg . A joint effort by Elise and I! Enjoy!
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Killer Thriller by Lee Goldberg blends suspense and action, with a lot of humor. With this series fiction becomes reality.
This plot has a deadly global conspiracy by Chinese intelligence trying to topple the United States. Ian Ludlow, a bestselling author, is known for his thrillers whose main character is larger-than-life operative Clint Straker. Because his stories have a tendency to come true the CIA and other national security agencies have taken notice. But the Chinese intelligence services also believe he and his companion, Margo French, are foreign assets who are using the cover of researching his next novel. This might remind readers of the real-life Department of Homeland Security’s Analytical Red Cell program, which asked authors to come up with scenarios of how the terrorists would launch an attack.
Now in Hong Kong to research details for his next story and to observe the filming of one his novels, he and his assistant Margo get more than they bargained for. Seeing them as a threat, the Chinese attempt to assassinate both. Suddenly, Margo and Ian find themselves in a real-life adventure where he must use his writing skills to help them escape.
This is a fun read because the humor does not stray into Never Never Land but is a dry, clever, sarcastic banter. The characters are fun, witty, and flawed. They are not super-heroes so the scenarios are believable.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for this series?
Lee Goldberg: It was a three-stage evolution. I know so many authors who write kick-ass, high-action thrillers. If put in the same situations as their heroes, they might not fare very well. Many are balding and overweight. Would they be more resourceful than I might think? After all, while they may not have the physical attributes, experience, and training as their protagonists, they do think the same way. Many writers’ protagonists have a deductive genius with incredible observational skills, or are brilliant thieves able to plot elaborate heists, or are clever con artists able to pull of outrageous scams. Maybe the writer might have those same talents and does not realize it?
EC: What about the other two stages?
LG: My brother Todd was writing a book with Brad Meltzer. Over dinner Brad mentioned how he consulted with Homeland Security. I know several authors who did this as well. They were asked their opinions because they have the imagination to come up with situations. I guess their brains were picked because the authors might see things that had not been thought of. Then I read a column by crime writer Lawrence Block. He wrote about another author whose identity was stolen and complained that the police were doing nothing. Block suggested the author should do what he would have his hero do. Basically, approaching the crime, the same way as his hero. I put all of these stages together in my head where an author was put in the same kind of jeopardy as his character. I am hoping he rises to the occasion.
EC: You mention in the book UCLA, is that your Alma Mater?
LG: Yes, I wrote four novels while a student there. I was also a reporter for their newspaper, the Daily Bruin.
EC: So who is Ian Ludlow based upon?
LG: He is essentially me. While I was at UCLA I wrote under the pseudonym Ian Ludlow. I came up with this name by taking the last name of the author Robert Ludlow and the first name of the Sci-Fi writer Ian Fleming. One of the books I wrote while there was called .357 Vigilante. It came out the same week that Bernhard Getz shot some would be muggers on a subway train. This book became a best seller.
EC: So how are you and Ian similar?
LG: What Ian and I share in common is our physical build, the way we dress, and what we do for a living. We are both slightly overweight, wear jeans and polo shirts. We have our heroes that are far more capable than us with a lot more world experience. And, like him, I’m creeped out by how much of the stuff that I make up to entertain people is coming true.
EC: This plot seems to be steeped in reality?
LG: Much of the stuff I made up in Killer Thriller is now fact. I laughed at a critical review that said I was lazy because I just took facts out of the headlines. Not at all. For example, every day there is another revelation in the news about how China has hardwired “backdoors” into the technology we manufacture in their country so they can spy on us, whether it’s security cameras and cell phones or children’s toys. I recently had the surreal experience of editing the galleys of my next novel, Lost Hills. Some of the entirely fictional events I described on those pages were coming true on the evening news exactly how I imagined them. It has also been a constant problem while I’ve been writing the third Ian Ludlow, Fake Truth. I kept editing it because the fiction kept becoming reality. I’m forced to frequently decide whether to replot my story or just keep going.
EC: Why the humor?
LG: I am tired of thrillers and police procedurals that have no humor. I know from my own life experiences that humor arises from the darkest times. I find books without humor really boring and flat. I think I am walking a fine line between writing a thriller and poking fun at them, but not like Austin Powers, Maxwell Smart, or Inspector Clouseau.
EC: How would you describe Margo?
LG: She is an innocent person who gets caught up in an extraordinary situation. She used to be a dog walker, folk singer, and author escort so she has a lot of talents, but just cannot find herself yet. Through Ian she finds the perfect job that complements all her talents. Because she is gay there is no chance she and Ian will become romantically involved. Some in Hollywood have shown interest but they want Margo not to be gay so she and Ian can get together. I said, no way. I wanted to write a rip-roaring thriller without the saving of the girl aspect. I am actually poking fun at that cliché.
EC: In this book you had the characters traveling all over the world?
LG: I have gone to all the places in this book except Singapore and Turkey. I do not think anything can replace the boots on the ground where an author can pick up the smells, objects, and a sense of the place. It is a great excuse to travel the world. I always post on Facebook and Twitter where I am.
EC: How would you describe Ian?
LG: He has an enormous imagination who has an uncanny ability to predict the future. He gets caught up in his own plots. I think Ian is smarter than he realizes.
EC: What about your next books?
LG: Lost Hills will come out in September and is a police procedural where the main character is the youngest detective in LAPD homicide. Then next year will be the third Ian Ludlow novel.
Killer Thriller (Ian Ludlow Thrillers Book 2)
In #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Goldberg’s action-packed sequel to the Washington Post bestseller True Fiction, a hapless writer is pitted against an enemy nation mounting a treacherous plot lifted from one of his thrillers.
Everybody loves Ian Ludlow’s action novels—especially the CIA—because the spies know something the public doesn’t: his fictional plots have a frightening tendency to come true. Ian is in Hong Kong with his resourceful assistant Margo French to research his wildest story yet—a deadly global conspiracy by Chinese intelligence to topple the United States.
What Ian doesn’t know is that his horrifying scenario is happening and that the Chinese mistakenly believe he’s an undercover superspy assigned to foil their scheme. Now Ian is trapped in his own terrifying thriller, on the run from assassins, and racing against time to prevent an epic disaster. He’s written himself into a corner that could cost his life…and his country.
First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros
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