The Bodies Left Behind Interview

October 14, 2008

Question: I know you plan on alternating between a Lincoln Rhyme book and a Kathryn Dance book, so this stand-alone thriller came as a bit of a surprise when I read it. Where did the idea for “The Bodies Left Behind” come from?

Jeffery Deaver: I was in Manchester, England, a few years ago and a couple came up to me and rather shyly said, “Mr. Deaver, we know it takes you a year to write a book, but we read it only a day or two. Can’t you write faster.” I was flattered — and I took it as a challenge. If fans wanted more books, I’m happy to give them more — though it may be a few years before I produce two in a six-month period again. (I’m not as young as I used to be!) What I enjoyed about “Bodies” is that the book gave me the chance to push a bit, since it’s not a Lincoln or Kathryn story. “Bodies” is filled with typical Deaver twists and turns, and takes place over a short period of time, but it also has one of the more shocking endings of any book I’ve ever written. Not gory or macabre, but I’ve been told it takes the breath away. I’m calling the novel “Thelma and Louise” meets “Deliverance.”

Question: This book is a true thriller with non-stop action. I’ve heard it described by one reviewer as a cat-and-mouse chase through the woods. Did you spend a few nights in the woods as part of your research? Have you spent time in a park like your fictional Marquette State Park, where this book takes place?

Jeffery Deaver: I grew up in the Midwest and spent a lot of time in the woods of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada, fishing and hiking. I suppose the idea for the book came out of my overnight camping trips to places that were nowhere near “civilization” (like 7-Elevens and Pizza Huts!). I remember many nights where the forests were alive with noise and our youthful imaginations populated the place with all manners of killers, not to mention the more likely bears and wolves. I decided then I wanted to set a book in such a place.

Question: Brynn McKenzie, the off-duty deputy at the center of this story, is a really interesting, strong female character. How would you describe Brynn?

Jeffery Deaver: I greatly enjoyed creating Brynn. She’s resourceful, strong, intelligent . . . She’s a mother with a troubled son, a daughter of a strong mother, a devoted and yet reticent wife. Much of her outer toughness masks some deep insecurities. One of the most enjoyable things about this book was unraveling the real person Brynn McKenzie is, as the story goes along and the various plots unfold. I think readers will love learning about her as much as they do following the crime plot.

Question: You’ve created a lot of bad guys in your books and, in “The Bodies Left Behind,” you add Lewis and Hart to that long list. They work together in this story but are distinctly different in style and experience. Did you model them after anyone in particular?

Jeffery Deaver: I really wanted to explore the various faces of evil, and Lewis and Hart are bad in very different ways. Writing villains is great fun for me, and I particularly enjoyed developing the relationship between these two, seeing how they move from antagonism to a true understanding of who each is. After all, we can’t have cardboard caricatures of villains, otherwise there’s no emotional connection with the story.