The Cold Moon Interview
Question: The Cold Moon is the seventh Lincoln Rhyme novel. When you wrote The Bone Collector, did you know that you were writing the first in a series?
Jeffery Deaver: I had no idea. It never occurred to me that he would become such a popular character (the books are selling in 150 countries and translated into 35 languages; Iceland is the latest on the list). But my goal is to give readers something they enjoy, and because so many people enjoyed The Bone Collector, I thought I’d follow up with another. Good thing I didn’t kill him off at the end of the story, which I thought about doing.
Q: How does writing for the series differ from writing a stand-alone novel, like Garden Of Beasts?
JD: There are two problems with a series. First, you have to write the same thing, but make it different. For instance, all of the Rhyme/Sachs books have to involve forensic science, police procedure and issues of Rhyme’s physical condition. But at the same time, I’m always looking for ways to make the story fresh. The second problem is that authors can’t truly put their continuing characters in danger. So I need to come up with clever ways to jeopardize them (like personal relationship stories, or giving them sidekicks whom they love and care for—and whom I gleefully murder in chapter five).
Q: Throughout these books, Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs have faced many smart, complicated, and evil characters. Do you have a favorite “villain” from the books?
JD: That’s a good question—and a hard one, since it’s such a pleasure to create bad guys. Not to be self-serving but I must say that my favorite is the Watchmaker, the villain in The Cold Moon. I say this because he’s so smart and distant and calculating and . . . . Well, I can’t say any more. It might give something away.
Q: Lincoln’s aide, Thom, has become a favorite character for many readers. Does the affection that readers have for the smaller characters, like Lon, Thom, Mel, and Fred, ever surprise you? (And why did you not give Thom a last name?)
JD: Yes, a lot of people like Thom. One reader said if I ever kill him off, she’d tell all her friends never to read a Deaver book again. I like to think that the characters in a series book are like friends. We like to depend on them, spend time with them, allow them into our lives. Readers feel the same way. Every time a book comes out, it’s like a reunion. As for Thom’s last name, I like to keep a bit of mystery in my characters.
Q: In The Cold Moon, Amelia goes through a particularly difficult time professionally and personally, doubting herself and the job. Do you start each book already knowing how you want particular characters to evolve and change or does it happen naturally during the writing process? Do you already have long-term plans for each individual character?
JD: Because I outline extensively, I know exactly what kind of agony I’m going to put my characters through before I start writing. Each of the books has the core plot—the crime. But our lives are not one-dimensional; neither should a book be. I like to get at least two or three subplots and conflicts going, then, of course, resolve them. As for the long-term plans, I’m not as certain, though I do know my goal is emotional enjoyment of the book, not writing reality. There’ll be plenty of carnage and loss in the future of the series, but readers can rest assured that generally the heroes will be around for the next book in the series.
Q: How long do you plan on writing this series? And can you give us any insight on what to expect down the road for Lincoln and Amelia?
JD: I’ll write the series for as long as readers want to read it. I hear some writers say, “I write for myself.” No way. You write for your readers, and I intend to do everything in my power to keep giving them what they want. Lincoln and Amelia will continue to be both personally and professionally linked, which isn’t to say that there might not be changes in the future—especially if, say, figures from the past were to show up. . . . All I can say is: Stay tuned.
Q: There’s a fascinating character in The Cold Moon, Kathryn Dance, a policewoman from California, who is an expert in interrogation and kinesics, body language. Any chance she might make an appearance in future books?
JD: Yes, I enjoyed creating Kathryn. A young widow with two children, she’s a former jury consultant and is now an agent with the California Bureau of Investigation. And indeed she’ll be the main character of a new series I’ll be starting next year and alternating with the Lincoln Rhyme books.