The Sleeping Doll Interview
Question: Can you describe Kathryn Dance to us — both personally and professionally?
Jeffery Deaver: Kathryn Dance is an agent with the California Bureau of Investigation, which is a bit like a state version of the FBI. She’s operating out of their fictional Monterey, California, office. She’s a young widow, whose FBI agent husband died several years ago, and the mother of two children, Wes and Maggie. The family (along with their two dogs) live in Pacific Grove, about a hundred and twenty miles south of San Francisco, an idyllic village on the water, surrounded by the agricultural fields of central California. Her parents live in even more idyllic Carmel, nearby.
Kathryn’s law enforcement specialty is one I find quite fascinating. She’s an expert at kinesics — body language — and more broadly in interrogation and interviewing witnesses and suspects. The CBI tends to investigate major crimes, like serious homicides and gang activities, and Kathryn will find herself in the thick of heavy-duty police activities.
Of course, in all my books I love to keep the heat turned up on all levels and Kathryn will not only have the challenges of tracking down the bad guys but wrestling with the issues faced by a single parent and single woman.
Question: What was your inspiration for her character?
Jeffery Deaver: Readers, actually. I try to stay attuned to what readers of my — and other — thrillers enjoy. After all, I write for them, not for myself. Readers clearly like the forensics of the Lincoln Rhyme series (and, say, The Devil’s Teardrop or The Blue Nowhere), but there is also a huge interest in psychological crime solving, which I don’t have the chance to explore too much in the Rhyme books. Hence, Kathryn, who’ll match mental wits with the villains in the series featuring her.
Question: In the first of the Kathryn Dance books, The Sleeping Doll, we’re introduced to a number of people who work for the CBI and other law enforcement agencies in the area. We learn a fair amount about these characters, more so than Rhyme’s associates in his series. Is this intentional?
Jeffery Deaver: Yes, it is. While a Kathryn Dance book will be typical of the way I write — very fast paced, lots of twists, surprise endings (yes, note the plural) — I’m focusing more on character in this series. I had a great time creating her co-workers (some naive, some quirky, some troubled, and some downright sleazy) and others who populate the area. People who have read advanced copies have let me know about those they love — and love to hate.
Question: This series takes place in the Monterey Peninsula of California, a place where you’ve spent quite a bit of time. What makes it an interesting place to write about?
Jeffery Deaver: The Peninsula is a wonderful setting for a crime novel. Geographically, of course, it’s gorgeous, rocky shores, rolling hills, forests and farmland, often shrouded in ominous fog. More important are the demographics of the area. There is phenomenal wealth in Carmel and Big Sur and the vineyards. There are vicious gangs in parts of Monterey and Salinas. There are military bases. There’s a huge mix of cultures in a relatively small area, bringing both great richness and conflict to the place. Finally, the history is very evocative for thriller writing. The Peninsula has been home to native American tribes, Spanish explorers, missionaries, Latino and Asian immigrants, ruthless magnates, cowboys, fishermen, gold-rush miners . . . not to mention a great literary tradition, thanks to writers like John Steinbeck and Henry Miller.
Question: Is your plan to alternate each year between a Lincoln Rhyme novel and a Kathryn Dance novel?
Jeffery Deaver: Yes. I’m already halfway through with my new Lincoln Rhyme novel for 2008 and starting to outline my next Kathryn Dance book for 2009.