A new book by David Baldacci about Amos Decker is (almost) here! At Thrillers & More we love to read about the memory man and thanks to Dutch publisher A.W. Bruna, we were able to ask David a few questions and he was kind enough to answer them for us, thank you so much!
There is a new Amos Decker just around the corner and I for one cannot wait to read it! Can you tell us a bit about Walk The Wire?
Decker and his partner, Alex Jamison, are called up to North Dakota to investigate the murder of a young woman who was found with her body already having been autopsied. London, North Dakota is in the middle of the oil and gas fracking industry. It’s sort of a wild west atmosphere where so many people are coming in to make as much money as possible. And that brings in all the criminal elements. There are two other elements in the story that add to the mystery. A secret Air Force facility and a religious sect that owns land all around the Air Force facility. These two elements actually exist in North Dakota and were one reason I decided to set the story there.
Amos is not very sociable, a loner, grumpy, but very likable. When did Amos first pop up in your mind? How did you come up with this character and his “condition”?
Years ago I read a book titled Born on a Blue Tuesday. It was an autobiography by a man who has hyperthymesia, or perfect recall, and synesthesia, where your sensory pathways are comingled. These are both real conditions. That was fascinating to me and led me to read about brain trauma and the resulting changes to a person’s personality. I was an American football fan before all the CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and brain trauma issues came up. So having a football player who had a brain trauma made perfect sense. When your brain rewires itself around a damaged part, areas of the brain – memory, for instance – can be more forcefully accessed and enhanced. That’s what happened to Decker, and his personality changed as well. So instead of the outgoing, gregarious person he used to be, he’s aloof, can’t pick up social cues and is a completely different person.
How many books will there be in this series? Do you have a number in mind, or do you play it by ear?
I play it all by ear. I will keep writing about Decker so long as I feel he has more room to evolve as a character.
What inspires you to write? Is it something you have always wanted to do?
Writing isn’t a job, passion, or hobby for me. It’s part of my identity. It’s part of my lifestyle. If I’m not engaged in the process of writing, I’m not a happy person. It’s something I’ve always wanted to spend my life doing. I was an early reader, and losing myself in someone else’s imagination was the most enjoyable thing I can remember doing.
When writing, do you have any routines? Or do you just sit down and go for it?
My days are typical for being atypical. I write at all hours, in all sorts of different places. I don’t count words or pages. I write until the tank is empty. The only perfect place to write does not involve a physical space, it’s all in your head. If you’re in the right mental zone, you can write anywhere. I’m living proof of that.
Do you plot everything first or do you write by the seat of your pants and let your characters and story lead the way?
I do some outlining, but I like to let the story grow organically. If you immerse yourself in the story as opposed to an outline, then you can get a feel for what your characters are capable of and how the story should take shape. It’s like being in an athletic contest as opposed to reading about one. Your reflexes are sharper, your instincts more fine-tuned, because they have to be for you to succeed. You can react better and faster and more plausibly because you are there in the trenches with what you are writing about. But every writer needs to come up with a process that works for them. If outlines do that, then go for it. But keep in mind that your process may change over time. There’s nothing wrong with that. Embrace it if it works for you.
Do you ever get stuck in a story? What do you do to get “unstuck”?
Every writer gets stuck. When I do, I go off and do something else. I walk, I take a shower. I have solved more plot issues in the shower than anywhere else. And I have the added benefit of being really clean all the time!
Have you started to write a new book already?
I’m writing two books simultaneously. The next Atlee Pine thriller and the sequel to One Good Deed. So one week I’m in 2020 and the next I’m in 1949. My own personal time machine. And yes, it’s as cool as it sounds.
You have written so many books so far, do you still get excited or nervous maybe when a new book is released?
Butterflies reign when a new book comes out. I’m the sort who takes nothing for granted, including whether a new book will sell well or that readers will love it. So I’m on pins and needles right now. And that’s a good thing. Fear is a great antidote to complacency.
Do you read a lot yourself? Is there a book you’ve read recently that you can recommend?
I read all the time. A few I have just finished are Broken by Don Winslow, The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson, The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler, and Spying on the South by Tony Horwitz.
How would your best friend describe you?
My best friends would define me as aloof and outgoing, sometimes within minutes of each other.
Having written so much and for so long… do you still have dreams as a writer?
I want to keep this going as long as I can. To be able to wake up each day and create something that didn’t exist before I came up with, it is the greatest feeling in the world.