Letter: February 10, 2012
I was so pleased with my last novel that I thought I would never top it. THE LAST CHILD won a second Edgar Award and spent six months on the New York Times bestseller list. It felt like a lot to live up to, but I’d decided early to write a book that was different from everything I’d done before.
All of my previous books (THE KING OF LIES, DOWN RIVER, THE LAST CHILD) were about normal people looking for strength, about small people finding the power to overcome whatever horrible thing I’d inflicted on their lives. I’d never written a protagonist with a skill set, never created a man who knew from the start exactly what he was willing to do and, more importantly, how to do it. And I really wanted to write that guy! A character that was strong, confident, dangerous.
IRON HOUSE is what came from that, and while it differs from THE LAST CHILD, it has all the things that made the other books work – loyalty and fear, courage and faith and betrayal. The tension is more physical, the violence more overt; but it’s a combination that works, a full-on thriller with the same deep emotional core.
It’s funny, really. I thought I’d focus on the plot and write faster because of it. I thought I’d blaze through the story, but that’s not how it happened. It took more work, instead, more time. Because at the end of the day, my characters need to be real, they need to live and hurt - to be relatable - and that’s all about motivation. It’s about depth and life and the things that drive us to be extraordinary. It’s what makes me most proud of IRON HOUSE: that I was able to build this very hard-charging thriller without losing all of the things that made my other books work so well: the people, the intricacies of relationship, emotionality and need. The book is a thriller, no doubt, but you will also find much to discuss. I hope you enjoy.