Friday, June 29, 2012

Five on Friday - Jeff Abbott

It's that time of week again! So excited to share with you another great writer. Before I do, just a couple reminders.

Today's the last day you can leave me a comment for a chance to win a copy of Julia Heaberlin's fabulous debut PLAYING DEAD.

You still have until Sunday to enter for that chance to win ALL of Linda Castillo's Amish thriller novels.  And if you're really hot to win this one, Criminal Element is giving a set away as well...another shot at all four books.

And if you tell me what Ellie Hatcher's drink of choice is, you might win a personalized book from Alafair Burke!

If you're a Facebook user, you'll want to check out the Friday Reads page. They have a chance for you to win Julie Hyzy's AFFAIRS OF STEAK or Steven Foreman's BOCA NIGHTS.  

That's it for contests right now, but keep an eye out. I'll have more fun stuff to give away this summer.

Now, on to the fun stuff.

I was fortunate enough to meet Jeff Abbott in person a couple years ago at Murder & Mayhem in Muskego. Then I was able to catch up with him again last year at Bouchercon. He and I traded off interviewing Ridley Pearson - me at M&M, Jeff at B'Con. And Jeff did such a stupendous job. He's smart and funny and a genuinely nice guy.

However, I had "met" Jeff prior to that through social media. He's on both Facebook and Twitter. Jeff is raising a family of Saints fans down in Texas. And it's such a blast to hear him tell the wonderful stories he does.

Jeff also participated in the six word memoir project awhile back and then wrote the best guest post here. If you missed out on those, please take a minute to jump back and check those out because they'll tell you a bit about Jeff the person as well.

Jeff's gearing up for a new release. His second Sam Capra novel, The Last Minute, is due out on Tuesday, so I'm especially thrilled that he made time to put together his responses to Five on Friday. Without further ado...Here are the questions Jeff chose to answer:

1. A place I’ve never visited but would like to is: The town of Brecon, in Wales, where a branch of my father’s family came from back in 1630. It’s not that often that an American family knows their town of origin from that far back, so I’d like to go and see it. I often think this is sentimental, but it would be nice to think I walked the same streets as my first European ancestors who came to America.

2. When I’m reading a book, I absolutely hate it when a writer: Makes the hero too perfect. I have had to put a couple of books aside recently because the hero is so well-loved, so wonderful, so relentlessly competent that they don’t make mistakes or aren’t really facing any difficult decisions or have any real flaws. It’s like a job interview when the applicant gives the pat, insincere answer when asked about their own shortcomings: “My biggest flaw is I work too much.” Please, you got bigger flaws, you’re kidding yourself. It gets tiresome. But you see it a fair amount, and I don’t know why, because characters who make mistakes or are grappling with difficult choices are way more relatable and interesting. Mistakes or difficult choices = drama. Here is a pop culture example, far removed from thrillers: last week my sons and I sat down and watched the entire Lord of the Rings film trilogy, which they had not seen before and I hadn’t seen in ten years. And it is really striking to see the difference in the four main hobbit characters: they are naïve, and innocent, and make many mistakes in the course of the movie, but they learn and grow from them and by the end, they’re different men (or hobbits as it were). They’ve grown into the people they were destined to be. And even in a series, there is room for that growth.

3. The TV show I absolutely can’t miss is: Breaking Bad. I resisted watching it until a producer friend made me watch it, and I think it is the most suspenseful show on television right now, and it is hitting a hard note in our cultural zeitgeist: what is success, what is morality in an immoral world, what would you do for the people you love? The writing is blistering and the acting is terrific. But it is not an easy show, or a show for the squeamish.

4. If I could sit next to anyone (not related to me) on a cross-country flight, it would be: This might surprise some people who know me, but I’d like to talk to JJ Abrams, the director/creator behind LOST, ALIAS, the most recent MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE films, and the STAR TREK reboot. Mostly because I think he’s an interesting storyteller and I’d like to talk shop with him. He wrote a thought-provoking piece for Wired magazine a couple of years ago about the value of mystery in a story, drawing on a box his grandfather had given him that he’d never opened. We’ve forgotten the value of mystery, of leaving something to the imagination these days. I think in a world where we are encouraged to overshare so many details of our lives, that a little mystery might be what keeps us human.

5. The #1 item on my bucket list right now is: Writing a young adult series of books. I’ve got several ideas, it’s just finding the time and developing the right idea. I wrote a young adult version of my novel PANIC just for the UK market, and I had great fun writing for a new audience and my sons were so excited to read a story I’d written more for them. But I’m not going to do it just to do it. It really has to be the right idea.

I am absolutely in agreement with Jeff on the perfect hero syndrome. And it seems that many people dislike this kind of protagonist. So why are people still writing him/her??

Many thanks to Jeff for taking time out to answer my silly questions. JJ Abrams, huh, Jeff? I'll be waiting for that YA series. I have a niece and nephew that will soon be old enough for that level of book.

Hope you're all keeping cool through this heat wave and have plenty of wonderful reading material! Have a great weekend and HAPPY READING!!


Class factotum June 29, 2012 at 9:57 AM  

Agreed on the perfect protagonist. Nobody likes perfect people in real life - why would we like them in fiction?

Peppermint Ph.D. June 30, 2012 at 5:18 PM  

Who wants to read about perfect people? Not me; that's for sure :p I think it's unrealistic as well for someone whose job is immersed in violence not to be affected by it over time.

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