If you like to write or read thrillers, today’s your chance to hear from one of the best thriller writers and maybe even throw out a question of your own. We’ll start with five from me.
Hi Brett. Welcome to Straight From Hel.
Helen: I love the strong, intelligent character of Orlando and how she handles the relationship with Quinn. When you first envisioned her, did you see her as an ongoing character?
I always wanted there to be a strong female character to balance out Quinn (in fact, I would argue that Orlando is even stronger than he is). And, yes, I had planned from the start for her to be ongoing. But how she actually came to be? It was organically as I was writing. She just showed up on the page when I needed her, and grew very quickly into the person she has become.H: Quinn does a lot of traveling in the books. What kind of research do you do on the various settings?
I try to visit most of the locations in my books. Or, at least, the main ones. I’ve spent time in Berlin, Vietnam, Singapore, London & Paris (the main locations of the next Quinn book). When there, I take tons of photos and movies as I wander the streets. Often I’ll find a café or restaurant I like, and just plop myself down for several hours and watch the world go by to get a sense of the local ebb and flow. One thing I don’t do a lot of is hit the obvious tourist spots. I prefer the city or town or country as they locals see it.H: What is your process for coming up with each storyline? Does an idea percolate in your head for months, then you research, then you begin to write? Do you already have outlines for future books?
It’s kind of a combination of things. I usually have an opening scene in mind, and kind of know where I want to end things. Of course, more and more, I’ve been outlining as it helps me stick to deadlines, but these are only about 10 to 15 pages, so not overly detailed. I do let ideas percolate for a while, too. I would consider this percolation mental loose outlines of future books. Other than that I might have some notes written down, but don’t have detailed outlines for future work. On the research/travel front, sometimes I’ll travel first, before I even know what the story will be about, and let the location inspire me. Sometimes I’ll have the story in mind before I hit the road.H: My husband has gotten hooked on your Jonathan Quinn series, so I asked him what question he would like to pose. He said he would like to know how you came up with Quinn’s job description of “cleaner.” When my husband thinks of a “cleaner,” he thinks of someone who cleans up a crime scene.
I’ve always been fascinated by what happens after the action happens. For instance, after one spy kills another. What if the body needs to disappear? Who would do that? What kind of skills would he need? I’ve seen characters like this in the movies LA FEMME NIKITA and, most notably, PULP FICTION (the Harvey Keitel character really stood out to me.)H: And lastly, what has been the most difficult part of promoting your books?
I don’t think about it as difficult, not in the sense of doing promotional things. I want people to know about my books, so promoting is a necessary part of that. I enjoy connecting with people, too. I guess the difficulty would be getting people’s attention from all the other choices they have (other books, movies, video games, other activities.)
Thank you so much, Brett!
"Breakneck pacing, colorful locales and dizzying plot twists make the Quinn series a welcome addition to the political thriller genre."If Brett’s answers have piqued your interest in Jonathan Quinn, you’ll want to visit Brett’s website where he posted a conversation with Quinn.
But before you go, say hi to him or ask a question of your own.