Jeffery Deaver Interview - The Steel Kiss
We were introduced to detective Lincoln Rhyme in 1997, in The Bone Collector. Fast-forward nineteen years and fans around the world are awaiting the release of the 12th novel in the series; The Steel Kiss. What’s new for Lincoln and why is he back?
In The Steel Kiss, a multiple murderer uses products in our daily life to murder innocent victims. His rants complain about consumerism gone wild, disparity of income, and how manufacturing has ruined the earth, and there seems to be no stopping him. Yet, far from a slavering madman, the killer is as much a victim of the world around him as he is a predator. Meanwhile, on the personal front, Amelia Sachs’s old boyfriend has been released from prison and works his way back into her life, assuring her that he is innocent and beseeching her to help him prove that. As tensions between Lincoln and Amelia grow, we wonder: Is it the end of their relationship? And Lincoln Rhyme has a conflict too: He is trying to abandon criminal work. Will he actually retire?
How would you sum up The Steel Kiss in three words?
DON’T BUY PRODUCTS!
A series lasting this long is quite remarkable. How do you keep your readers on their toes and coming back each year for more?
I am frank about my rule that an author must write for his or her readers. Part of that is giving them a tried and true formula (no problem with that word at all!): a fast-paced book, with lots of internal plot reversals, esoterica about a specific topic (in this case the law of products liability, and some other topics I won’t mention here) and three or four surprise endings. Another part of that mission is never coasting. I write each book as if it were my first and spend a great deal of time coming up with plots and characters I hope will delight my readers on every page.
In the novel, we learn of an intriguing killer “who turns common products into murder weapons”. Could you share what some of these “common products” are and why you chose them?
My job is to scare the socks off readers, so I picked products to sabotage that we would run into frequently. I don’t want to give too much away, but suffice it to say that upon reading The Steel Kiss, you will never, ever get on an escalator again, heat tea in a microwave, or operate a power tool. As for driving your car? No way.
There must be one... So what’s your favourite chapter in The Steel Kiss and why?
I’m afraid I don’t have favorite chapters, as I write in scenes, not chapters. My favorite scenes in The Steel Kiss, though, are those between Lincoln Rhyme and a protégé who is learning forensics from him: Juliette Archer. I usually prefer writing personal relationship scenes to those involving action.
Did you face writer's block, or as you like to call it ‘ideas block’ whilst writing The Steel Kiss? What’s your top tip for overcoming this?
Outlining. I’m often blocked when coming up with ideas—it happens to all writers—but it’s debilitating only when you don’t plan the story out ahead of time. I spend eight months outlining a book, jotting short notes about what happens at various points in the story. When I come to a roadblock, I simply jump ahead or backward to another part in the schematic, fill in some plotting at that point and then I revisit the blockage. It might have to be eliminated, or I might now have insights that let me fill in what comes next. My number-one morsel of advice to beginning writers: Never start writing until you know where you’re going to go.
Across all your work, have you ever based any characters on people you know? If so, which characters?
No. In order to remain in charge of the story, I need to create from whole cloth the characters and the world in which they live.
What’s on your reading list for 2016?
A huge amount of nonfiction in researching for my next book (sorry, can’t give anything else away!).
We all know you’re a huge fan of James Bond and had the great privilege of writing one of the novels, Carte Blanche. But apart from 007, did you have any other favourite books as a child?
J.R.R. Tolkien. Yes, I can recite a passage or two in Elvish.
Can you give us a hint at what’s next for Lincoln?
Yes, Lincoln will be back in 2017 (I’m doing back to back novels featuring him), and it involves one of the more cultured and interesting serial killers that I’ve ever come up with, if I do say so myself!
The Steel Kiss
Smart technology is everywhere. It makes our lives easier, our connections faster and journeys quicker. But in the wrong hands, it can kill...Detective Amelia Sachs is hot on the trail of a murderer, chasing him through a Brooklyn department store, when her pursuit is fatally interrupted. An escalator gives way, forcing Sachs down into the machinery to help the man trapped in its depths...and enabling the suspect to flee.
But was it simply a freak accident? Could the killer's presence in the store really be a coincidence? As the body count threatens to grow, Sachs and forensic expert Lincoln Rhyme realise they are facing one of their most formidable opponents ever. Someone able to turn the most commonplace product into a murder weapon. Someone who can kill by remote control...View Book
The Steel Kiss is published 22nd March 2016.