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Recent Q & A

JT Beard writes: I enjoyed "Dark Places" and "Blood Price", but one thing in particular struck me as jarring -- in "Blood Price" you spend time setting the background of Saskia as a wartime sniper who is now eager for revenge against the war criminals, but you posit the "Brady Bill" as a plot point preventing the protagonists from having firearms at Burning Man. You realize, I hope, that the Brady Bill only requires a waiting period for handguns? Hunting rifles, the kind used by snipers, can be bought over the counter without a waiting period anywhere in the US.

It just seemed really odd that in both Dark Places and The Blood Price you seem to have gone out of your way to create violent encounters between your protagonists and their antagonists where the antagonists have firearms and the protagonists don't.

[...spoilerific details snipped...]

Just curious why you've gone to such lengths to avoid use of firearms where it seems like they are the obvious solution for the characters involved, but no solid explanation exists for why they are not used?

It's an interesting question, and you're absolutely right - my characters don't use guns much. It occurred to me the other day, in fact, that across my four books, between all my protagonists and the fairly dire situations they have faced, exactly one of them has fired one bullet from one gun. (Near the very end of Night of Knives.)

I think there are basically three reasons I downplay gunplay:

1) The theoretical reason is that the climaxes tend to occur in places where it's hard to get guns. Firearms are strictly forbidden at Burning Man, where your vehicle is searched on the way in, and bringing weapons into Morocco wouldn't exactly be a walk in the park either.

2) The real reason is that guns tend to make for very simple, very dull shoot-em-up scenes. They might be exciting in movies, but they're usually awfully boring in books.

3) And then there's the cultural context: we Canadians don't really think of guns as problem-solving tools, so my mind naturally veers in other directions first.

Nancie and Christine ) write (independently): Are you writing a book as a continuation of Invisible Armies? and Is there another one in the works? maybe taking place in South America? and maybe again with Danielle, Keiran and [name elided to avoid spoilers]?

It's possible. A new thriller has begun to gel in my mind, and at least part of it will in fact take place in South America. It could even be a sequel to Invisible Armies, though I'm not sure yet whether it will be.

Kora writes: Any adventures in the making for Paul Wood? I love his sense of humour.

In the back of my mind, yes: in fact, I know exactly how a third Paul Wood book would begin. (This time, his friends come to him for help.) In terms of a concrete writing and publishing schedule, not yet, I'm afraid - but I'm confident it will happen eventually.

Fred writes: INVISIBLE ARMIES describes [...] unethical drug trials on subjects selected for their previously man-made cancers. Did the author know that Pfizer, for allegedly doing similar trials in Nigeria, faces a $3B lawsuit? See report in Toronto Star, May 21, page A6.

Huh. That's fascinating. No, I didn't know about this story until today. Life imitating art. (Well, given that the actions in question happened in 1996, more like life imitating art unconsciously imitating life.)

Some anonymous coward writes: In 2003 you traveled to Egypt....any memorable experiences? Egypt is my dream vacation.

My night spent atop Mount Sinai was probably the most memorable - but the rest of the trip was pretty vivid too...

Some anonymous coward who doesn't believe in punctuation writes: what is the theme of the book

So glad you asked. Inasmuch as commercial fiction is allowed to have a Theme, Dark Places is about Tribe, Blood Price is about Home, and Invisible Armies is about A Better World. This may not be apparent to anyone but me, but it's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Linda writes: What does the site name 'Rezendi' mean?

'Rezendi' is the name of a gold mine in Zimbabwe that my grandfather once managed.

Dave and Shirley write: Have you thought about putting some maps in the next edition?

I'd love to, of coure, but my publishers are probably less enthusiastic about shelling out for such.

Moe writes: What inspired you to write Dark Places?

I went on a truck trip across Africa in 1998 - as the protagonist does in the book - and one of the running jokes among my group was how easy it would be for one of us to bump another off, then disappear across a border, beyond the reach of any law. It was funny; it was also the first seed of the plot.

Max writes: isn't the capital of Lombok Mataram, rather than Mataran?

Oops.

and also: I'm assuming from your similar pasts and similar jobs, that the character of Balthazar (Paul) Wood is based on yourself. In what ways are he and you different?

The main differences are: he's much, much angstier; he doesn't write; and unlike him, I come from a close family.

Leoni and Timm and Torsten all write: When will "Blood Price" be published in Germany?
DTV should be translating and publishing BLOOD PRICE in Germany sometime in 2006 - I'll provide specific details here when I have them.

Jeff writes: Dark Places seems like it would be a natural for a film - have you thought about it?
Oh, yes, of course. It attracted some attention among Hollywood studios, and an option deal with Gold Circle Films lapsed after a complicated series of events - typical of the industry. The main stumbling block is that filming on location is very, very expensive.

Walter writes: Is TRAIL OF THE DEAD available as AUDIO BOOK or CD?
No, or at least not yet - but BLOOD PRICE is available as an audiobook: you can order CDs or tapes from amazon.co.uk, or download it from audible.com.

Carole writes: Did you actually go to Nepal? You described it so well...
Yep. Trekked the Annapurna Circuit in autumn 2000. I adored Nepal, I'd go back at the drop of a hat.

Cathy, an amiga I travelled with in Peru, writes: No tale inspired by Octavio? =) (our guide in the Peruvian jungle)
I'd love to - but no one would believe he could possibly exist!

Jane writes: Quick question, how did you come up with [elided for spoilers: let's call it The Twist At The End Of Part IV of DARK PLACES]. I hope this was not based on life imitating art?
It started out as black humour in an addled late-night conversation, like so many of my ideas.

Miles writes: Was the character Laura an inspiration from a real-life girlfriend? And was Morgan also created from a past acquaintance?
Laura was almost entirely a creation of my imagination (although her sense of humour was borrowed from an ex-girlfriend). Morgan, however, was loosely based on an Aussie guy I travelled with for a few days in Morocco - who was actually extremely nice and helpful, but who stuck in my mind as a larger-than-life character. I probably owe him an apology.

Nicola writes: My next trip planned is to Peru to trek the Inca Trail and to finally (after 31 years of life) experience the wonder of Macchu Picchu. If you have any tips then do let me know!
In fact I do. I'm not sure if the tips within are actually helpful, but my tongue-and-coca-leaf-in-cheek report on Macchu Picchu can be found here.

Kinkazzo writes: What, you haven't been to Italy???? In all your travels, no Italy? You mean you haven't been to this Navel of the Arts?
I know. I'm horribly embarrassed, but it's true. One day, one day soon...

The Bull writes: You think you're pretty smart, don't you? Ha ha ha ha ha. Ha. Ha. HAAAAAAAAH. Keep your reinforced sunglasses on, I would. Just in case.
Um...

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