FREE @ Amazon on Saturday, July 9, 2016
Interview with Author John Pearce:
John, which of your characters is most interesting to you?
That’s a really good question, and a tough one. My own views aside, because by now they all feel like members of the family, Jen — the sort-of-bad girl — was the most commented-on character in Treasure of Saint-Lazare.
This time things seem to have changed. Eddie is the one most early readers like. He’s an interesting guy — full of contradictions, slow to anger but unremitting once his decision is made. He’s confident but at the same time has an abundance of self-doubt.
He was, after all, a Special Forces company commander in Kuwait, and much of the plot of my first two books stems from one brief, brutal incident during that time.
I wanted to create a character who should have everything he could ever want, but whose perfect life is derailed by something over which he has no control, in this case something that was part of his father’s military service sixty years before plus the incident in Kuwait.
He’s rich, but his fortune really doesn’t matter much. He’s loved by the perfect woman, but can’t handle it and spurns her (don’t panic; they rectify that). He falls into bed with the wrong woman, who turns out to be totally unlike his first image of her, or so he thinks. In other words, he’s like most of us — screwed up, incomplete, unhappy at least some of the time.
How did you get the original idea for the series?
A lot of my ideas come during my daily four-mile walks. The “what if” idea for this one came that way one day, and then I went looking to see if there were a historical hook I could use. That’s when I found Italian Renaissance painter Raphael’s well-known self-portrait, which has been missing since 1945.
Then I found a bunch of interesting characters and put them into difficult positions to see how they worked themselves out.
Are they based on real people?
I picked up a couple of names from people I know, but otherwise every character in it is totally fictional, or such a broad combination of attributes that they are anonymous. That excludes a few historical public figures, of course. Nobody could create a character worse than Hans Frank, the butcher of Poland who got his start in German politics as Hitler’s personal lawyer. Even his own son thought he was scum — enough so to write a book about it.
How do you go about researching and writing?
Jan and I spend a couple of months in Paris each year, and that’s when I do the detailed research on scene locations. I make a lot of notes and take a lot of pictures. On this year’s trip we also went to Frankfurt for a short visit to make certain I hadn’t mangled anything too much — the manuscript was done but not beyond correction.
We lived in Frankfurt when we were journalists a long time ago. It’s changed a lot, but the old railroad station is in the same place, and nothing much has changed about Sachsenhausen, where Jeremy takes a long walk on his way to meet the old retired Stasi agent who provides the key that unlocks one very important part of the plot.
I take a lot of pictures. I dictate a lot of notes to my pocket recorder, which Dragon translates into something like English. Those go into Evernote, there to rest until I need them.
The writing itself is done in Scrivener on my MacBook Pro. In Paris, I write in the lovely old Mazarin Library, which is part of the French Institute, right across the street from the Louvre by way of the bridge that used to have uncounted thousands of love locks on its railings. The city took them off out of concern their weight would do permanent damage.
I print the manuscript (many times; the whole thing is still on a shelf above my desk at home, and it’s a stack of paper two feet high). I edit in longhand, and then when I can’t do any more I send it off to my editor, Jen Blood, in Maine. She works it over thoroughly — three times. Then it’s done.
Best of all: it is free as ebook on July 9, 2016!