Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Adventures of a Texas Ranger

posted by Nancy
I discovered bestselling author Jon Land's thrillers because K.J. Howe recommended them, so I owe her for a lot of reading pleasure. The first one I read, A Walk in the Darkness, featured a Palestinian policeman Ben Kamal and Israeli security agent Danielle Barnea, not exactly the couple everyone would predict. And they have issues aplenty, of course. I loved the book and started looking for more.

A short time later, I was walking through a bookstore and spotted Strong Enough to Die, the first in Jon's series about Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong and her extremely unlikely and unofficial partner. The book sucked me in like the proverbial black hole. I couldn't wait for the next one. Or the next.

Jon makes his Lair debut today with the latest installment of Caitlin's adventures, Strong At the Break. He has published thirty novels, with the second Caitlin Strong adventure, Strong Justice, named Library Journal's top thriller for 2010. His first nonfiction book, Betrayal, will be published by Forge Books in January. It's about decorated FBI agent Bob Fitzpatrick and his struggle against overwhelming odds to nail gangster Whitey Bulger. Welcome, Jon!

I love writing Caitlin Strong—let’s get that out of the way right from the start. In my thirty years of writing novels, there’s never been a character who’s come more to life for me. But how did she come to life in the first place?

Actually, Caitlin’s origins go back to a conversation my editor Natalia Aponte had with one of the heads of sales at Tor/Forge, my publisher. They were discussing the state of the genre and bemoaning the fact that with all the thrillers out there, bought predominantly by women, there wasn’t a single female thriller series hero. Not one. Sure, there were lots of women heroes driving less action-oriented mysteries, but nothing akin to what I like to call a female Jack Reacher after Lee Child’s seminal creation.

Well, after Natalia relayed this conversation to me, a light bulb went off in my head. I was looking for a new theme and potential series hero, something dramatically different than the Michael Tiranno “Tyrant” character I was coming off of in The Seven Sins. That was truly an over-the-top-book, as many great thrillers are, and the last thing I wanted to do was another just like it. I wanted instead to work with a character who was more conflicted, flawed, down-to-earth.

I’d always wanted to write about the Texas Rangers, having long been fascinated by their well-earned reputation for being badass lawmen and gunfighters. So the light bulb that went off shined squarely down on the notion of featuring a female Texas Ranger in the first of what I already envisioned as a series.

Making Caitlin a Texas Ranger, and a fifth generation one to boot, provided instant credibility for her character as an action hero. She’s got a past she’s not too proud of and the first book in the series, STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE, opens with her sorely searching for some form of redemption she finds by going up against an evil military-industrial company called MacArthur-Rain for reasons more personal than professional.

As always, I knew very little of this when I got started. Things just started falling together and if you asked me where it all came from, I honestly couldn’t say. But I knew I had something here that I’d never experienced before and STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE left plenty of room for Caitlin and Cort Wesley Masters, a man she wrongly put in prison and ultimately falls in love with, to grow and develop as does the second book in the series, STRONG JUSTICE.

I think I actually have the most fun with Caitlin’s relationship with Cort Wesley and his two sons for whom she becomes a kind of surrogate mother. The thing I love about their relationship is that it’s defined by conflict. The romance is there, yes, but so is the tension. It’s never easy for them. Take the following excerpt from the just published STRONG AT THE BREAK, for example. Caitlin and Cort Wesley are headed to Mexico, where he’s wanted for murder, on the trail of his runaway 16-year-old son Dylan.

“You call the cops?” Caitlin asked him.

Cort Wesley looked like he couldn’t believe she’d even posed the question. “I called you.”

“What about Dylan?”

“His phone’s going straight to voicemail. Turned off so you can’t locate him by GPS.”

“What kind of head start he got?”

Cort Wesley checked his watch. “An hour now. Bit more maybe.”

“Guess we both know where he’s headed.”

“You casting blame on me in that statement?”

“Why, ‘cause you never took him down there to see Maria Lopez like you promised?”

A year before, Dylan had saved the life of a runaway Mexican girl named Maria Lopez who’d been part of a kidnapped group of girls being ferried to a worksite outside San Antonio. Problem was the man he’d saved her from turned out to be behind four hundred serial murders of women across the Texas-Mexico border, embroiling both the Texas Rangers and Cort Wesley Masters in a battle with drug cartels and a renegade Mexican colonel. The embroilment ended with a host of bodies being downed and Dylan emerging with a chip on his shoulder he dared the world to knock off.

Facing down one of the deadliest men ever born, as close as to the spawn of Satan the world would ever see, had imbued the boy with a bravado and hardness that had come to define too many of his actions and thinking. That attitude had made school an afterthought and had led inevitably, Caitlin knew, to his actions of today.

“I’ve been busy too, in case you haven’t noticed,” Cort Wesley told her.

“South of the border, right?”

“Why you looking at me that way?”

“What way is that?”

“You got something to say, just say it.”

“I think you should have stayed clear of Mexico,” Caitlin said, the words feeling like ground glass in her mouth. “You’re not exactly popular with the federal├ęs, one Major Batista in particular.”

“You ever know something like that to stop me?”

“No, that might actually take some honest thought.”

Cort Wesley stopped looking at the road ahead of them and turned to glare at her. “You know what takes some thought? Figuring out how many Americans still got legitimate business south of the border they’re too scared to conduct given the danger involved.”

“So they pay you to make them feel safe.”

“Where’s this headed, Ranger?”

“You kill anybody in Mexico?”

Caitlin watched him freeze up, his features locking as his chest stopped its quick motions in rhythm with his nervous breathing. She drew the folded-up piece of paper from the pocket of her jeans.

“You’re wanted for murder down there, Cort Wesley. And I’m supposed to bring you in.”

There it is, all the ingredients that define their relationship or, should I say, their struggles to build that relationship. Relationships, and emotion in general, form the basis of virtually every great story ever told. I have very high aspirations for my Caitlin Strong books and the primary thing that distinguishes this series from others is that the characters continue to change and evolve. And so do their relationships. While the three Strong books can be read in any order, reading them in sequence definitely adds to the enjoyment since you can follow the development of these complex relationships, especially the romance between Caitlin and Cort Wesley, from the beginning. You can see the dichotomy that is Caitlin who finds herself pulled toward the familial life offered by Cort Wesley and his sons and life on her own in the classic mold of a Texas Ranger or old-time gunfighter.

You see what I’m getting at? The Strong books have as much emotional or romantic suspense as they have tension derived by Caitlin’s pursuit of villains before they can do terrible harm to the country. My plots are always big, the stakes very high, and in the Strong books I’ve made the emotional stakes just as high to make sure you’ll always care about the characters. I guess that’s why I keep writing them and you can look forward to Caitlin’s fourth adventure, STRONG VENGEANCE, next June for more of the same.

For more about Jon Land's books, check out his website.

Jon is giving signed copies of STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE to three commenters today. The prize post will go up at 11:45 tonight.

So post a question for Jon about the book, the Texas Rangers, or his writing, or tell us about a couple in a book or a movie you enjoyed who started out as fierce antagonists and ended up together and why you liked it. Or tell us about your favorite book or movie featuring a law enforcement officer or a criminal (reformed, unreformed, or somewhere in between) in the lead and what you enjoyed about it. Or tell us about your favorite book or movie that has lots of things going boom.

(To keep the FCC happy, I'm letting you all know I received a free copy of Strong Enough to Die after I asked Jon to be a guest).


Fedora said...

Ooh, welcome to the Lair, Jon--your books sound intriguing. I do enjoy fierce protagonists--it makes the reading exciting :)

Nancy said...

Fedora, congrats on the rooster! I hope you keep him very, very busy.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Fedora, you got the chook! Now that's a conflicted character if I ever met one!

Jon, welcome to the lair. We love having blokes here (the cabana boys are inclined to sulk but they'll get over it!). I love the sound of Caitlin Strong. Clearly a STRONG heroine, even her name is strong. And Nancy and I tend to have similar tastes so I'll definitely try your books. Actually I'm thinking about the enemies into lovers trope right now. Just read a book called CAPTIVE by Christina Phillips about a Roman soldier and a Druid priestess. Pretty much classic enemies into lovers. I love how the stakes are so high in those stories and the love really has to be strong to surmount the barriers dividing the couple.

Nancy said...

Anna, the Roman soldier and Druid priestess probably had a lot to argue about!

Has Joan read that book?

The stakes are huge in Strong at the Break, and Cort Wesley's son Dylan finds himself in way over his head. Lots of angst and conflict and, yes, boom along the way. :-)

Nancy said...

Jon, one of the things I've enjoyed about these books is the way you've worked in the history of the Texas Rangers. How did you become interested in them?

Mary Preston said...

My favorite book of all time, LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry, features 2 Texas Rangers. Jon Land you are new to me, but I will be seeking you out.

Christina Brooke said...

Hi Jon, a warm welcome to the lair. Thanks Nancy for bringing Jon to us today.

I love the idea of a female protagonist in a mainstream thriller--that excerpt was a fantastic set up of conflict! I particularly like that your charcters' relationships grow and change over the series. Too often action characters are two dimensional and static and all the books start to feel the same after a while. I imagine it makes it more of a challenge for you to write, too.

What's your process like? Do you plot or do you see where the story takes you as you write?

Helen said...

Well done Fedora have fun with him

Whoo Hoo Jon this series sounds fantastic thanks Nancy for inviting Jon along to meet us today.

I have always ejoyed stories and movies about the Texas Rangers although I have to be honest most of them have been in the wild west so something set in these modern time would be very interesting for me.

I do enjoy the sound of the conflict with the romance always makes for a good story I think. Do you write love scenes in your stories and if you do, do you find them easy to write.

Have Fun

Anna Sugden said...

Oooh what a great guest, Nancy. Thanks so much for bringing Jon to the Lair. Caitlin sounds like my kind of character - will be checking out the series asap. Actually, love the sound of the other book too ... there goes the TBR mountain! Luckily a lot of it is hidden on my iPad these days *g*.

Suz Brockmann does a great job with such characters. Similarly, Karen Rose, Tess Gerritsen and Lisa Gardner. On a lighter note, the latest SEP does a great job with characters who are pretty strong antagonists.

My favourite TV series at the moment is Leverage - kind of a modern day Robin Hood series. Our own Beth Andrews got me hooked on that one.

For strong characters, I loved Saving Grace (though only the first two series) - Grace was masterfully written. Bordering on unacceptable, yet softened at the right moments. I also really like The Closer.

One of the best villains I've seen was on the late, lamented TV series, Shark. Wayne Robert Callison, played by Billy Campbell, was phenomenal. He'd never be a hero, but he was one you just loved to hate!

KJ Howe said...

Nancy, thanks so much for inviting Jon to the lair. He's a talented author, a fabulous speaker, and one of the warmest people I've met.

Jon, welcome! It was great to see you again at ThrillerFest. As Nancy mentioned, I'm a huge fan of your work. Given your background in screenwriting, I was curious if you "see" your story unfolding in a movie (in your head). Also, who would you cast as Caitlin in an actual movie?

Jon did a great interview of Robert Crais at ThrillerFest, and I found it fascinating when Crais shared that he had no idea what his iconic characters, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, looked like. Crais explained that he wanted the reader to make the characters his/her own. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that comment. As writers, do you think we do a disservice to the reader by describing our characters in too much detail?

Thanks so much for joining us here today!

Nancy said...

Marybelle, what do you like about Lonesome Dove? What drew you to it?

Nancy said...

Christina, I agree with you about character change in series. As you know, I've been seeking out suspense series that feature couples, and one of the things I'm looking for is evolving relationships.

While I don't expect that part of the story to be developed to the extent it would be in a book that says "romance" on the spine, I also don't like to be scratching my head at the end, uncertain just what drew this couple together, exactly.

What drew me to this series was that Caitlin and Cort Wesley were such strong antagonists but did actually start to see each other in different ways--and that we readers were in on that process.

Nancy said...

Helen, most of the movies and TV shows I've seen about the Texas Rangers also were historical. I'm particularly fond of the one involving a masked man and his Native American friend, a white horse, and silver bullets. And the William Tell overture. *g*

There was a period when Texas Rangers were very popular heroes in contemporary romance. I haven't seen them so much lately, though.

Nancy said...

Anna S. wrote: [T]here goes the TBR mountain! Luckily a lot of it is hidden on my iPad these days *g*

Isn't that handy? I've been working on whittling down the TBR pile, and the fact that much of it is now electronic gives me the illustion of actual success.

I've tried to watch Leverage, but I have trouble remembering what times things are on anymore. I've always liked Timothy Hutton, ever since he was the son who survived in that movie with Mary Tyler Moore (obviously the title escapes me).

Billy Campbell is a fabulous villain. He was great as The Rocketeer and as Sela Ward's love interest in a short-lived TV show (again, the title eludes) but chilling as the abusive husband in Enough.

Nancy said...

KJ, thanks back at you for recommending Jon's work to me and helping me get in touch with him.

I'm interested to see how Jon responds to your question about character description. As you know, we frequently have discussions about using movie or TV stars as models for our characters. That's never worked for me, but I like hearing how other people approach it.

Anna Sugden said...

Ahhh *happy sigh* Robert Crais! What a charmer!

I've heard him say that too, KJ, and he uses that as the reason why he doesn't want his books brought to the big (or little) screen.

I think it's a tough thing to do - look at all the fuss about Stephanie Plum. I can only imagine what would happen with Roarke and Eve Dallas!

Joan said...

Welcome to The Lair Jon!

Strong at the Break already comes across as a sit on the edge of your seat story.

As a romance fiction author, I sometimes struggle with teh male POV. How did you handle Caitlin's female POV? What experiences in the female perspective did you rely on?

jo robertson said...

Hi, Jon! Welcome to the Lair and thanks to Nancy for hosting you.

Your STRONG series sounds exciting. I like the concept of how these two protagonists came together, and I'll definitely start with the first in the series.

I'm also intrigued with A WALK IN THE DARKNESS. I love the conflict you've built into that story with the Palestinian and Israeli characters.

Can you tell us something about your writing process and writing schedule?

petite said...

Welcome Jon. Your books are wonderful, memorable and unique. I have enjoyed this new series greatly. Your writing is exceptional. I am curious how you became interested in writing about Texas Rangers and the research necessary for this series.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Jon! Welcome to the lair!

Loved your excerpt. One can feel the tense conflict between these two characters, yet still see the potential for romance ("I called you.")

My first thought after reading the blog was that this sounded like it had great big/little screen potential, so I'm not surprised that KJ mentioned you had a background in screenwriting. What are your hopes for this series?

Think you have a winner here! Good Luck!

traveler said...

Thanks for this interesting feature today. I am enthralled with these books and this amazing writer who can create the novels mentioned. I did read Jon Land's previous series about the Israeli policeman and the Arab detective. Fabulous. This is quite a transition. Please elaborate about the Texas connection and the Israeli ideas.

Becke Davis said...

Great blog! I loved the excerpt - I'll definitely check out Jon's books!

Jon Land said...

Let me address Joan's question first about writing from a female viewpoint. It comes surprisingly easy for me and I think that's due to the fact that I'm blessed with the ability to get inside a character's head and write entirely from their viewpoint. I see what they see, feel what they feel, instead of imposing words and thoughts on them. Hey, I've written about serial killers, terrorists, Palestinians, and Special Ops commandos and I'm not one of them either! I'm just so gratified that you and so many others have responded to Caitlin as you have. She really resonates with women as well as men.

Jon Land said...

Thanks, Becke, and you won't be disappointed. I promise!

Jon Land said...

I'm ever so grateful for the warm welcome you Lair regulars have given me. Hope Nancy invites me back not too far down the road! Anyway, several of you have commented on the "western" nature of the Strong books and you couldn't be more right. Essentially, these books are modern day westerns a la NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, and Caitlin is a modern day, or post-modern, gunfighter. The Western form has been crucial to the development of the thriller as best personified by Lee Child's brilliant Jack Reacher character. I like to think of Caitlin as kind of a female Reacher. I love writing her and all the characters in this series.

Jon Land said...

Traveler asks that I "elaborate about the Texas connection and the Israeli ideas." You know, I think these two series have more in common than people realize. They're both about characters struggling to find their place in the world and with each other--Ben and Danielle become Caitlin and Cort Wesley. And both relationships are driven by conflict. I think the conflict in the Strong books is more personal while in the Ben and Danielle books it's more societal. Also regular readers will likely notice that Caitlin and Cort Wesley spend more of their adventures side by side than Ben and Danielle did, most due to the fact that the Strong books are not internationally-based like the Ben and Danielle titles.

Jon Land said...

Donna raises a great question about m hopes for this series. I've actually penned a screenplay based on the first book in the series, Strong Enough to Die, for a director named Carl Franklin who's terrific. I actually think the best home for Caitlin on screen would be television, similar to what FX did with JUSTIFIED. I'd love to have a dozen one-hour episodes to really tell the story and delve deeply into the characters. Interesting these days how the best writing is clearly on television, not film anymore. Dexter, Game of Thrones, Damages, The Good Wife, Weeds, Mad Men, Breaking Bad--the list goes on.

Jon Land said...

Petite, thanks for the kind words. The bulk of my research into the Texas Rangers was all about familiarizing myself with their history. I wanted to make Caitlin a kind of throwback to another age so I needed to be able to capture the way Rangers used to be as well as are today. Let's face it, very few Rangers ever even draw their guns these days in contrast to the body count Caitlin rings up every book. But this is a thriller, a work of fiction, that takes the heroic nature and colorful history of the Rangers and personifies them in the person of a single individual. Interesting to me how so many people love the little snippets of Ranger history I provide before it's section.

Jon Land said...

Jo Robertson asked about my writing process and schedule. I normally write in two sessions per day, each around 2 hours long--that amounts to about 15-20 pages and when I'm doing a first draft I work 7 days a week to keep the flow going. A couple of tricks I use: I always leave off in the middle of a scene so I get a running start the next day and I always save a few books by my own favorite authors to read when I'm writing. I start each writing session by reading maybe 15 pages to get my head where it needs to be, get the mindset in other words.

Jon Land said...

Marybelle, the Strong books are a lot different from Lonesome Dove but I think you'll love them. Nobody writes about the old West better than McMurtry.

Jon Land said...

In response to Nancy, the Texas Rangers are the most legendary lawmen (and now law-women) in our nation's history. I've always been a fan of Westerns in general and the Rangers remain today a wondrous force that continues to help maintain order throughout the massive state of Texas. Their motto is "One Riot, One Ranger." And that says it all.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Welcome to the Lair, Jon!

BIG THANX to Nancy for inviting you to join us today. That excerpt pulled me right in, and I'm sure I'll enjoy your series.

My goodness, I hadn't seen or read anything with a Texas Ranger (with or without The William Tell Overture);-) in ages. Then last week I rented and watched the new version of True Grit with Matt Damon as the Texas Ranger. Yup, LOVED IT!

So are you from Texas, Jon? Is that what started your interest in the Rangers?

who is off to discipline the cabana boys for SULKING in the corners -- a tough job, but someone has to do it!

Jon Land said...

KJ asks "Do you think we do a disservice to the reader by describing our characters in too much detail?" Well, that's a great question! My model for the Strong books is the great James Lee Burke who writes the Dave Robicheaux novels. Burke is a master of description and he knows exactly how much to describe and how much to leave to the reader's imagination--the perfect median, in other words. For me it comes down to the great advice I got once, to in every scene always know where the light is coming from. All I due is describe to the reader, through a character's eyes, what that light is revealing.

Jon Land said...

No, Aunty Cindy, I'm from Rhode Island--the exact opposite of Texas (There was actually a ranch once as big as my state!). But I've visited Texas a bunch of times and rely on my travels through the state, especially the San Antonio area, for the color I try to provide.

Lolarific said...

Wow these sound like they're right up my mother in laws reading alley! I'll have to tell her about them!

Jon Land said...

Sorry, everyone, for leaving my comments down at the bottom in a block. I just realized how to respond to them individually so they follow the original query. My bad. At least I've learned for next time!

Nancy said...

Hi, Petite--Isn't this a fabulous series? I like the fact that there's plenty of action-oriented boom but also plenty of person conflict.

Nancy said...

Anna wrote: [L]ook at all the fuss about Stephanie Plum. I can only imagine what would happen with Roarke and Eve Dallas!

The mind boggles. Remember when Jeanne and I blogged about that and got sooo many suggestions?

Nancy said...

Joan, all the Caitlin Strong books are edge-of-the-seat, thrillers for sure.

Nancy said...

Jo, the way Caitlin and Cort Wesley actually came together is also an edge-of-the-seat thing. I think you'll like it.

Nancy said...

Petite, another person who's already a Caitlin Strong fan! Glad you could drop by today.

Nancy said...

Donna wrote:Loved your excerpt. One can feel the tense conflict between these two characters, yet still see the potential for romance ("I called you.")

I love that line, too!

Nancy said...

Traveler, when I saw that series about a Palestinian cop and an Israeli agent, it just screamed "conflict." It lived up to expectations, didn't it?

Nancy said...

Becke, glad you could stop in today!

Nancy said...

Jon, that's an interesting point about Caitlin and Cort Wesley spending more time working together than Ben and Danielle due to the different natures of their problems. I hadn't thought about it quite like that.

Nancy said...

Jon, I love JUSTIFIED. I wish it were coming back before next winter. It's a bit violent for me (violence being more graphic on TV than on the printed page), but I'm watching it anyway.

I also like seeing a TV show do Southern accents and NOT make me want to fling something at the TV.

Nancy said...

Oops--forgot to add that I would love to see Caitlin Strong on TV in the format Jon describes.

Nancy said...

Lolarific, we're always glad to someone else's TBR pile!

Nancy said...

Jon, we usually end up with comments at the bottom in block. Nesting the replies is not something we're used to, so you're fine.

Cassondra said...

Fedora, Woohooo on the rooster! Hope it's not as hot there as it is here--if it is, he'll go straight for the beer. ;0/

Cassondra said...

Jon, a huge welcome to the Bandit lair.

I love the concept of the female Texas Ranger. And love the complexities which I'm sure come out of her being fifth generation LEO. That right there is plenty on its own, without her falling for somebody she's wronged, and the guilt on top of that.

Okay as a writer, I'm tired just thinking about all that.

As a reader, I'm intrigued, so kudos to you, and thank you for taking on such a flawed and wonderfully human character.

I'd love to know something about your direct research with the Texas Rangers. They're legendary of course, and from what I understand, it's for good reason. I read the comment where you spoke of researching their history. But did you get to spend time with the actual Rangers? Ride-alongs, visits and interviews, etc?

Clearly,you've researched and written other kinds of law enforcement/agents/etc. What did you find different about the Rangers in attitude, and what has intrigued you most about them, history or present day?

jo robertson said...

Thanks, Jon, for sharing your writing process with us.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Nancy, hey Jon! great interview!

Jon, welcome to the Lair. It's a strange world, but they know us here so....

Fedora, congrats on catching the early rooster. :>

I'm fascinated with the Texas Rangers, and am looking forward to diving into these books. Like Anna C, I share similar reading tastes with Nancy, so I know I'll like them a lot.

I'm headin' back into the lower levels of the Lair, to the writing Caves, but again, Welcome!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Jon said: Their motto is "One Riot, One Ranger." And that says it all.

I just love this. And it does, indeed, say it all.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Nancy said: I also like seeing a TV show do Southern accents and NOT make me want to fling something at the TV.

Oh, yeahhhhhhh, JUSTIFIED. Timothy Oliphant.

And a huge, hanky-wavin' AMEN on the "doing Southern accents" bit.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Forgot to say that on strong dislike-to-love relationships, the two I've enjoyed most are the characters in the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and the antagonistic to attraction relationship between Ziva and Tony on NCIS. :>


Nancy said...

Cassondra, Caitlin's heritages as a Ranger figures prominently in the books so far. I like that about them.

Nancy said...

Jeanne--are Tony and Ziva an item now? Clearly I'm behind!

I like that phrase, "One Riot, One Ranger" a lot, too.

Watching stuff blow up in Mr. and Mrs. Smith was a lot of fun. I thought the ending kind of tailed off, though. Did you?

Good luck in the cave.

Caren Crane said...

Fedora, congrats on the GR!

Jon, I loved 'The Thomas Crown Affair' and the evolution of the relationship as Thomas and Catherine get to know each other and respect each other's attributes.

I'm excited to learn about Caitlin's books. They sound like ones I would greatly enjoy. It's great to have you with us and I hope you'll visit again!

Jenn3128 said...

I'm late to the party, again! I loved this post, I loved all the comments & questions, everything.

Lisa Gardner is kinda my go to author for law enforcement stuff. However, Caitlin sounds amazing, so I'll be checking out Jon's books. I like to read them all in order, so I'll be starting with #1.

Nancy said...

Caren, do you know I've never seen The Thomas Crown Affair--either version! And I love Pierce Brosnan.

Nancy said...

Hi, Jenn--Late is never a problem around here. Glad you could make to by the Lair today.

Louisa Cornell said...

Fedora can handle the most notorious outlaw in the Lair - the GR! Or is that Aunty Cindy! I forget!

What a great interview, Jon and Nancy! I love a good thriller and the idea of a female Texas Ranger makes me rub my hands with glee! Texas women are some of the sweetest, classiest and toughest dames I know!

How hard is it to keep her strong enough to do what she has to do, but vulnerable enough to be convincing to women and appealing to men?

Jon Land said...

Cassondra: Thanks for the great comment and question. Yes, I did an incredible amount of research into the history of the Texas Rangers--hundreds of articles and a dozen or so books. And the research is ongoing from book to book. Alas, also confession time: Although I met a few Rangers, I never did ride alongs or the kind of fieldwork many other writers find crucial to their art. With Caitlin I'm trying to capture a certain sensibility and state of mind backed up by her formidable attitude, relentlessness, and keen shooting ability. The honest truth is that real Rangers don't operate with the lone wolf attitude Caitlin displays. The same holds true for the way spies and intelligence operatives are portrayed in other thrillers. A lot of people on this blog have mentioned Lisa Gardner, a terrific writer who brilliantly captures the inner workings of police investigations. Much of what I say about how the Rangers operate is totally accurate but, let's face it, no Ranger who's gunned down as many people as Caitlin has would still have a job. Then again, she's the only Ranger to face the kind of massive and evil adversaries that she does in my books. Look forward to hearing more from you after you've read one or more of her adventures. Be curious to hear if you think I pulled it all off! Best until then.

Jon Land said...

Great points all, Jeanne!

Jon Land said...

How hard is it to keep her strong enough to do what she has to do, but vulnerable enough to be convincing to women and appealing to men?--Great question from Louisa! While indeed hard, you have beautifully summed up the entire nature of her character. Dramatic tension, what keeps us turning the pages of any book and especially a thriller, is generated by conflict. And in the Strong books the central conflict is the push/pull in Caitlin you have so perfectly expressed. It's not me who has to find the balance of which you speak--it's Caitlin herself and here's the thing: she never will, not entirely. Since she'll never be entirely happy giving in to one side of her nature or the other, her future will always be about the push/pull. That said, I really enjoy writing Caitliln's growing relationship not just with Cort Wesley Masters, but also his sons. That adds even more conflict to her character since the boys bring out her maternal instincts. Make sure you let me know what you think after you've met Caitlin in the pages! Best until then.

Jon Land said...

Jenn: Lisa Gardner is a terrific writer and a great person as well. She's also a very good friend of mine!!!!!

Nancy said...

Louisa, I also love the idea of a female Texas Ranger. As you must've guessed, I love a good thriller, too.

Pissenlit said...

Congrats on your latest release, Jon! Your strong complicated female lead sounds very intriguing!

My favourite book with a couple who started out as fierce antagonists would have to be Pride & Prejudice. I quite enjoy watching how relationships change and grow. A lot of what I like reading/watching has a law enforcement officer or a reformed or quasi-reformed criminal in the lead so I can't quite pick just one. Boom? I like boom! :D

Nancy said...

Pissenlit, I'm one of those who has never read Pride and Prejudice. The other bandits have given me to understand that watching the movies does not count. But I do know enough to realize that's a great example of antagonists who end up as a couple.

Cassondra said...

Jon said:

Look forward to hearing more from you after you've read one or more of her adventures. Be curious to hear if you think I pulled it all off! Best until then.

Absolutely! I can't wait to read these!

And thank you so much for being our guest here in the lair today.

Nancy, wonderful blog today, and thank you for bring Jon on as a guest!