The Caitlin Strong Series with Author Jon Land

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Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of the 38 novels, including seven titles in the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series: Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance, Strong Rain Falling (winner of the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense) and Strong Darkness (winner of the 2014 USA Books Best Book Award and the 2015 International Book Award for Thriller). Caitlin Strong returns this October in Strong Light of Day, to be followed by Darkness Rising, his sci-fi collaboration with Heather Graham coming from Forge in June of 2016. Jon is a 1979 graduate of Brown University, lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be found on the Web at jonlandbooks.com or on Twitter @jondland.

 

 

 

 

Tell us about the decision to write a thriller with a female lead. 

Well, confession time here, starting this series was as much a marketing decision as a creative one. I owe the whole concept to the head of mass market sales for Tor/Forge Publishing going back about a decade. At a meeting where we were discussing trends in publishing, he raised the point that thrillers were the most popular genre and 70% of books were bought by women. Yet nobody at the table could name a single female thriller hero. Mystery, yes. But a female Jack Reacher? Uh-uh. So then and there I piped in with “What about a female Texas Ranger?” And in that moment Caitlin was born.

 

 

 

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What do you appreciate about the Texas Rangers?

So many things! First and foremost, they are the most famous and legendary lawmen in American history. The only frontier body out of the Old West to still be around today—and not just around, they’re still operating pretty much as they always have. They’re still gunfighters by reputation, even if they never have draw their weapon. They still command the same respect they always have and have built wondrously on the folklore of their forebears. All those great stories of the likes of Bill McDonald, Jack Hayes, Frank Hamer, Manuel “Lone Wolf” Gonzaulles, and so many more. You see so many male thriller heroes who are ex Special Forces, Navy SEALs, or something like that. Since women can’t service in active duty for special ops, making Caitlin Strong a Texas Ranger was the next best thing.

 

 

 

 

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Did you do any travel related research?

You can never do enough. I get to Texas twice a year and base scenes on where I visit. So you’ll see a lot of Midland in STRONG LIGHT OF DAY, a lot of Houston in STRONG COLD DEAD, and a ton of Austin in STRONG TO THE BONE which comes out December 5. I’m a whiz when it comes to Google searches and, another confession, I write about a ton of places in Texas that I’ve never been to.

 

 

Strong Cold Dead

 

 

 
What’s your process with research? Is there a method to the madness?



That’s a great question because it comes down to process. The method to my madness is not really having a method. I don’t outline and am very spontaneous in my writing, figuring if I don’t know what’s going to happen next, the reader can’t possibly know. So I don’t necessarily know what research I need to do before I start a book. I’ll actually do the bulk of it in the midst of the writing. If I need to know something as specific as the kind of tree you might find a body under in Laramie. Or what that tree smells like. Or what diner Caitlin might in when she visits this town or that. Attention to detail is crucial but the real trick is knowing how much not to say so the reader is left with the impression that I’ve been there, mostly because I don’t give them enough to figure out that I haven’t.

 

 

 

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How do you view Caitlin Strong among all the characters you’ve created over the years?

Easily the best and most fun I’ve ever written. I have so much faith in all of them, meaning I let them do the heavy lifting when it comes to figuring out the plot—or, better stated, my characters are also my collaborators. The reason I can take the risk of being so spontaneous, of literally not knowing exactly where I’m going or how I’m going to get there, is because I trust my character can sketch out the roadmap for me. They write their own dialogue, they make their own decisions, they make their own mistakes. Some of the best scenes I’ve written in this series, I can’t even tell you where they came from.

 

 

 

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What are the stakes and do they affect Caitlin personally?

As far as STRONG TO THE BONE goes, it’s the most personal of any book in the series because we learn for the first time that Caitlin was raped 18 years before when she was in college. The man was never caught. He just disappeared. And now he’s back, his DNA showing up in another victim of sexual assault. So Caitlin, all grown up and a Texas Ranger now, has a chance to slay her greatest dragon. Which brings us to the question of whether she really wants to, because she’s afraid catching him will strip her of the edge that defines who she is. As you can see, there are often aren’t easy answers in this series!

 

 

 

Strong to the Bone

 

 
Is it difficult writing a female lead?



Not really, because she’s so real to me, as are all of my characters. I’ve written serial killers and terrorists, when I’m not either of those. I’ve written Israelis, Palestinians, teenagers, along with blind, deaf and people suffering from other disabilities. And I’m none of those things either. Well, breaking news, you can add to that list the fat that I’m not a woman. Storytelling springs not from the conscious mind but from the imagination, where anything is possible. The key to being a great storyteller is to able to recapture the magic of role playing that children do. I think that’s why so many love books as a adults: because it makes them feel like kids again, the way I feel when I’m writing.

 

 

 

 

“Storytelling springs not from the conscious mind but from the imagination, where anything is possible.”–Jon Land

 

 

 
How have readers responded to her thus far?



Beyond anything I ever could have imagined. She doesn’t have the sales of the Jack Reacher books, but I honestly believe she compares very favorably to Lee Child’s iconic hero. The thing about those books, and the ones featuring Caitlin, is they’re both essentially modern day Westerns. The storytelling, at its heart, is very basic: Somebody good willing to do anything it takes to stop somebody bad from doing something really wrong. That’s the crucial element of this series and any great thriller, as well as why readers have responded to Caitlin as positively as they have: she isn’t just about solving crimes, she’s about preventing something much worse from happening. That’s what makes a true hero.

 

 

 

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Connect with Jon Land

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Amazon

 

 

 

 

Don’t miss Mystery Thriller Week 2018!

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

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Book Hoarders Bucket List Challenge

 

 

 

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ARE YOU A COMPULSIVE BOOK HOARDER?

IS YOUR TBR LIST TEN MILES LONG?

 

If you answered yes to either of these questions you may be suffering from CBH, compusive book hoardom. That’s when your ‘to be read’ list far exceeds the books you’ve actually read. Go ahead and admit it. Let’s say it together, ready? I’m a compulsive book hoarder. Good, again. I’m a compulsive book hoarder. Maybe you’re not a book hoarder and perhaps you just enjoy a challenge. Or you’d like to reduce the amount of books in your TBR pile. Well, we’ve got a challenge for you!

 

 

 

“When faced with a challenge, look for a way, not a way out.” -David L. Weatherford 

 

 

 

 

 

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A fellow blogger, book enthusiast, Sally Allen and I were discussing reducing our TBR piles and actually reading the books that we own. We came up with a great solution. A strategy. Challenge. Fun competition.

 

I have so many books lined up I could literally read for an entire year without buying or adding another title. To make it worse I keep adding MORE books to the insurmountable mountain that I’ve built. Yikes!!

Are you like this? Am I the only one? We need to systematically target all of the juicy books on our digital and actual bookshelves! We need to go in guns blazing and take out those books mocking you on the shelf. That’s right, no more Mr. nice guy. I’d like you to meet our new mascot.

 

Allow me to introduce….

HANK THE HITMAN

OF THE BOOK HOARDERS BUCKET LIST CHALLENGE

 

 

 

 

 

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RULES:

 

  • Choose the number of books you’d like to read per month
  • Pair up with one other person
  • Determine how many books you’ll add to your TBR list per month
  • Determine a mutually agreed upon prize for the winner.

 

 

Example:)

Group 1

Person A reads 16 books/month

Person B reads 8 books/month 

Persons A & B  cannot add more than 10% of books determined to be read. So Person A can only add 2 books to read to his TBR pile a month. That’s the threshold multiplied by the total of determined books to be read. Or 10% x (Books to read) = Allowable amount to add to TBR/month. Person A’s allowable amount would turn out to be 1.6/books to add per month.  0.1 x 16= 1.6 rounded up to 2. If the number is only below a .05% then you cannot round up.

Person B cannot add more than 10% of books determined to be read. So person B can only add 1 book per month to his TBR pile. The math would be 10% x 8= .80 or 1 book per month. We get 0.80 as the answer but you can’t add 0.8 of a book, so we round it up to 1. Make sense?

 

 

  • The more books you read, the more books you get to add to your TBR.
  • The less books you read, less books you get to add to your TBR.

 

 

Example:)

If you read 25 books/month = add 2.5 or 3 book/month

If you read 35 books/month = add 3.5 or 4 books/month

 

*It is recommended that you keep the threshold percentage low in order to reduce your ‘to be read’ pile and unread books.*

 

 

Rules:

 

  • If either party fails to read the determined amount of books loses.
  • If either party exceeds the maximum threshold is automatic failure.
  • If you are the losing party you must submit a mutually agreed upon and predetermined prize to the winner.
  • If both parties read all books and remain within the threshold then it is declared a tie, unless one party tallies more points.
  • If both parties fail to meet the mutually agreed upon requirements then no books are to be added to either TBR list for the next month.

 

 

 

Point System:

 

  • No points will be allotted for the total number of books read per month.
  • Points will be added if you complete the predetermined number of books to be read in one month.
  • Points will be added if you remain within the threshold percentage.
  • Points will be added for the percentage of reviews posted according to the predetermined amount of books in one month.

 

 

Points:

 

  • 100 points for reading all of the predetermined amount of books/month.
  • 50 points for remaining within the maximum percentage threshold/month.
  • 100 points if 100% of books are reviewed in one month.
  • 75 points if amount of books reviewed falls within 75%-99%  in one month.
  • 50 points if amount of books reviewed falls within 50%-74%  in one month.
  • 25 points if amount of books reviewed falls within 25%-49%  in one month.
  • 0 points if amount of books reviewed is less than 25% in one month.

 

 

 

Prizes:

 

  • It is suggested that prizes be rewarded among two persons at a time.
  • Prizes must be mutually agreed upon by both parties.
  • It is suggested that prizes be books or bookish in nature.
  • Prizes must be rewarded at the end of the month.
  • Prizes may be a reward to the winner with a book from the winners wish list.

 

 

 

 

 

HAVE QUESTIONS OR IDEAS?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in participating!  Also if you write about the challenge on your blog please leave a link in the comments. I would love to hear from you!

 

Thanks

 

PS

 

Don’t miss out on the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!!

Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com