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Meet the WritersImage of John Sandford
John Sandford
John Camp (better known to readers as thrillmeister John Sandford) began his career as a journalist -- first as a crime reporter for The Miami Herald, then as a general reporter, columnist, and features writer for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press & Dispatch. In 1986, he won the Pulitzer Prize for "Life on the Land: An American Farm Family," a five-part series examining the farm crisis in southwest Minnesota.

Camp's interests turned to fiction in the mid-1980s, and he took time off to write two novels which were ultimately accepted for publication: The Fool's Run, a techno-thriller featuring a complex con man known as Kidd, and Rules of Prey, a police procedural starring maverick Minneapolis detective Lucas Davenport. When both books were scheduled (by different publishers) to be released three months apart in 1989, Camp was persuaded to adopt a pseudonym for one. He chose his paternal grandmother's maiden name, "Sandford" for Rules of Prey, and the nom de plume has remained attached to all the books in the series.

Less Dick Tracy than Dirty Harry, hard-boiled, iconoclastic Lucas Davenport is a composite of the cops Camp met while working the crime beat as a reporter. Intelligent and street smart, Davenport is also manipulative and not above bending the rules to get results. And although he has mellowed over time (something of a skirt chaser in his youth, he is now married with children), he remains one of the edgiest and most popular protagonists in detective fiction. Fans keep returning to the Prey books for their intelligently hatched plots, high-octane pacing, and deft, fully human characterizations.

From time to time, Camp strays from his bestselling series for standalone thrillers (The Night Crew, Dead Watch), and in 2007 he introduced a new series hero, Virgil Flowers of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, who debuted in Dark of the Moon. Although he is no longer a full-time journalist, Camp contributes occasional articles and book reviews to various publications. He is also a passionate archaeologist and has worked at a number of digs, mainly in Israel.

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Good to Know
Don't confuse John Sandford with John Sanford -- it's one of Sandford's pet peeves. Sanford (without the "d") is a Christian philosophy writer.

The Sandford pseudonym has caused a few problems for Camp in the past. At an airport once, his ticket was reserved under Sandford, while all of his identification, of course, had the name Camp. Luckily, he had one of his novels with him, and thanks to the book jacket photo, he was able to convince airport security to let him on the plane.

The books in Camp's less successful Kidd series (The Fool's Run, The Empress File, The Devil's Code, and The Hanged Man's Song) have been re-released under the Sandford pseudonym.

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In the summer of 2004, we asked authors featured in Meet the Writers to give us a list of their all-time favorite summer reads, and tell us what makes them just right for the season. Here's what John Sandford had to say:

I read thrillers all the time -- I love them, but it's also part of my business, so I do not include them on my summer reading list. Summer reading to me has always meant a book I might not otherwise look at, and that I wound up enjoying enormously. These are listed in no particular order.

  • Post Captain by Patrick O'Brian -- Not the first of the Aubrey-Maturin series, but the first I read, and one of the best realized.

  • The Once and Future King by T. H. White -- A classic re-telling of the Authur legend, and one of the great romances of all time.

  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas -- One of the best revenge stories ever told, and a terrific swashbuckler.

  • The Iliad by Homer (Trans. by Robert Fagles) -- Want to know about battle? This is the place, and this is my favorite translation. I wish I knew how Fagles pronounced his name.

  • Son of the Morning Star by Evan S. Connell -- George Custer bites the dust, but takes his time doing it. If you read it, you'll know why it's on this list.

  • The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth -- Certainly better than any non-fiction history.

  • Hell's Angels by Hunter S. Thompson -- Either that, or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Funny little nightmares for my generation.

  • Heart of Darkness -- Joseph Conrad. Best opening two pages in English literature. I suspect Hemingway stole from it.

  • 1984 by George Orwell -- Also Homage to Catalonia and Animal Farm. Read all three; together, they're not much longer than one. This is where my personal politics come from.

  • The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara -- The best re-telling of the Gettysburg story.

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  • About the Writer
    *John Sandford Home
    * Biography
    * Good to Know
    * Interview
    In Our Other Stores
    * Signed, First Editions by John Sandford
    *The Eye and the Heart: Watercolors by John Stuart Ingle (as John Camp), 1988
    *Plastic Surgery: The Kindest Cut (as John Camp), 1989
    *The Fool's Run (as John Camp), 1989
    *Rules of Prey, 1989
    *Shadow Prey, 1990
    *Eyes of Prey, 1991
    *The Empress File, 1991
    *Silent Prey, 1992
    *Winter Prey, 1993
    *Night Prey, 1995
    *Mind Prey, 1995
    *Sudden Prey, 1996
    *The Night Crew, 1997
    *Secret Prey, 1998
    *Certain Prey, 1999
    *Easy Prey, 2000
    *The Devil's Code, 2000
    *Chosen Prey, 2001
    *Mortal Prey, 2002
    *Naked Prey, 2003
    *The Hanged Man's Song, 2003
    *Hidden Prey, 2004
    *Broken Prey, 2005
    *Dead Watch, 2006
    *Invisible Prey, 2007
    *Dark of the Moon, 2007