Mystery/Suspense Large Print Edition * A New York Times Bestseller * A Literary Guild Main Selection * A Doubleday Book Club Main Selection Sidney Archer thought she had the perfect life: a loving husband, an adorable baby daughter, and a great career as a senior partner in a major Washington law firm. But when her husband is killed in a plane crash, her whole world begins to disintegrate. The FBI believes her husband is responsible for the bombing and that he may still be alive! Following on the heels of his sensational bestseller, Absolute Power, David Baldacci returns with an explosive tale of terror and deception, and one woman s courageous battle for the truth.
|Grand Central Publishing
|5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)
About the Author
Date of Birth:August 5, 1960
Place of Birth:Richmond, VIrginia
Education:B.A. in Political Science, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1982; J.D., University of Virginia, 1986
Table of ContentsBefore the live bn.com chat, David Baldacci agreed to answer some of our questions:
Q: What's one thing you've done that you are glad you did but happier that you will never have to do again?
A: Taken and passed the Virginia Bar Exam.
Q: How do you indulge your appetite? Caviar? Burgers and fries?
A: Pasta. I am definitely not a caviar person.
Q: Are you a righty or lefty?
Q: What's your favorite cartoon?
A: "The Tick."
Q: Do you have a favorite day of the year?
A: The day after I've finished a novel.
Q: Will you identify a specific historic event or image that has been especially defining of American culture?
A: Lincoln's assassination. Reconstruction, Jim Crowism, segregation, and discrimination were all, unfortunately, enhanced with his murder.
On Friday, April 4th, barnesandnoble.com on AOL welcomed David Baldacci, author of the wildly popular suspense drama ABSOLUTE POWER. He discussed Hollywood, life as a writer, and his latest thriller, TOTAL CONTROL.
OnlineHost: Good evening, Mr. Baldacci! Our first question:
Question: Do you like doing what you do?
David Baldacci: I love writing, and earning your living doing something you love is wonderful.
Question: When is the new book coming out?
David Baldacci: It will be out the early part of 1998.
Question: Hi there! I would love to be an author, could you give me some starter points? Love your book!
David Baldacci: Think about why you want to be a writer. If you decide you really like to write, then spend a lot of time learning the craft, and read a lot of good authors.
Question: Did you have anyone in particular in mind for the lead role when writing the book?
David Baldacci: If you mean ABSOLUTE POWER, I wasn't anticipating a movie, I was just hoping to get the book published. But I did think Eastwood was a good choice.
Question: How do you feel about the film version of ABSOLUTE POWER compared to your novel?
David Baldacci: I knew it would be different -- adapting a book to film is very difficult. A number of things have to be cut. Trying to compare the book and the movie really isn't fair because they are such different mediums. I like the book better!
Question: Where do you work??
David Baldacci: I work at home so I have to share the computer with my three-year-old daughter.
Question: So who or what is your inspiration?
David Baldacci: A lot is simply imagination, but I do take characteristics of people I know and blend them into characters in the book. The president in ABSOLUTE POWER is not Bill Clinton.
Comment: I'm from Mechanicsville, VA, and my husband went to Glen Lea Elem. (He's a little older than you.) We are proud of you!!
David Baldacci: Thank you!
Question: Will you ever do a fantasy?!
David Baldacci: Fantasy can be a broad genre. I won't rule it out, I have a lot of interests.
Question: What type of law did you practice??
David Baldacci: I was a trial lawyer for five years, and then I did corporate work for about four years.
Question: Who are some authors you enjoy reading?
David Baldacci: John Irving, Ann Tyler, John Updike, Garrison Keillor, Mark Twain.
Question: Is there any chance that Sidney Archer may appear again in an upcoming book? She is a rich, well-defined character.
David Baldacci: It's certainly a possibility. I liked her character a lot, as well as that of Lee Sawyer, so they may appear in future books.
Comment: I really enjoyed ABSOLUTE POWER and am looking forward to TOTAL CONTROL. It's a pleasure to sit in on this interview.
David Baldacci: Thank you very much -- it's a pleasure for me, too!
Question: Do you have a professional relationship with John Grisham?
David Baldacci: He and I know each other, and whenever I'm in Charlottesville I look him up. He's a very nice man.
Question: I just finished TOTAL CONTROL, which I thought was a great mystery. Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little about it?
David Baldacci: My next book is done. It's entitled THE WINNER. I could tell you about it, but then I'd have to...you know the rest.
Question: How long does it take you to write a novel, from brainstorming and outlining to ready to be printed?
David Baldacci: Roughly 16 months to two years.
Question: I truly enjoyed TOTAL CONTROL. Is there any chance Lee Sawyer is going to be the protagonist in your next book?
David Baldacci: He won't be in the next book, but he may appear in the future. I really like him.
Question: Many people say that the work of John Grisham and other famous writers is beginning to get repetitive or dull, that they are running out of ideas, and that they are losing their talent. Do you disagree with this, and do you think this could happen to you?
David Baldacci: There is great pressure on bestselling authors to turn product out. I'm not sure that anyone can maintain high quality at that sort of pace. If it takes me four years to write my next book, then that's what it takes.
Question: Are you happy with the way they made the ABSOLUTE POWER movie?
David Baldacci: I thought the cast was great, and I thought the adaptation was great. If you forgot the book and considered it only a movie, then it was very entertaining.
Question: I'm curious. What do you think about the decision to make Luther the main character in the movie...instead of the lawyer?
David Baldacci: There was one reason for that...and his name is Clint Eastwood. As soon as he signed, I knew the story would build around his character. So, I missed Jack Graham a lot, but I wasn't surprised.
Question: Do you think that the information revolution is frightening or exciting? Are you more in touch with your audience, or are book signings better?
David Baldacci: I think it's both exciting and frightening...as are all new technologies. The upside is terrific, but there are downsides. I enjoy these chats, but I really prefer to meet people face to face. I guess I'm old-fashioned.
Question: Tom Clancy said his tip for beginning writers is "Just finish a book." Would you agree?
David Baldacci: I would agree, but I would add -- make sure you're writing for the right reasons. Then you'll be more likely to finish that book.
Question: Do you write to music, and if so, what particular music?
David Baldacci: I enjoy music while I'm writing. Everything from classical to Alanis Morissette.
Question: It is refreshing to read of such a strong female protagonist as Sydney Archer. Is it difficult to identify with her as a male author?
David Baldacci: I grew up with very strong female role models, thus I enjoy writing about women with those characteristics. I don't write about damsels in distress, because I don't know any. My wife is a great sounding board for the female characters.
Question: How did you know that you had reached the point with your novel where it was actually ready to publish? Did you later feel that you could have done more, or were you totally satisfied with the end product?
David Baldacci: I read a lot of books in the thriller genre. I had polished ABSOLUTE POWER to the point where I thought it comparable to the others I had read. As a writer, you run the risk of wanting to edit something forever. But at some point you have to let go.
Question: Which do you think is a better profession, that of lawyers or of writers? Which one do you prefer?
David Baldacci: It would be impossible to compare them, they're both challenging, and can be very rewarding. My preference is for writing, but I do not regret practicing law.
Question: How did you come up with the bedroom scene with the burglar behind the two-way mirror?
David Baldacci: I thought it was important that the reader see everything through the burglar's eyes. In that way I was able to get the reader to participate in the story. With that look, chances are they'll enjoy the book a lot more.
Question: Did you work as a lawyer while writing your first novel, ABSOLUTE POWER?
David Baldacci: Yes, I was a partner in a firm in Washington. I had been writing for nine years before ABSOLUTE POWER was published. I had been writing for years from ten at night until three in the morning, and working at the same time.
Question: Does your writing reflect any personal experiences with politics?
David Baldacci: I was a poli sci major in college, very interested in politics and power. As a lawyer in Washington I got a good dose of it, and I enjoy writing about it.
Comment: You are very inspiring to me!
David Baldacci: Thank you very much; it's good to be an inspiration!
Question: Do you do your own research?
David Baldacci: I do my own research, and I have a person who gathers information for me on some subjects. She's very talented and very hardworking.
Question: When will THE WINNER reach our local bookstores?
David Baldacci: It will probably be spring of 1998.
Question: Do you write a certain amount of hours every day in order, or when inspiration strikes?
David Baldacci: I write on and off all during the day. I don't have a set schedule, but I work every day. When I'm not writing, I'm thinking about it.
Question: Are you able to maintain a normal life despite your literary success?
David Baldacci: I'm trying [laughter]. Sometimes it's not so easy, but I'm not complaining.
Question: Has your perspective on our legal system changed since it's become the focus of your novels?
David Baldacci: I still have a lot of respect for lawyers and how hard they work. I think the public's perceptions of lawyers is somewhat skewed; they really don't know that much about them or what they do.
Question: Have your real-life experiences in the courtroom surfaced in your fiction?
David Baldacci: I don't really write courtroom dramas. However, some of the trial strategies were based on personal experiences.
Question: How do you feel about censorship of the arts, specifically literature?
David Baldacci: I've always had a great fear of the slippery slope, so censorship is not something I think is good.
Question: What is your favorite mystery TV show?
David Baldacci: "The Rockford Files"!
Question: Are you married? Children?
David Baldacci: I am married, and I have two children.
Question: Will you stick to writing thrillers as you do now, or will you attempt to write a novel like Michael Ondaatje's THE ENGLISH PATIENT?
David Baldacci: You may see something other than thrillers down the road. I have a lot of different interests, and there's a lot I want to write about.
Question: Where did you go to college and law school?
David Baldacci: I went to college at VCU, and I went to law school at the University of Virginia.
Question: Do you use a software product for writing? Which one?
David Baldacci: I do not use a software product for novels; for screenplays I use a product called Final Draft.
Question: Does your wife write, too?
David Baldacci: No. Although she certainly helps with my novels. She has the world's hardest job -- Mom.
Question: Do you recommend becoming a lawyer, or do you share the idea that the legal profession is overcrowded?
David Baldacci: There are about one million lawyers in the U.S. -- in sheer numbers there are probably too many. But if you have a passion for the profession, that shouldn't stop you.
Question: Did you write the screenplay for the film? If not, were you happy with the resulting screenplay?
David Baldacci: I didn't. William Goldman did, and I think Bill did a fine job.
Question: Who has been your role model through life and why?
David Baldacci: My mother and father. They have a very strong work ethic; they're very honest.
Comment: I read ABSOLUTE POWER while on a two-week safari in Africa. It certainly made the long airline trips pass quickly. On my return, I finally saw the movie. Sorry, the book was better. However, the movie had great actors. Liked it also.
David Baldacci: A very fair comment!
Question: Were you on the set at all when they made the movie "Absolute Power"?
David Baldacci: Yes, I was. With Ed Harris, Clint Eastwood -- had a great time.
Question: Did you "guide" Mr. Goldman through writing the screenplay in an effort to keep it as close as possible to the book?
David Baldacci: Bill Goldman is a two-time Oscar winning screenwriter -- he didn't need me to guide him at all.
Comment: I hate books where there is a damsel in distress.
David Baldacci: Me too.
Question: What is the downside -- losing privacy??
David Baldacci: Losing privacy, yes. And losing personal identities.
Question: What age would you consider for kids to read your books?
David Baldacci: Eighteen. Because at that age they can read anything regardless of what you tell them.
Question: You said earlier that you listen to music from classical to Alanis Morissette. Do you think that the mood of the music could affect the mood of your writing?
David Baldacci: One can only hope.
Question: What is your approach to developing a story's structure?
David Baldacci: First, I have to come up with a plot that...1) is sustainable as a novel, and...2) is something I'm interested in enough to commit so much time and energy to.
Question: How do you go about figuring out character motivation?
David Baldacci: You have to develop interesting characters -- obviously. Motivations oftentimes are dictated by goals and what values you give the characters.
Question: Isn't it easy to make mistakes writing from ten at night to three in the morning??
David Baldacci: Not if you love what you're doing!
OnlineHost: Thanks very much for joining us!
David Baldacci: I thank everyone for participating, I enjoyed the questions. Best wishes!
Total Control opens with an immediate shocker: A plane from Washington bound for Los Angeles explodes and plummets to earth just moments after takeoff. Until the crash, Washington attorney Sidney Archer seemed to have everything going for her: a loving husband, a thriving career, a beautiful daughter. But then her husband Jason's name turns up on the passenger list of the doomed Flight 3223. The FBI seems to think Jason might have been responsible for the crash and not on the plane at all. And then the lies start emerging.
In the hopes of giving his family everything he felt they deserved, Jason Archer entered into a deadly game of cat and mouse, secretly doing business with some extremely dangerous people. Now this high-tech world of hostile takeovers, artificial intelligence, and corporate espionage has forced him to disappear. In an effort to clear Jason's name and recover the family the plane crash destroyed, Sidney, with the help of FBI agent Lee Sawyer, plunges into the center of her husband's secret life, uncovering a sinister plot involving the murder of the country's most powerful individual, and putting her own life and that of her young daughter at stake.
This gripping page-turner, which vividly depicts the dark heart of the country's political and business affairs, proves again that David Baldacci is among the brightest new lights in the thriller scene.