Better than one
|By Bill Castanier|
Best-selling authors put heads together for smart thrills
One of the most difficult tasks in publishing is for two authors to collaborate on a book. It’s often done for nonfiction, but seldom for fiction, which is what makes authors Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston so unusual, right along with their fictional thrillers.
This book finds the authors’ primary characters, FBI Special Agent Pendergast and New York Police Detective D’Agosta, investigating a series of bizarre murders that, according to witnesses and video, were committed by dead men. It’s not long before the trail leads to an unusual religious cult that practices animal sacrifice and has occupied an outpost in the most rural part of Manhattan since the turn of the last century.
That editor was, of course, Child. “We both discovered we shared the same kind of sick, twisted view of the world,” Preston said.
“Relic,” the first book in their shared series, grew out of that tour.
In addition to the unusual supporting cast of zombies, mythical beasts and aliens, the authors have created enigmatic protagonists, especially Pendergast, D’Agosta, archaeologist Nora Kelly and the everlast ing Constance Greene.
Child said he is partial to the eternally living Greene, who does not appear in “Cemetery Dance.” “I can almost promise you that there will be more novels featuring her and her unusual past,” he said.
In the novel they are working on now, Child said Pendergast’s unknown back-story would be explored. The obviously wealthy, lethal and cerebral detective shows up without any history or explanation. “The [next] book will deal extensively with a mystery that is central to Pendergast’s earlier life,” Child said.
The authors admit to drawing generously from characters like Sherlock Holmes in developing Pendergast, but Child said there are also “a half-dozen other fictional characters in him, too.”
Doing all this together is one mean feat, but the hyperkinetic imaginations of Child and Preston make it work. While writing, Preston said the authors first settle on a central theme, twist and idea at the center of the book. “In our current book, it revolves around a dark religious cult connected with the mysterious religion Obeah,” he said. The next step is finding a setting. In “Cemetery Dance,” it’s the last wild forest on Manhattan Island, complete with an old church, which houses the cult’s headquarters.
he one obvious supernatural figure yet to appear in a Preston- Child novel is the ubiquitous-as-of-late vampire. Child said there could be a vampire-related thriller in the future, but he also reminded what anyone who has read a book by these New York Times best-sellers already knows: “Our books almost always end up with a scientific explanation for whatever mysterious or seemingly supernatural events that take place,” he said.
And they always keep you guessing, right up till the end.
Lincoln Child & Douglas Preston