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David Baldacci: LibraryThing Author Interview

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David Baldacci is a prolific writer of thrillers. His latest, Deliver Us from Evil, is the sequel to The Whole Truth, which came out in 2008. In addition to Shaw and Katie James, we're introduced to Reggie Campion, a deadly beauty whose interests are not dissimilar to Shaw's.

David practiced law before turning to writing. He's been asked to imagine doomsday scenarios for the government, started a foundation to combat illiteracy and has embraced technology as a writer—Deliver Us from Evil can be purchased as an enhanced ebook.

From readafew: Do you feel any of your heroes or villains could possibly exist in the real world, given the opportunity, or do you feel they are more caricatures to help set them apart and make the story more engaging?

I would hope that none of them exist in the real world, but unfortunately I'm sure some do. When you have people jockeying for power and treasure it's amazing what action they can rationalize. We usually find out about it after the fact, in the news, with the people walking into a courtroom with a bag over their head. But villains are interesting to create. People find them fascinating because they are different. They are us without the societal filter or compassion.

From KateEaton: Because you create such sympathetic characters, I must ask: how do you keep your characters from morphing into each other as you begin a new writing project? In other words, how do you keep creating new people to populate your books without any retreads?

I treat every novel I write as my first novel. I'm scared to death I won't be able to bring the magic again. That fear forces me to be more creative, more original and not look back at what I wrote before as a template. I also write about things I'm interested in and my interests keep evolving.

From melselby: You do a good job of writing characters who have very different perspectives on the world. Have you ever found your opinions changed as a result of writing for a character that you initially disagreed with?

I think it's made me more open-minded and amenable to listening to different points of view. There should be no shame in having one's mind changed for a good reason.

From JulieC0802: Which character was the hardest to write? Which one was the easiest? Are any of your characters based on people you know or purely imaginative?

The hardest to write are ones I have little familiarity with, which of course means the evil people come very easily to me. Just kidding. Women can be hard to write because as a man I may miss some of the nuances and subtleties of that gender. The bad guys are not easy to write, but they tend to be more fun to create because it allows me to exercise maximum creativity.

From floramargarine: Does David have an image of the character in his head when he is writing their dialogue and would he want casting approval should a film or tv series be made of the book to preserve that image?

I do have an image of the character as I'm writing the person. It gives me a touchstone, a grounding to build the foundation for the person. I wouldn't want casting approval because if I mess it up they'll blame me.

From blujen: David, you often reference the Frog and the Scorpion fable. Who was your Scorpion? Can you share the circumstance?

We've all had scorpions in life who we thought we could change, or trust, but life is not fair. As a former lawyer I've had my fair share of scorpions. It hasn't made me more cynical per se, but it has made me smarter about things.

From imaginelove: How do you choose the situations your characters are placed in? I've noticed trends in the books of my favorite authors much like design trends on the runway. I'm halfway through Deliver Us From Evil and it's fun to see the connections to other works.

They have to be logical and plausible. For Deliver, it made perfect sense for my character Shaw to be flying around the world doing his work because that's his space. In True Blue about a DC cop, the footprint was obvious. I try to see what paces I want to put my characters through and build geographical scenarios around that character that make sense.

From susiesharp: How did you get picked to be a part of [The History Channel's] "America the Story of Us". Are you a history buff? Have you ever thought about writing historical fiction?

I think being on the History channel was some sort of mistake. They just showed up and started filming. I am a history buff and I actually spoke on all twenty subject matters they provided me. I think the show really turned out well.

Something exciting about Deliver Us from Evil is that the ebook version is available with enriched content (otherwise known as a writer's cut ebook, like a director's cut DVD). In addition to the text of the book, readers can find deleted scenes and even an alternate ending. Is there a particular feature you are excited about getting to share? What would you like to do as a ebook feature for a new book?

The video of me in the office answers a lot of questions people have about me and my daily life. The edited manuscript pages show the creative process. The alternate ending is pretty cool, and shows another creative choice. For future ebooks I might be filmed on location doing research.

The Wish You Well Foundation is a literacy program founded by David and his wife, for supporting literacy efforts for children and adults. What kinds of goals or benchmarks are you working towards?

Pure and simple to eradicate illiteracy in the U.S. The goal will be achieved when everyone can read at an acceptable level. We have a long way to go.

What have you been reading recently?

Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (not for the first time).

What's on your bookshelf?

I keep Mark Twain close along with Conan Doyle*, John Irving, a copy of Mockingbird, A Tale of Two Cities, the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next series which is phenomenal, David McCollough's superb biographies, a Hemingway* or two, a little DeMille, a pinch of Sue Grafton and Michael Connelly, Sophie's Choice, In Cold Blood, the book that made me think about writing mysteries, some political tomes. Nothing like a good book. At our vacation house the books are arranged alphabetically. I've found there are more author's whose names end in the first half of the alphabet than in the last half. Go figure:)

—interview by Sonya Green

*LibraryThing has Legacy Libraries for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Ernest Hemingway, featuring books that they were known to have owned.

Books by David Baldacci

The Camel Club (3884 copies)
The Collectors (3339 copies)
Split Second (3099 copies)
Hour Game (3080 copies)
Stone Cold (2826 copies)
Simple Genius (2818 copies)
Absolute Power (2654 copies)
The Winner (2558 copies)
Last Man Standing (2439 copies)
Saving Faith (2408 copies)
Total Control (2330 copies)
The Simple Truth (2259 copies)
Wish You Well (2212 copies)
Divine Justice (2189 copies)
First Family (2165 copies)
The Whole Truth (2142 copies)
The Christmas Train (1720 copies)
True Blue (1658 copies)
Zero Day (1641 copies)
The Innocent (1586 copies)
Hell's Corner (1569 copies)
The Sixth Man (1435 copies)
Deliver Us From Evil (1394 copies)
The Forgotten (1336 copies)
The Hit (1257 copies)
Memory Man (1019 copies)
King and Maxwell (933 copies)
One Summer (887 copies)
The Target (880 copies)
The Escape (873 copies)
The Guilty (655 copies)
The Last Mile (641 copies)
The Finisher (443 copies)
No Man's Land (389 copies)
The Fix (311 copies)
FaceOff (267 copies)
Day Of Doom (215 copies)
No Time Left (159 copies)
The Keeper (136 copies)
Bullseye (117 copies)
Office Hours (97 copies)
The Mighty Johns (54 copies)
End Game (10 copies)
Murtunut mies (1 copies)
As you Were (1 copies)
De schuldigen (1 copies)
The Lion (1 copies)
Baldacci David (1 copies)
The Hunt Club (1 copies)
Evil (1 copies)
Balance of Power (1 copies)
The 13th Jury (1 copies)
Memoria total (1 copies)

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