The Big Finish, the 14th book in the wildly popular suspense series starring PI Daniel Thorn, will be out on the 2nd, and James W Hall kindly stopped by to answer a few questions about the book, and more! Also, we’ve got a giveaway, so be sure to check out the details below the post!
The Big Finish is the 14th book in your series featuring PI Daniel Thorn. Will you tell us a little about what we can expect from this installment?
Like father, like son. Thorn’s son, Flynn, showing the same wild streak and passion for the natural world as his father, joins up with a radical environmental group. Also like his father, his idealism gets him into trouble, in this case in a rural part of North Carolina, and Thorn receives what sounds like a distress call from him. Thorn saddles up and rides off to a part of the world where he’s never been and must go hand to hand with some very twisted pig farmers in an attempt to save Flynn.
Did you ever imagine the series would go on this long? When you started writing the books, did you have a plan of how many you’d ideally like to write, or did you just decide to see where the series took you?
I had no intention of writing a series and thought I’d told Thorn’s complete story in the first novel, Under Cover of Daylight, but my publisher at the time urged me to keep Thorn alive and continue his saga. If I’d known then that I would be writing thirteen more Thorn novels I would have created him a little differently. He’s so isolated and so unwilling to get involved in the world, I have to put one of his friends or lovers in grave danger, or actually kill them to get Thorn to strap on his six guns and leave his splendid isolation. He’s like the world’s most unlucky guy.
How do you think Thorn has changed the most over the course of the series?
I think Thorn has gotten a little more mellow, a little less sulky and navel gazing than he once was. He’s still got a wry take on the world, but he’s a lot more accepting of certain aspects of modern life. Though he still doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
Speaking of writing… You started your career as a poet, but had you always wanted to write fiction? Will you tell us a bit about that progression, and what inspired the character of Daniel Thorn?
I always thought of myself as a writer, not a poet or a novelist, as one might think of themselves as a musician not a guitarist or a pianist. I’ve tried over the years to play more of the instruments in the band than just one. But when I was living in Key Largo many years ago and absorbing the eccentricities of the place and the tough-mindedness of the locals, I knew immediately that I wanted to write about them. They’re a wonderful blend of rural ruggedness and big city smarts (because they live so close to Miami.) So in that way Keys characters are much like archetypal American heroes. Cowboys, for instance, who are not as naïve as they might first appear.
In the Thorn books, Florida is a character unto itself, and ecology and the environment are big themes. What have you enjoyed most about writing this series, and setting it in such a unique and unusual state?
I’ve had a long love affair with Florida going back to my first encounter with the state when I was still in high school. I’ve never lost the sense that its flora and fauna and its people are unique in American life and uniquely vulnerable to exploitation and degradation by outsiders who can make great fortunes by destroying the very beauty they are hawking. I’m think of developers and politicians who have no real love for the gorgeous and fragile ecology of the state, but see it only as a profit source.
You’ve undoubtedly influenced many authors with your work, but what are a few authors or books that have influenced you the most?
I’ve been influenced by many writers. The list is very long. Elmore Leonard, of course, and John D. MacDonald, but also James Lee Burke, Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald.
What do you like to see in a good story? Is there anything that will make you put a book down, unfinished?
It’s hard to say because a good story can be good for many reasons and can hook you in many different ways. But certainly the protagonist must be believable, yet unique and have a voice that is engaging. And the problem they’re up against should be worthy of them and of my time. I also like learning stuff, the non-fiction content of fiction.
What are you currently reading?
I’m on a Tana French binge right now. She’s terrific. Loved Wild by Cheryl Strayd, and Gone Girl and all of Megan Abbott and Lee Child.
What’s next for you, this year and beyond?
I’m giving Thorn a break from me for one book or maybe more. I’ve always like the spy, international thriller genre, Daniel Silva, Ludlum, etc., so I’m trying to create a new character who might be fun to follow around for a few years. Thorn’s not done, but the guy has been brutalized so much lately, he needs a vacation from me.
**Wanna win a copy of THE BIG FINISH? I’ve got 2, courtesy of the nice folks at Minotaur, so fill out the widget, and I’ll pick a winner on the 5th (or so). US only!
About THE BIG FINISH:
A year ago Thorn’s son, Flynn Moss, disappeared into the eco-underground, his only contact with Thorn a series of postcards chronicling his exploits. But a postcard arrives unlike the others, a call for help, Thorn jumps into action, setting off for North Carolina. But before Thorn arrives, he’s intercepted by a federal agent who informs him he’s too late—Flynn had been acting as an informant for the FBI, and when his traitorous acts were discovered, he was summarily executed.
The agent proposes a scheme to catch Flynn’s killer using Thorn as bait. Thorn, full of rage, accepts the job if only to get his hands on his son’s killer. The mission takes him to a small town where the gang is holed up, planning an attack on a hog farming operation that has been polluting local rivers and spreading illness through the area.
Little by little Thorn discovers that nothing he’s been told is true, and the trap they’re setting isn’t for Flynn’s killer, but for his partner, a woman who proves more daring and dangerous than any Thorn’s ever met. She’s on her own crusade of vengeance, and she and Thorn make an uneasy alliance. With her help Thorn uncovers a conspiracy that stretches far beyond this small Carolina town.