Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jeffery Deaver, courtesy of The Poisoned Pen

Jeffery Deaver was in the Valley today, to appear at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, promoting his latest Lincoln Rhyme book, The Broken Window. Since he was in town, he appeared this afternoon at Sunrise Mountain Library in Peoria, and The Poisoned Pen sold the books at the library.

He was introduced as the winner of the Ian Fleming Dagger Award. His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages. He's an Edgar nominee, who has been writing since 1988.

Jeffery Deaver began by asking the audience a series of questions that we were to silently answer. These were questions such as, have you ever been married? Have you ever been divorced? Have you ever had a credit card? Have you ever sent email? Have you used loyalty cards at a grocery store? Have you done research on Google? He said, if you've done any of these things, you are in deep trouble. At least, according to The Broken Window, you're in
trouble. Deaver said he loves creating villains. His villain in this book is called 522, because his first apparent murder was on May 22.

Data mining is important in this book. He explained data mining as getting access to data by going through information to get gold. For instance, you may receive direct mail for a product you bought before. Data mining has good parts. But, his villain takes all that mined information, and uses the information to get close to the victims, and then uses it to find innocent individuals in an area, with no alibi, and plants the evidence at that person's home. The mistake 522 makes is in picking Arthur Rhyme, Lincoln's cousin, to frame. He picks the wrong person. The evidence lines up too carefully for Lincoln. The book reveals more about Rhyme's family and childhood. As in other books by Deaver, it covers a period of 48 hours, and has lots of twists and turns. It has lots of esoteric information, about identity theft, data mining, and loss of privacy. Deaver then said, he wrote the book, but he won't read from it to the audience. He said his job is to write it, and ours is to read it.

Instead, he told us he would read from his diary. What a terrific experience! Jeffery Deaver has a very dry sense of humor, with a very ironic tone. He skipped from one year to another, to give us a taste of an author's life. He related the story of his first tour, and an appearance with a big author. When the moderator asked her whether she outlined, she went on about no author worth his salt would outline, and it was just she and her muse. She said only hacks outline. Deaver, who spends eight months outlining a book, could hardly respond that he was a hack who outlined. Instead, after listening to her, he said he outlined just a little.

In Italy, he was asked "When are you going to write real books?" He responded, "Who says crime books aren't real books?" and when the interviewer mentioned critics, Deaver ranted about critics who sit in ivory towers and can't write. Afterward, he was told the man was one of the preeminent Italian critics.

Throughout the diary reading, on various days, he mentioned the "dreaded chapter," as he tried to write the last chapter of the book. He had every excuse in the book, from buying dog food, to stopping at five o'clock. He hates writing that last chapter.

When he would mention a bad experience, he would often follow up with the silver lining. The contrasts were amusing.

One entry told of a conflict with dealing with a Hollywood studio over Deaver's book, A Maiden's Grave. They wanted to call "Dead Silence," because it had no maiden, and no grave, and the movie audience wouldn't get the subtle meaning from the book. Deaver said, well, this same studio made "Barbarians at the Gate", and it didn't have barbarians, and it didn't have a gate. They still wanted to call it "Dead Silence." Deaver is very fatalistic in accepting the worlds of publishing and Hollywood. He said there is some stupidity in the world, and these were just some crazy anecdotes about writing.

After finishing his reading, Deaver asked for questions from the audience. He said he does teaching, so he was perfectly willing to call on us if no one had questions.

He was asked about the submission of his first book, and he said he submitted it to fifty publishers before it was accepted. According to Deaver, "Rejection is not a brick wall. It's a speed bump." He said it's all subjective with publishers anyways. When he was working in publishing, William Styron passed on Michener's Hawaii. He was later fired. At the time Jeffery Deaver submitted his book, authors could send them directly to publishers. Now, everyone has to send it to agents first.

Jim asked how he came up with the character of Lincoln Rhyme. Rhyme is a forensic detective, and The Broken Window is the eighth book in the series. He is a quadriplegic. He can breathe on his own, and has a little motion in his hands. Deaver said an author writes for his readers. He wanted to write something new. What would be fun to read. He said Lincoln Rhyme is pure mind, and he's universal. We're all minds before bodies. He never thought it would be a series, but he even has Lincoln Rhyme fans in Latin America and Japan

He was asked about Denzel Washington playing Rhyme in the movies. He said Denzel has moved on, and the franchise itself is in litigation over money. His book, The Sleeping Doll, is supposed to be made into a movie with Uma Thurman playing Kathryn Dance.

Deaver said he'd forgotten to do the shameless self-promotion. He has a second book coming out this year, in November. He's been writing fewer short stories, and working on novels instead because fans wanted two books a year. The next book, The Bodies Left Behind, is a standalone thriller. He calls it, "Thelma and Louise meets Deliverance."

When someone mentioned all of the twists and turns in his book, he said he comes up with the twists by outlining.

The audience was surprised at the humor in his diary entries. He said he once challenged a class to answer the question, who were his influences. He said they mentioned different people, including Shakespeare, but finally one bright young woman answered correctly, Seinfeld. The multiple stories are interrelated. He said his humor is based on the unexpected. That's scary in the context of Deaver's books. He said Lincoln Rhyme does get in some zingers. Lincoln is a stickler for grammar and punctuation, and there is a running gag in the books about language. However, Rhyme is a curmudgeon.

He said he once turned down dinner with Angelina Jolie, since he was too busy writing his next book. Besides, she scares him.

Jim asked if he ever wrote a standalone, and then thought it would have made a good series. Jeffery Deaver said he's alternating the Lincoln Rhyme books and the Kathryn Dance books, so one will be out every June. He's written them so they can solve any crime, so those books are open-ended. But, his standalones couldn't sustain a series.

When he was asked about his favorite book, Deaver said it was Garden of Beasts: A Novel of Berlin, 1936. It did well in Europe, but he was disappointed with the reaction in the U.S. It explores more interesting ideas than his other books, and has the most heartfelt character development. It's 100% accurate historically. It has lots of research, and he likes that. It has good surprise endings, and he thinks readers will be surprised. It's the story of a hitman hired to kill Hitler's armaments director. It wasn't published in Germany. They wouldn't touch it.

Jeffery Deaver said he stays on top of new technology by subscribing to blogs and websites. A question brought him back to The Broken Window. Was he ever a victim of identity theft? He said someone once stole his credit card information, and the identity number and charged $3000 online. Worst of all, they changed his address so he never received the bill, so he didn't pay. The damage was done by the time he realized it because he had moved. By the time he realized it, his credit rating had been trashed.

Jeffery Deaver was nice to everyone, and patiently signed books, and posed for pictures, including one with Jim. And, if you get the chance to see him, you'll enjoy Deaver's quiet, dry humor.

Thanks to The Poisoned Pen Bookstore and Sunrise Mountain Library for hosting Jeffery Deaver. And, I bought two books and had them autographed, so they'll be the prizes in the next contest. Watch for that tomorrow night!



(Jim with Jeffery Deaver)

2 comments:

Maria said...

What a great write-up! It sounds like he really took his time and had lots to share. What a fun evening!!!!

Lesa said...

Thanks, Maria!

It was terrific. He does a great presentation.