Monday, November 30, 2009

Alan Jacobson

From Carolyn Haines' interview with Alan Jacobson, the USA Today bestselling author of four thrillers, including the recently released Crush:

Tell us about Crush's main character, Karen Vail, who we first met in The 7th Victim. She went through a lot in The 7th Victim. Does she change any in her second outing in Crush?

Karen Vail is the first female FBI profiler. In the mid-90s, I was writing an as-yet unpublished novel when a wise-cracking, high-energy character unexpectedly flew from my fingertips. I found her so stimulating that I knew one day I'd devote an entire novel to her. At the time, I'd been working with Supervisory Special Agent Mark Safarik, a profiler at the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit. I met Agent Safarik by accident but we quickly became friends and often spent hours talking on the phone about profiling and serial offenders. I found the topic fascinating, and it gave me the perfect vehicle for this new Karen Vail character I'd created.

Over a 15 year period, I made repeated trips to the FBI Academy, attended FBI profiling training courses, shot submachine guns in their indoor range, viewed volumes of crime scene photos and offender-created videos of their heinous acts, and edited four published FBI research papers on serial offender behavior. And I got to know the real-life Karen Vail, who gave me valuable insight into how Vail would function as the only woman in an all-male unit.

Though Vail means well, her aggressive approach doesn't always bring desirable results. In Crush, we see that she's learned from the events that transpired in The 7th Victim. Because of the incredibly strong reader and critical response to Vail, I was careful not to change her too much. But I wanted there to be some growth. The Vail we see in Crush is a bit more aware of the consequences of her actions. She thinks before acting or firing back a sarcastic retort. Not always--sometimes she just can't help herself--but, like all of us, she's a work in progress.

Crush takes place in the Napa Valley, an area associated with romantic vacations. What is Crush about, and how did you pull off writing a thriller in wine country?

Crush picks up...[read on]
Visit Alan Jacobson's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue