Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Author Spotlight: David Baldacci

With the 1996 release of his debut international blockbuster Absolute Power, David Baldacci reached the pinnacles of bestseller lists worldwide. He has remained there since, through more than 20 novels and 16 years. Over 110 million copies of his books are in print, in 45 languages. In the long history of the written word, the list is very short of authors in any genre who have achieved Baldacci's heights of popular success even briefly, much less who have made a lasting career of it. As importantly and in addition to his string of authorial triumphs, Baldacci is dedicated to a number of very worthy charitable pursuits. Among them, he's a National Multiple Sclerosis Society ambassador. Also, he and his wife Michelle have established a national literacy program called the Wish You Well Foundation, whose laudable mission is "supporting family literacy in the United States by fostering and promoting the development and expansion of new and existing literacy and educational programs." Clearly, doing good motivates the man as much as good writing.

Despite his whirlwind schedule, Baldacci continues to write gripping thrillers that enthrall readers all round the globe. His latest book, released just yesterday, is titled The Innocent. With breakneck pacing, it tells the story of America's most lethal assassin emerging from the shadows and breaking all the rules to save one teenage girl's life, at the risk of his own. Suspense Magazine says The Innocent is "One of the best Baldacci's best since Absolute Power," and we agree.

Gazalapalooza is thrilled Baldacci found time to take a seat for a few minutes under the blazing hot high beam of the Author Spotlight. As you can see, the Klieg lights are fired up, and so is our esteemed guest. Without further ado, let's get this Spotlight underway.

Gazala:    In my omnipotence, I've sentenced you to be stranded alone on a desert island for offenses best left unnamed. In my beneficence, I've decided to allow you a limited amount of reading material to make your stay a little less bleak than it would otherwise be. I'll spot you your religious text of preference, and the collected works of William Shakespeare. In addition to those, name the one fiction book, and the one nonfiction book, you'd choose to take with you, and why you choose them. 

Baldacci:    The book of nonfiction would be the ever-popular How To Get Off a Desert Island In Five Easy Steps. I think the reasoning is fairly obvious. The work of fiction would be The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. When one is stranded on a desert island, it's good to read about bleak post-apocalyptic misery if only to show that someone has it worse than you in order to keep your spirits up while you're waiting for the Titanic to come by and rescue you.

Gazala:     Your latest book, titled The Innocent, is an excellent and gripping thriller about stone cold hit man Will Robie transitioning from hunter to hunted while protecting himself and a teenage runaway from the shadowy powers behind a vast cover-up. I've read it. I enjoyed it immensely, and recommend it highly. Shockingly enough, however, from time to time my bare recommendation doesn't always motivate a book's potential reader to become a book's actual reader. Tell us something about The Innocent, and why its potential reader should make the leap and become its actual reader. 

Baldacci:    There are two plots in this novel and you don't know which is more important or whether they're connected. Will Robie is a predator who works alone and prefers it that way. In this story he has to become a guardian angel and responsible for someone else, a young teen named Julie Getty.  They are both on the run. They seemingly have no connection to each other. They don't really trust or like each other. But they have to depend on one another to survive. It takes all of what we think we know about human nature and turns it upside down. It will give you one of the biggest "Aha" moments of your life. And did I mention the amazing twist at the end? If that doesn't do it for you, I'm out of bullets.

Gazala:     What are books for?

Baldacci:    You can either read them or burn them. If we have more people who read them, life is far better. Reading is the same verb as thinking. Can't do one without the other. If the burners win out, we have Hitler.

Gazala:     W. Somerset Maugham said, "There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." Do you agree, or disagree, and why? 

Baldacci:    Agree. Only I didn't think it was three rules that we didn't know what they are, I thought it was only one. Sartre could probably figure that out for us, if he were still alive, but it's beyond this humble mind. Best advice I ever got about writing came from two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter William Goldman. He told me the moment you think you know what you're doing as a writer is the moment you lose it as a writer. Be afraid with every project that you can't bring the magic again. Fear is a great antidote to complacency and formula. You're writing books, not building widgets.

Gazala:     There's an eerie scratching sound on my attic floor I have to investigate. Ask yourself a question, and answer it. 

Baldacci:    Q: Why do you write? A: I can't not write. If you can't honestly say that, then find something else to do with your life. Otherwise, it's too damn hard.

The Innocent is available right now at retailers everywhere. If you'd like to order your copy from Amazon, we've made it simple for you -- all you have to do is click here.


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  2. Hello to both of you! I enjoyed reading the interview, and invite you both to my blog, where I review books regularly. I'll also invite you to catch my soon to end discount codes on Multiple Sclerosis an Enigma, which is posted on each day's post this week:

    Have you written a book about MS, David? I'd love to hear what you think of mine.