February 20, 2011

Authors Q&A: Fresh thrills

Round Pond's Douglas Preston and writing partner Lincoln Child introduce a new protagonist in their latest cliffhanger, 'Gideon's Sword.'

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Douglas Preston

And in particular, his sketchy character. We wanted someone who was a bit of a rogue, sort of a charming rogue, whose morals, whose ethics were flexible in a way that might be a little disturbing. Who is compulsive and not really in control of himself. Is he James Bond? Not at all. James Bond was someone who was always in control of himself. This guy Gideon is based on the coyote trickster of Native American legend, really. A lot of Native American stories involve the trickster character, who sort of gets his way by tricks, maybe like a Br'er Rabbit type. He lies, he steals, he manipulates people. This is Gideon.

He's a master of social engineering, which is a contemporary term for a person who breaks into computer systems not by hacking passwords and things like that but by socially engineering his way in. He's a sketchy person, but he's got a heart of gold. He does have his own moral code, it's just that sometimes he's weak or drinks too much and finds himself in trouble. Also, he has a back story. He's got an illness which really affects him, but I don't want to go into that. 

Q: Your book "The Monster of Florence" is being made into a movie now. What did you think when you heard George Clooney would be playing you?

A: I think it's wonderful. I think George Clooney is a wonderful actor. He's a real star, to me anyway. I really like him as an actor, and I'm glad that it's him and not somebody else. 

Q: Would you ever want to get that close to a real murder case again?

A: Honestly, no. It was very disturbing. One of the things in the book that we explore is, "What is the nature of evil?" Because the Monster of Florence was truly evil. And just coming into contact with that, and thinking about it in a really big wayI didn't actually see the crime scenes, but I saw the photographs. I interviewed some of the relatives of the victims, and it was just really, really difficult and disturbing, and I just don't think I'd ever want to go through that again. 

Q: That book is based in part on your own experiences with the Italian prosecutor who went after Amanda Knox. How closely do you follow that case? You've spoken out about the Italian justice system, but have you just done that on your own, or are you in touch with the Knox family?

A: I've been doing it on my own. I am in touch with the Knox family, only in that we've communicated because they contacted me. I'm following the case very closely. I think that it's a terrible travesty of justice.

But I think the appeals trial is going to exonerate her because of the manipulated nature of the evidence. They finally allowed the defense a chance to bring in their expert to look at the evidence, and that's going to show that it's all manipulated and fabricated, that scientific fraud was committed. And once that happens, I think she'll be released.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:



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