Linwood: I was thinking about hitchhiking. The hitchhiker is a familiar device in crime and horror fiction, but I was wondering whether there was something new I could do with it. I thought, what if the hitchhiker you’d picked up had to briefly get out of the car, and after returning, it started to dawn on you that this was not the same person you’d initially picked up. Once I had that opening, and was happy with it, I had to figure out just what had happened, and why.
Linwood: The Zack books, at the time, were not big sellers, although people are now discovering them and they are regularly being reprinted in the U.S. Funny mysteries are a pretty narrow genre, so I decided to switch gears and write a darker, non-series book. That was No Time for Goodbye.
Linwood: There’s still humour in the new standalones, particularly in the sarcastic exchanges between characters. It’s just that with the earlier books, I constructed the plot to allow for comic situations. I don’t do that any more. Sometimes, I let things get out of control and make a scene too funny, and have to go back and tone it down. If you let things get too farcical in a regular thriller, you break the tension, and hurt the mood.
people, or do ideas just come to you? Or, a mixture of both?
Linwood: It’s both. Even when real events inspire me, what I end up writing is very different from the original news story. But real events can be terrific springboards to something else.
Linwood: The four comic thrillers were a series, and I liked that. It’s nice to have your characters all ready and waiting before you start writing. A Tap on the Window is my first book to feature an actual detective, so it’s very possible I will bring him back.
Lizzie: Do you plan your plots before you start writing? And, if so, do your books change during the writing process, or do they pan out exactly as you originally planned?
Linwood: I need an opening hook before I start. I need to know most of my characters, who did what and to whom, and I like to know where I will end up. But the middle of the novel I don’t plan. I don’t see the opportunities that exist within the book until I get to them.
Lizzie: When embarking on a new book, what area of the book challenges you the most?
Linwood: Plot. The plot needs to hang together, or nothing works.
Linwood: Being done.
Linwood: Actually, I took a year off from my newspaper job to get another book finished. For five years, I had been writing a book a year while still doing about 130 columns a year, and it was killing me. So when No Time for Goodbye became a hit, I decided I could afford to take a year off from the paper to write Too Close to Home. But during that year I made the decision not to return to the paper, which was a very difficult decision. Not only did I love being a columnist, but I had a dental plan.
Linwood: No Safe House, the sequel to No Time for Goodbye, is finished and will come out in the fall of 2014. Now, I’m thinking about what the 2015 book will be, and would like to start writing it in January.
Too Close to Home (2008)
Fear the Worst (2009)
Never Look Away (2010)
The Accident (2011)
Clouded Vision (2011)
Trust Your Eyes (2012)
Never Saw it Coming (2013) Based on the novella Clouded Vision
A Tap on the Window
Bad Guys (2005)
Lone Wolf (2006)
Stone Rain (2007)