Hi Mr Preston and Mr Child. Thanks for accepting my interview and welcome on Liberidiscrivere. Tell us something about you. Strengths and weaknesses.
Doug: I do most of the work and Linc just sits around giving advice.
Linc: Not true! Actually, we both live 300 miles apart so we write our books together using mostly the telephone and, of course, the internet.
Doug: We each have our own areas of expertise. Mine is in archaeology, history, mathematics and physics, while Linc is the expert in computers, codebreaking, food, wine, and the finer things in life.
Tell us something about your background, your studies, your childhood.
Doug: I grew up in the deadly boring suburb of Wellesley, outside of Boston.
Linc: And I grew up in the deadly boring suburb of Westport, Connecticut. We have that in common. Doug, I understand, was a quasi-criminal growing up, in trouble all the time, while I obeyed the law.
Doug: We’re still like that. Linc’s the find, upstanding, law abiding citizen while I am a bit of an outlaw.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
Doug: When I was eight, I wrote a book with a friend called Animal Valley.
Linc: And I also started writing seriously around the same age.
What about when it comes to fiction? Do you read other contemporary writers?
Doug: I love the books of Michael Crichton, Nelson DeMille, Ruth Rendell, as well as many of the 19th century English classics such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Wilkie Collins, and Charles Dickens.
Linc: Add Dennis Lehane to that list, along with H.P. Lovecraft and M.R. James.
Tell us something about your debut. Your road to publication. Have you received many refuses?
Our first novel, Relic, was turned down by five or six publishers. It gave us great satisfaction when it was a huge bestseller, and then Paramount made a film of it.
You have written many crime novels and a number of other novels. Which one is your favourite?
I think we both agree that The Cabinet of Curiosities may be our best novel.
Yours crime novels about special agent Pendergast have been translated into many languages. Is this exciting?
Very much so. In fact we get many, many emails from our Italian readers, who love Pendergast. Since Doug reads and writes Italian he answers all those emails. It gives him language practice.
Could you tell us a little about your main protagonist, Aloysius X. L. Pendergast?
He is unique, a 19th century gentleman trapped in a corrupt 21st century world. But his principles are unbending, his mind is as bright as a flame. He realizes he cuts quite an eccentric figure, but he doesn’t care. He is extremely impatient with people, but the one thing he cannot abide is stupid, unbending bureaucracy.
Why did you decide to write Relic?
Most of our novels are partly or mainly set in New York City, often in and around the American Museum of Natural History. The story of how we came to write about the Museum is a curious one. I had been writing a column in the magazine Natural History, published by the Museum, where I worked. An editor from St. Martin's Press, who had been reading my pieces, called me up and asked if I wanted to write a history of the Museum. I said yes -- and that became my first book, Dinosaurs in the Attic. After the book was published, I gave the editor a tour of the Museum -- at midnight. I showed him all the best places in the Museum to which I had access--the dinosaur bone storage room, the collection of 30,000 rats in jars of alcohol, the whale eyeball collection, the preserved mastodon stomach with its last meal inside, and a lot of other unusual things. We ended up in the Hall of Late Dinosaurs around 2:00 a.m., with only the emergency lights on, the great black skeletons looming in the darkness around us--and the editor turned to me and said: "Doug, this is the scariest damn building in the world. Let's write a thriller set in here." And that was the birth of Relic, which was, of course, a huge bestseller and eventually a number one box office hit movie. That editor was Lincoln Child. We both discovered we shared the same kind of sick, twisted view of the world. That was how our long and fruitful collaboration began.
How long did the process of writing the Relic take?
About two to three years. We were both working on other books.
Cemetery Dance is another your books translated in Italian. Could you tell us something about the plot of this book without revealing the final?
A New York City journalist is savagely assaulted in his own apartment—by a killer whom eyewitnesses swear died two weeks before… Now his wife will stop at nothing to learn the truth. Evidence points to a reclusive cult given to dark ritual, animal sacrifice—and, rumor has it, reanimating the dead. But the more she learns, the more she grows endangered—until her life is threatened in an unthinkable way…
…What secrets lie buried in the ancient church deep within Manhattan’s Inwood Hill Park?
I'd like to talk about the day to day process of being a writer. Would you describe a typical working day for you?
I work like anyone else, about eight hours a day. I get to work around eight and knock off at around four or five. I often work early mornings Saturday too.
Any movie projects from your books?
Quite a few. Gideon’s Sword is being made into an entire series of films by Paramount. The Monster of Florence is being made into a movie starring George Clooney. Riptide is being made into a movie by 20th Century Fox. And we have other books under option.
Who are your favourite living authors?
David Morrell, Steve Berry, James Rollins, Gayle Lynds, Mario Spezi.
What are you reading at the moment?
Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain (Doug)
Au Rebours by Joris-Karl Huysmans (Linc, in French)
Do you enjoy touring for literary promotion? Tell to our Italian readers something of amusing about these meetings.
We enjoy touring together. We often get into arguments about who should write the sex scenes in our books. We each think the other’s sex scenes are pathetic and we both feel sorry for each other’s wives as a result.
What role does the Internet play in writing, researching, and marketing your books? How about e-publishing? Where do you see that heading?
The internet for us is essential, since we live so far apart. It has made research much easier. Now, instead of spending a week researching one fact, we can get the information in ten minutes. Google Street View even tells us what specific places look like. As for ebooks, there is a big change coming. Even though we are both partial to old-fashioned paper books, we welcome the change.
What changes have you noticed in the world of fiction in the time you've been writing?
Of course many authors have come and gone, and tastes have changed. Too many young people are not reading these days, spending most of their time on the computer. But there will always be room for good books, and there will always be readers. Of that we are convinced.
What is your relationship like with your readers? How can readers get in touch with you?
We love interacting with our readers. We each have personal facebook pages as well as a fan page, which we post on almost every day. Italian readers are welcome to post in Italian – we have many Italian friends. Doug will answer their posts in Italian. Come and visit us at http://www.facebook.com/PrestonandChild. Be sure to “like” the page, so that our comments wills show up on your newsfeed.
Finally, the inevitable question: what are you working on now?
Our next Pendergast novel, Cold Vengeance, which will be published in the US in August. And Doug is working on The Monster of Florence, which will be a film starring George Clooney.