Jeffrey Deaver in conversation
The international bestselling crime writer, Jeffrey Deaver was visiting from his home in the USA to introduce his new Lincoln Rhyme thriller 'The Cutting Edge' to his UK fans. In his week's tour he took in bookshops and festivals from Edinburgh to Portsmouth, and today he travelled to meet us in Woodbridge Library for a lunchtime event on a gloriously sunny day.
A former journalist, attorney and folksinger, Jeffrey Deaver is 'the master of suspense'. He has written 35 novels, including the 2011 authorised James Bond thriller 'Carte Blanche'. His work has sold over 50 million copies in more than 35 languages around the world, winning numerous awards.
In this latest book, Deaver's most popular character, Lincoln Rhyme is at work again in NYC as he tries to catch a killer targeting couples.
Jeff was a real star. He opened by acknowledging how grateful he was to booksellers for supporting and recommending his books, and for his fans for being so loyal and appreciative of his writing. But he also referred to his trade as a 'business'. He may be hugely successful and an internationally known name, but, he said, he still wants more readers and getting to events, meeting fans and introducing his books to potential new readers, is vital for encouraging more sales of his books. For the past 30 years he has dedicated two months each year to touring.
He talked of this new book, where he investigated the diamond trade for the backdrop for the story, but he also described his writing process in general.
He takes eight months to research and plan a book before setting to write, he said. He needs to know every nuance of the plot before he begins, and he commented on how different this approach is to his colleague, the author Lee Child. They had recently spoken together at a festival, and Jeffery discovered how Lee picks up a pen, writes the first sentence and that's as much as he knows about a new book at that point.
This is the 14th Lincoln Rhyme book. The character is familiar to Jeff's fans, of course, but each book can be read as a standalone novel. Jeff doesn't age his characters, so their stories can continue indefinitely - and Jeff plans to write many more, he said.
There is nothing wrong with having a formula for a book, he said, and joked about how many twists and surprises he incorporates into his books.
He quoted the crime writer, Mickey Spillane who said that people don't pick up a book to get to the middle, they read it to get to the end, so it's important to keep their interest throughout the book.
Jeffery's publicity photo was quite intimidating, but he was warm and generous and I asked him how he feels about immersing himself in the dark world of his novels. Does it affect his mood or character? He said that if you are in command of your craft, you can step back, just as a surgeon or a pilot might do. He also stated that the violence in his books is 'off camera' and, as such, his books are recommended to high school children to read in America. He said he had a rule that he didn't hurt children or animals in his stories.
The audience had lots of questions for Jeffery who answered fully while still being conscious of his tight schedule. People had travelled some distance to join us - Saxmundham, Colchester and London! He made sure he chatted to everyone as he signed their books, and he was happy to feature in numerous 'selfies'!
Jeffery left us to speak on BBC Radio Suffolk and then travelled to Norwich for an evening event. We hope we'll see him in Suffolk again very soon.
Tickets were £15 and include a copy of 'The Cutting Edge' (RRP £16.99).