Book Talk: Baldacci turns to family drama in new book

Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:10am EDT
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By Bernard Vaughan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Best-selling author David Baldacci is known for penning page-turners such as "The Simple Truth," "Split Second" and "The Sixth Man," in which he guides readers through mysteries at the highest levels of power.

His latest novel, "One Summer," is a family drama, a genre Baldacci explored in short stories before his debut novel "Absolute Power" made him a star in 1996.

"One Summer" follows Jack Armstrong, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, as he tries to keep his family together following the sudden death of his wife and his own life-threatening battle with a mysterious illness.

Baldacci spoke with Reuters about the stylistic departure.

Q: How did you get the idea for this book?

A: "I was at church for my son's confirmation, and I'd gotten there early because my wife had asked me to save some seats for friends and family, so I had some time to think. I had a lot of things going on with my family at the time. My dad had passed away a year earlier. My mom was ill. My daughter was getting ready to head off to college. And I was thinking about my mortality, and this story hit me and unspooled before me -- the premise, the plot, the theme. I had to write it, and spent the next three months doing just that."

Q: "One Summer" is much different than the thrillers for which you're known. What types of challenges did you face in writing the book?

A: "In some ways it was liberating. I didn't have to lay out a lot of red herrings and clues. I could delve more deeply into the characters. Obviously, it's a different sort of genre. But those sorts of stories were what I started with. I wrote short stories for 10 years before I became a thriller writer, and their themes were more like the themes explored in 'One Summer.'"   Continued...