John Rector, the best-selling author of The Grove and The Cold Kiss (optioned for a feature film), has a new thriller out today: Already Gone. In this pulse-racer of a book, writing teacher Jake Reese is attacked in a parking lot one night by two men who cut off his ring finger. Bewildered by the incident, Jake tries chalking it up to bad luck—until his wife disappears, and he realizes that his dark past has finally come to track him down.
Amazon: Already Gone opens with an dramatic attack that eventually drives a wedge between Jake and his wife. Then you pull back and carefully build an emotional situation between these newlyweds. Was opening with that kind of contrast always your plan?
John Rector: The contrast wasn't as much a plan as a necessity. Already Gone takes off at full speed, so I had to introduce the reader to the characters right away. The trick was building the characters as the story developed, so the reader wouldn't get bored and close the book. Writing action and plot twists isn't the hard part—the hard part is creating characters the reader will care about. To do that, I had to show who they were before the main conflict tore through their lives and changed everything.
A: Are you ever surprised by how your writing unfolds?
JR: Yes, I'm often surprised by how things unfold as I'm writing. I usually have an idea where things are heading, but in each book, there has come a point where the different elements all come together in an unexpected way and form a bigger picture. That revelation is one of my favorite things about writing.