Thursday, October 16, 2014

Please Welcome Jon Land, Author of the Caitlin Strong Thriller Series

Omnimystery News: Guest Post by Jon Land
with Jon Land

We are delighted to welcome novelist Jon Land to Omnimystery News today.

Jon's sixth thriller in his Caitlin Strong series is Strong Darkness (Forge Books; September 2014 hardcover and ebook formats). We asked Jon if he could tell us more about the origin of the book's concept, and he titles his guest post for us today, "Fact Meets Fiction in Strong Darkness".

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Jon Land
Photo provided courtesy of
Jon Land

Crafting solid fiction these days, especially thrillers, inevitably means relying on facts. But Strong Darkness, the sixth entry in my Caitlin Strong Texas Ranger series, has several crucial plot points drawn from the newspaper instead of purely my imagination. Let's begin from where the book's concept came.

Did you know that the Chinese built America's 4G wireless network?

Hey, don't feel stupid; I didn't know it either, but they did. It was constructed by a Chinese-owned company called Shinzen based, coincidentally, in Plano, Texas. The night I saw that story on 60 Minutes, Strong Darkness was born with the prototypical What if? question; in this case what if a powerful Chinese billionaire wins the contract to build the 5G network as part of a plot to seek vengeance against the United States? No way I could have pulled that off in fiction if it didn't have an actual basis in fact, no way. But it did, lending the book added relevance and establishing the kind of credibility that's crucial for a thriller to succeed. When somebody says, "You can't make this stuff up," they might as well be talking about that.

So why does Li Zhen, the book's villain, hate America so much? Glad you asked! And to answer that question I went back into the past, incorporating a historical subplot based in 1883 when Chinese laborers were greatly responsible for expanding rail lines through Texas. That historical subplot features Caitlin's great-grandfather, William Ray Strong, also a Texas Ranger, tracking the Old West's first serial killer whose victims are all young Chinese women. But something else happened in that railroad camp somehow linked to Li Zhen's motivation for revenge. Fiction from fact again, in other words, even before I decided to team the fictional William Ray Strong with the very real infamous hanging judge Roy Bean (who actually only hung a single man, but that's another story).

And I didn't stop there. The modern day, and very real, scourge of human trafficking plays a major role in Strong Darkness through one of the major characters who was a victim of it herself. She's after her own vengeance and that brings her across the path of Caitlin Strong. One of my favorite moments in the book is a simple phone call between the two of them, because it highlights Caitlin's flaws and the darkness in her own past. But that scene is so effective because the pain feels real and to a very large degree it is. Fact into fiction again.

I also chose to open the book with a thinly disguised version of the Westboro Baptist Church picketing a young veteran's funeral. I did that simply to give Caitlin somebody to bulldoze into a drainage ditch (Hey, it beats shooting them!) But the scene played so well, and resounded so smartly, I decided to bring the evil preacher back for a well-placed encore later in the book and, again, the emotional resonance comes from the fact behind the fiction.

Want more? How about the Deep Web, cell phone technology, voting machines, the Cloud — whoa, I'm on the edge of my seat just thinking about what I wrote and I'm predicting you'll have the same experience when you read it.

Now, that's a fact.

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Jon Land graduated from Brown University in 1979 Phi Beta Kappa and Magna cum Laude. He continues his association with Brown as alumni advisor to the Greek System, and vice-president of the Brown Football Association. He bases his novels and scripts on extensive travel and research, as well as a twenty-year career in the martial arts. He is an associate member of the United States Special Forces, has volunteered frequently in schools to help young people learn to enjoy the process of writing and chairs the Marketing Committee of International Thriller Writers. He lives in Providence, RI.

For more information about the author, please visit his website at JonLandBooks.com and his author page on Goodreads, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Strong Darkness by Jon Land

Strong Darkness
Jon Land
A Caitlin Strong Thriller

1883: Texas Ranger William Ray Strong teams up with Judge Roy Bean to track down the Old West's first serial killer, who's stitching a trail of death along the railroad lines slicing their way through Texas.

The Present: Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong finds herself pursuing another serial killer whose methods are eerily similar to the one pursued by her great-grandfather almost a century-and-a-half before.

But that's just the beginning of her problems. The son of her boyfriend is nearly beaten to death at Brown University. The investigation leads back to Texas and to the Chinese high-tech company awarded the contract to build the US's 5G network. Li Zhen, the company's founder, counts that as the greatest achievement of his career, but it hides his true motivations — nothing less than China's total domination of the United States.

His plan is backed by elements of the Chinese underworld. Up against an army at Li's disposal, Caitlin blazes a violent trail across country and continent in search of secrets hidden in the past, but it's a secret from the present that holds the key. Darkness is coming, and only Caitlin Strong can find the light before it's too late.

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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