How does a Lawyer become one of the leading thriller writers in the world?
Just a lot of hard work. I wrote my first word 23 years ago in 1990 and I’ve been writing constantly ever since. Currently I have 11 novels in print. The King’s Deception is book 12, the 8th on the Cotton Malone series. I’ve been fortunate that my choice of stories and characters have proven popular. Each book has built on the one before it.
What was the inspiration that led to The King’s Deception?
In 2010 my wife, Elizabeth, and I were north of London in the town of Ely doing some publicity work for Hodder, my British publisher. A lovely woman was showing us around the magnificent cathedral and told me about a local legend. In the village of Bisley, for many centuries, on a day certain, the residents would dress a young boy in Elizabethan costume then parade him through the streets. I researched the legend and discovered that another writer, Bram Stoker, in the early part of the 20th century likewise heard the tale. The creator of Dracula was so impressed that he included the Bisley Boy in his non-fiction work, Famous Imposters, published in 1910. I found that book and read it. Then I found more books and discovered that much truth lay at the heart of the Bisely Boy legend—all of which centers around Elizabeth I, the last reigning Tudor monarch, who died in 1603¾and the novel was born.
Elizabeth I was a unique individual. All of her life she wore heavy make-up, wigs, and clothing that sheathed her body. She refused to allow doctors to physically examine her and left orders that, at her death, no autopsy should be performed. Her main duty as queen was to produce an heir so the Tudor lineage would continue, yet she refused to marry, refused to birth a child, and proclaimed herself the Virgin Queen. Most curious of all was that she was buried with her half-sister Mary, in the same grave, their bones allowed to mingle together. I discovered that all of this happened for a reason, and it’s that reason which my recurring hero, Cotton Malone, becomes entangled with while in England.
Cotton Malone has been a fantastic success for 7 years. Have you ever been tempted to start a new series with a new hero? (discounting stand alone books)
I still have many tales to tell for Cotton. But, you never know, there could be another series one day.
Will Cotton Malone have to leave the bookshop again (how long a wait), or is he retiring?
Cotton is back in The King’s Deception, drawn from his bookshop into another adventure, this one in England. And he’ll be around for the next 4 novels too. There are no plans for him to retire.
What is your favourite book: a.) that you have written; b.) written by another? (my all time fav Steve Berry is still Amber Room)
I’ve written 4 stand alone novels, 8 Cotton Malone adventures, and 4 e-book original stories I have to say, I love all of my children equally. My personal favorite book of all time is Hawaii, by James Michener. It was the first adult fiction book I ever read (at age 14), so it remains special.
What genre do you read for fun?
I’m a thriller junkie, so I gravitate toward those. But I also love pure historical fiction.
Will you and James Rollins ever combine talents?
That could well come to pass sometime in the next 2 years. Keep a check on my website, www.steveberry.org for more details on this.
I was fascinated to read about History Matters, what can you tell us about why you formed the foundation, what you are working on? and how can people help you?
Money for historic preservation and conservation is one of the first things to be cut from any budget. So my wife, Elizabeth, and I thought it was time to come up with an innovative way to raise money, and that’s what History Matters is all about. So far, the most popular thing we’ve done is a 4 hour seminar that we teach where writers, aspiring writers, and readers buy their way in with a contribution. Usually, that’s somewhere between $75 and $150. All of the money raised from the workshop goes to the particular historical project that has invited us to be there. No expenses or appearance fees are charged. In fact, we pay all of those ourselves. History Matters offers a way to raise money from a group of people who might not normally contribute to historical preservation — writers — with me acting as the conduit, providing education and expertise that might not normally be available in their area. So far, we have taught over 2000 students. Other ways History Matters raises money is through meet and greets, speaking engagements, gala events, receptions, luncheons, dinners, club meetings, or a cocktail party. We have participated in many of these. To date, we’ve raised $600,000 for various projects. We have several more scheduled this year, all of which can be found at http://www.steveberry.org under History Matters. All people have to do to help is drop us an e-mail and let us know if there is a project in their area. We’d love to do one in England.
Sell Kings Deception to the readers in your own words…what makes it stand out from the crowd?
The answer to the second question above lays out the basic premise of the great secret at the novel’s heart. But it’s also a modern day political thriller with a solid historic hook. You’re going to learn things about English history you never knew.