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Home Reviews Book Reviews Baldacci speaks: Author talks about multiple storylines, electrically charged partnerships and his insider status

Baldacci speaks: Author talks about multiple storylines, electrically charged partnerships and his insider status

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There are a ton of storylines in “First Family,” David Baldacci’s latest political thriller. As I read the advance copy, I was so confused by all the jumping around that I ended up making a list of the main action. Here’s what happens:
A kidnapping.
A brutal murder.
A cheating husband.
A man set on revenge.
Another kidnapping.
Another cheating husband.
Two former Secret Service agents paired up to solve the first kidnapping.
Another brutal murder, totally unrelated to the main plot.
A first family with a lot of secrets.
Native American relocation.

Baldacci took a break from his publicity tour to talk about the book, its ambitious storylines and how he knows so much about the inner workings of Washington.

There are a lot of story threads running through your new book. There are snippets here and there for the reader, but no one's story is completed until everything wraps up at the end. Do you write each story in full and then cut and paste them into the chapters? Or how does that work?
David Baldacci: No, I go with the flow of the story, mostly in a linear fashion until the climax. The writing of the story is a journey for me as well with the understanding that I need to wrap plot lines up at the end. I hate novels where story lines are raised and the writer is too lazy to finish them, but just used them as obvious filler. And juggling so many balls is quite a challenge, but keeps you focused and in good writing form.

NT: Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are teamed up again. What makes their partnership work so well?
DB: They’re opposites who really care about each other. She’s unpredictable with issues, and he’s anal with issues and yet they find common ground somehow with each covering the other’s back. Also the romantic chemistry doesn’t hurt. And I like it that she can kick his butt any time she wants.

NT: You cover a lot of territory in this book. How did you decide to include Native American relocation into the plot?
DB: It fit Sam Quarry’s (one of the bad guys) character and helped fill it out. Also, in that part of the country I wanted to add it for atmosphere to give readers a better feel that this place was far different from D.C. And it also allowed readers to see a benevolent side of Quarry to act as a foil to his more dangerous impulses. I want readers to question their conclusions about Quarry, to be confused by him, unable to label him good or evil. That keeps readers on their toes.

NT: There is a "big reveal" dealing with Michelle Maxwell's past. Did you always know her history or did it come to you through the course of developing her character?
DB: While writing the second installment, “Hour Game,” I knew she was going to have these issues and worked my way through that, laying seeds and giving clues and having confrontations on the issue during the subsequent books.

NT: How do you know so much about the Secret Service?
DB: I watch, I listen, I read, I snoop, I become a journalist. 

NT: What's next for you?
DB: Brand new stand-alone characters in the fall set in D.C., involving a pair of very different sisters.


First Family - By David Baldacci
Grand Central Publishing. 464 pp. $27.99.
Release Date: April 21, 2009.

Three out of five stars




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