Thursday, January 30, 2014

Guest Post- The Tenth Circle by Jon Land

We'll be reviewing Jon's book, The Tenth Circle, in just a bit here on this blog, but first we have a guest post from Jon as part one of our stop on The Tenth Circle book blog tour!

I asked Jon:
What influenced this dual topic- the Roanake and Mary Celeste mysteries- were you always intriqued by the unexplained? How did you come to tie it all in together?

The Tenth Circle cover

Jon's reply:


Essentially, the structure of thrillers is based on drawing connections between apparently random events, a definition fully on display on my latest book, THE TENTH CIRCLE.

See, when I start a book I have only a vague notion of where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. I don’t outline, fully believing I’m at my best when I rely on spontaneity, letting the story dictate to me where it needs to go.

Hey, if I don’t know what’s going to happen next, you can’t possibly know, right?

THE TENTH CIRCLE is fueled by an opening prologue that features not one, but two of the greatest historical mysteries of all time. And in doing that I’m actually following one of the greatest and most popular trends in thriller fiction, something let’s call “historical speculation.” Let’s go back all the way to 1976 and the exceptionally influential Raise the Titanic, the Clive Cussler classic that helped define the contemporary action-adventure thriller. It’s easy to forget that the book’s basis was that the Titanic was sunk because of something it was carrying in its hold, something with roots in a 19th century expedition undertaken in Russia. Cussler, by the way, has long been the master of this particular technique, always setting up his Dirk Pitt adventures with historical backdrops ranging from the circumstances of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance to Abraham Lincoln maybe not having been assassinated at all. Dan Brown brought this particular What if? to a whole new level, and similarly helped redefine it, in his mega-selling The Da Vinci Code which fueled the rise of Steve Berry, James Rollins, and Brad Meltzer, all who are expert at using parts of history to fuel speculation.

Prior to THE TENTH CIRCLE, my latest release, I had contemplated using either the inexplicable vanishing of the colonists from Roanoke Island or the seagoing mystery of the Mary Celeste as jumping off points any number of times. But the time, and subject matter, was never right. Now, normally I plan out a book months in advance but with THE TENTH CIRCLE it was mere weeks because the great success of the book’s
prequel, PANDORA’S TEMPLE, led me to plunge into it because I had a window of a few months open to write and I wanted to get it out in time for this holiday season. So I naturally gravitated not just to including one of those historical mysteries, but both, and committed myself to finding a historical connection between them. No small feat, given the gap in time between Roanoke and the Mary Celeste. So if you’re wondering, when I committed to doing this I really had no idea what that connection was going to be.

THE TENTH CIRCLE being an adventure-thriller featuring a hero, Blaine McCracken, prone to saving the world, I knew what I needed: A weapon, and not just any weapon either. A super-weapon, the likes of which have never been seen before.

What if, I asked myself, the Roanoke colonists were killed all at once by a weapon so powerful if provided no time for anyone to either escape or make some record of what had befallen the colony?

And what if that same weapon ended up in the cargo century expedition undertaken in Russia.

Boom! THE TENTH CIRCLE went from being a vague notion, to a real book, a thriller in the truest concept of the word.

Tying the disparate strands of a thriller like THE TENTH CIRCLE together is all about reverse engineering—starting with you’re going to end up and figuring out how you’re going to get there. The great thing about technology is the same thing that makes thrillers a blast to read: anything is possible. I don’t want to spoil the fun of reading the book by giving away too much, so suffice it to say that in this case for me the reverse engineering process was as simple as posing a question in my Safari browser’s Google box. Seconds later, I had just the answer I needed in the form of a precedent that made tying everything in THE TENTH CIRCLE up tighter than a Christmas bow believable.

Because when crafting my thrillers I rely heavily on the great mantra coined by Robert Louis Stevenson: it doesn’t matter to me if you believe what I’m writing is true; all I care about is that you do not disbelieve it.

The suspension of disbelief—something else all my thrillers in general, and THE TENTH CIRCLE in particular, relies upon. I write for that part of you that’s still a child, looking to lose him or herself in a story to the point that the clock in the room stops ticking, replaced by pages turning and one cliffhanger chapter ending giving way to another. If I knew everything before I started, the process wouldn’t be nearly as much
fun. But if I have a blast writing a book, it stands to reason that you’re going to have a blast reading it.

Finding out if I’m right is as simple as picking up a copy of THE TENTH CIRCLE and turning to page one. Love to offer you a money back guarantee, but the publisher probably wouldn’t go along with it. So one winter night (no shortage of those this year!), crack the book open and see if you end up finishing by that dawn or the next.

You can let me know either way at And I can’t wait to hear!

1 comment:

  1. It's fascinating to read how an author allows the plot of a thriller to form and develop as it is written. Thanks so much for sharing with us!


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