Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Guest Blogger: Barry Eisler

I asked Barry if he could tell us something about his latest book, what inspired it, for example.  And he delivered!  Here's the scoop.

Good to be here, Bill, and thanks for the invitation.

I think the inspiration for Fault Line came partly from my odd career path, which took me from being a covert employee with the CIA; to an international lawyer in DC, Silicon Valley, Tokyo, and Osaka; to a high-tech, venture-financed start-up executive in Silicon Valley.  Any one of those worlds is a potentially interesting milieu in which to base a story; having insider knowledge of all three is just too rich an opportunity to pass up.

But maybe all of that is more about the story’s foundation—necessary, but not sufficient; the body, but not the spark of life.  What really catalyzed the story was my sense of two brothers—one from the covert world, the other from the high-tech—who hated each other and hadn’t even spoken in years.  What would happen if one of them, the lawyer, got in trouble, and called on his big brother, the covert military operator, for help?  The younger brother would hate to make that call, maybe even more than the older brother would hate to receive it.  What would the older brother do at that point?  What if the two of them were forced to work together just to survive some kind of conspiracy?  Would they be able to?  Or would distrust and recriminations and spite overwhelm them?  What if, even as they were struggling in the face of grave danger with all this mutual hostility, their deep-seated animosity and resentment were brought to a boil by the presence of another lawyer, say, a beautiful Iranian-American woman who both brothers desire but can’t really trust?

The more I thought about these characters and the worlds they came from, the more questions I asked about who they were and what was forcing them together, the more excited I got.  I guess that feeling of excitement is the best kind of inspiration a story can ever have.

A lot of people have asked me if Fault Line means I'm done with Rain.  The short answer is no.  But at the end of the sixth and most recent Rain book, Requiem for an Assassin, I felt Rain would be busy for a while and I could leave him alone while I did something else.  I don't want to give away too much about Requiem, but I'll say that Rain gets pretty messed up psychologically in that story, and that at the end, he's got a lot of work to do to put the pieces back together.  While he's working on all that, I'm free to do something else, and in this case "something else" meant the story behind Fault Line, which I first thought of after finishing the manuscript for Rain Fall, the first Rain book (which, BTW, I actually wrote as a standalone!).

Next up is a Fault Line sequel focusing on Ben.  You know those 92 waterboarding interrogation videos the CIA says it destroyed?  What if they weren't destroyed?  What if the truth is so bad that the CIA copped to destroying the tapes rather than risk revelation of what really happened?  Sometimes the best way to conceal the commission of a crime is to "confess" to a lesser offense.  At least that's what they taught me when I was there; now we'll see how it plays out in the Fault Line sequel.


Barry Eisler said...

Thanks again for the guest slot, Bill!

thewriterslife said...

You know, it's really neat when you create these characters and all these characters don't know doo diddley about one another, yet it's when they do meet and they form the relationship they're supposed to have that the book takes on a life of its own. Ever feel that way?

Gerard Saylor said...

Hey, I read that book.

Ray said...

Sounds good - can't wait for this to cross the pond. Got all bar one of the Rain novels.