I'm a Researchaholic: An Interview with Joe Finder - Joanna Campbell Slan

I'm a Researchaholic: An Interview with Joe Finder


Joe Finder will be appearing at the Love Is Murder Conference in Chicago, Feb. 4-6, 2011. For more information go to www.loveismurder.net

1.Unlike most action oriented books, your settings are not exotic. Often the scariest scenes occur in office buildings. Many authors rely on dramatic settings. How do you manage to make such commonplace settings still seem frightening?

The familiar is what we identify with most, and we need to identify with a situation before we can be frightened. Alfred Hitchock understood this. He was the master of taking the ordinary man in the commonplace setting, and turning it into something tense and unexpected. That tension, that fear happens when something disrupts the familiar: the thing under the bed, the noise on the stairs. That’s what I’m interested in.

2.Your hero/ine is often a sort of “every man” or “every woman” who is discounted by others. Why does this type of character appeal to you? It would seem that the pitfall would be a character who is too bland or boring to hold the reader’s attention, and yet your characters are compelling…even if they are slackers. Please comment. Also, you seem to include male characters who are amazed that they’re loved by smart and attractive women. This goes contrary to many male fantasies of being irresistible. Tell us about that.

I think the “everyman” is the ideal protagonist for a thriller, again because of this question of identifying with the hero. I also love the idea of the underdog, the person the reader wants to root for because everyone else seems to underestimate them. Nick Heller can be beaten, and because we know that, the stakes are higher. It’s much more exciting for the reader when he overcomes those obstacles.

Men might pretend to think they’re irresistible, but I’ll let you in on a secret: most of us know that’s a fantasy. Most men have no idea why any woman would find us attractive. Life’s not an Axe commercial. I think both men and women appreciate a more realistic approach.

3. Your books are full of tension and suspense, but it comes from events most of us might imagine ourselves in, such as snooping around in an office where we don’t belong. Or getting caught in a lie. You are a master at upping the stakes and amplifying the threat. How do you do that?

All of my anxieties feed my twisted imagination, or maybe it’s the other way around. I imagine myself in a given situation and ask, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Then I play out the scenario in ways that will challenge the reader’s expectations. If a reader thinks, “Oh, I know where this is going,” but something completely different happens, that’s exciting, that’s thrilling.

You have to start with a character the reader cares about, and then put them through a sequence of events that escalate, with moments of real tension

• Posted in Blog • Tags: , , |  5 Comments

5 replies on “I'm a Researchaholic: An Interview with Joe Finder”

  1. This was an interesting interview. It offered me a little more insight as to the thought processes that Joe goes through in developing the story line…especially the twists and unexpected ocurrances. Very cool!

    Aloha!
    @MerleChloe

  2. Thank you for the interview with Joseph Finder.
    A while back I was looking for a book on tape to accompany me on a driving trip. The book store owner handed me "Paranoia" and said,"Try this guy, I think you'll like him."
    He was right. Mr. Finder has become one of my favorite authors; I gobble up everything he writes and gift and recommend his books to my friends.
    I spent years sprinting across corporate parking lots and misplacing my magnetic ID cards and never once thought there could be anything more sinister going on in the office than someone pilfering my Lean Cuisine out of the lunchroom fridge.(I mean, what's the worst that could happen? Right?)
    Thanks again.
    Dianna

  3. When I first started reading Paranoia, I thought, "You've got to be kidding? A book about a slacker? Where's the drama in that?" And then I was immediately sucked in. Joe is a genius. He's managed to take situations that most of us have been in and make our worst fears real.

Comments are closed.

5 replies on “I'm a Researchaholic: An Interview with Joe Finder”

  1. This was an interesting interview. It offered me a little more insight as to the thought processes that Joe goes through in developing the story line…especially the twists and unexpected ocurrances. Very cool!

    Aloha!
    @MerleChloe

  2. Thank you for the interview with Joseph Finder.
    A while back I was looking for a book on tape to accompany me on a driving trip. The book store owner handed me "Paranoia" and said,"Try this guy, I think you'll like him."
    He was right. Mr. Finder has become one of my favorite authors; I gobble up everything he writes and gift and recommend his books to my friends.
    I spent years sprinting across corporate parking lots and misplacing my magnetic ID cards and never once thought there could be anything more sinister going on in the office than someone pilfering my Lean Cuisine out of the lunchroom fridge.(I mean, what's the worst that could happen? Right?)
    Thanks again.
    Dianna

  3. When I first started reading Paranoia, I thought, "You've got to be kidding? A book about a slacker? Where's the drama in that?" And then I was immediately sucked in. Joe is a genius. He's managed to take situations that most of us have been in and make our worst fears real.

Comments are closed.