In an industry first, Blake Crouch & J.A. Konrath, established writers who have each penned a successful series with huge followings, have come together to conclude their respective series in one volume. In Stirred, Konrath's popular detective, Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels, squares off with Crouch's uber-evil sociopath, Luther Kite, and, by book's end, each character meets their respective fate.
Catwalk recently had a chance to chat with both authors regarding this unprecedented send off of their much-beloved creations.
Thanks for inviting me to once again share your work with our readers. I know supporting the book is keeping you incredibly busy, so we’ll keep this brief. First, I came to Stirred having read all of the Jack novels (and many of the short stories). I’m leaving Stirred thinking I will go back and buy all the Andrew Z. Thomas books. Is that part of the goal with this collaboration?
Blake Crouch: Absolutely...we're trying to create a comics-style universe, basically interlinking nearly 2,000,000 million words over numerous stories and novels. So far, people really seem to love what we're doing.
J.A. Konrath: When I like an author, I try to find everything they've ever written, and I dig it when later works reference earlier works. We wrote Stirred as a love letter to our longtime fans, while also trying to find new fans.
I’ve read Draculas, Killers, and Run from Blake. I love the level of detail and the frantic pace. I know I’d be asking for a look behind the curtain, but what can you tell our readers about Andrew Z. Thomas? Please tell me he’s not really Jack Kilborn; that guy has been to my house!
BC: Ha! No, he's just a figment of my imagination....he was actually created back in 1999 in a creative writing class. He's still, probably to this day, the most important character I've created, because he's spawned so much material. He's essentially a horror/crime writer, like me and Joe, but with a truly dark side underneath that lands him in more than a little trouble.
JK: I love the Thomas character because he's so dynamic. I can't think of many series characters that have such a wide arc.
The build-up for Stirred was a finale’ for two big-time rivals, but this wasn’t some giant WWF cage match. There were lots of other faces; good and bad, who contributed to the final product. In movies, this tends to ruin a film. Think of the later Batman movies or Spider Man 3, where too many crooks ruin the cooking. How did you avoid that in Stirred?
BC: Well, we came at Stirred not simply as a vehicle to bring all our characters together, but first and foremost as a kickass idea for a book. But we had started the arcs of all of these characters in prior books and novellas and stories, and so the way they all came together in Stirred just made sense. We didn't have to force anything there, because the groundwork had already been laid.
JK: Stirred is over 100,000 words, so we had a lot of space to fit them in. I think the way we introduced characters was organic and compelling, even for readers who didn't recognize them from previous titles.
You guys worked in one-of-a-kind literary works from Dante’s Inferno to Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. You reference Koontz, King, and others. Was this part of a mass tribute, or a call out to the many influences you’ve shared throughout your careers?
BC: Both. We're a country obsessed with pop culture, and it can't help but to worm its way in to a book like Stirred.
JK: If it serves the plot, we use it.
Knowing that this was IT…the finale’, the conclusion, the end of the road, put a tangible fear in readers who have grown to love the main and the supporting characters. Did you know in advance who was going to make it out alive, who wasn’t, or did the writing process really force some inevitable paths you hadn’t planned on?
BC: I think we had a pretty good idea going in what the final damage would be to our characters. That being said, and without ruining anything, we did make some last minute changes. The truth is...we have a hard time killing characters we love, even the bad ones.
JK: Blake called me last year and said he had an idea that involved a huge twist involving a central character, and when the shock wore off I knew we had to take that route. I have no problem with killing longtime characters; I've done so before. But I think fans of both our series are going to be very surprised.
Okay, I was given a five-question limit, since both of these fantastic writers are busy trying to answer all the questions stemming from this compelling, chilling novel. Thank you to both Blake Crouch and J.A.Konrath for their amazing dedication to their work, and for entertaining us for years. We can’t wait to see what’s up next for each of these very talented authors.