Tour December 4, 2017 – January 31, 2018
by Jon Land
Published by: Forge Books
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0765384647 (ISBN13: 9780765384645)
Series: Caitlin Strong Novels (Volume 9)
Purchase Links: Amazon ? | Barnes & Noble ? | Goodreads ?| Macmillan ?
1944: Texas Ranger Jim Strong investigates a triple murder inside a Nazi POW camp in Texas.
The Present: His daughter, fifth generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, finds herself pursuing the killer her father never caught in the most personal case of her career a conspiracy stretching from that Nazi POW camp to a modern-day neo-Nazi gang.
A sinister movement has emerged from the shadows of history, determined to undermine the American way of life. Its leader, Armand Fisker, has an army at his disposal, a deadly bio-weapon, and a reputation for being unbeatable. But he s never taken on the likes of Caitlin Strong and her outlaw lover, Cort Wesley Masters.
To prevent an unspeakable cataclysm, Caitlin and Cort Wesley must win a war the world thought was over.
“Strong to the Bone is another fine effort by Jon Land, who manages to mix character development with gripping, page-turning plots. This is his best novel yet.”
How to Continually Develop the Maine Character in a Series
by Jon Land
In a nutshell, it comes down primarily to two things: Emotion and challenge. Each book is a continuing series requires the author to challenge his or her protagonist by motivating them in ways that are as much visceral as visual. Challenging a hero not just with a problem they must solve for the greater good but also, and equally important, challenging that hero on an emotional level by presenting them with a problem they must solve for their own good.
I’ve already talked and written a lot about starting STRONG TO THE BONE with the premise that I wanted to challenge my hero, Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, as I’ve never challenged her before. I wanted to make even dedicated readers feel like they were reading her for the first time. So, jumping off a scourge that’s been in the news so much lately, I decided to make Caitlin a victim of sexual assault.
Early on in STRONG TO THE BONE, we learn for the first time that eighteen years ago, while she was in college, Caitlin was raped. The book opens with Caitlin rescuing another coed who’s been sexually assaulted from a club and it turns out that her attacker is the same man who attacked Caitlin! So Caitlin finally gets a chance to catch the man herself who eluded her all those years before. She gets a chance to slay her particular dragon.
How Cort Wesley Masters, Caitlin’s outlaw boyfriend, deals with this proves crucial to his own character, as well as his relationship with Caitlin. See, the thing I do in this series is age the characters organically instead of leaving them the same age like so many thriller and mystery writers do. I remember reading an interview with the great Robert Parker who said that the biggest mistake he ever made with his brilliant Spenser character was to make him a Korean War vet, meaning he’d now have to be in his eighties.
The emotion in STRONG TO THE BONE and all the books in the Strong series is driven by how Caitlin and Cort Wesley deal with the fact that his sons are growing up. They’re about a year older in every book, and among the greatest book in following this series, no matter where you start, is watching Caitlin and Cort Wesley deal with the personal struggles, conflicts, and crises they’re experiencing. In STRONG TO THE BONE, for example, the actions of his oldest son Dylan is what draws Cort Wesley into the action, specifically against a neo-Nazi gang leader Dylan has run afoul of.
For me, this is a crucial element, since nothing will prevent the continued development of characters than freezing them in time. We see this all the time with series heroes; they never age, never change, never evolve—they’re exactly the same in book #1 of a series as they are in book #2. Robert Parker once famously said that the biggest mistake he ever made in conceiving his Spenser series was making Spenser a Korean War hero. Yet Spenser seems pretty much frozen in age, in spite of the fact that every aficionado of the series knows he must be in his 80s. To me that’s disingenuous to the reader, kind of like cheating. And it’s why when I brought my original series hero, Blaine McCracken, back a few books ago I kept his Vietnam heritage intact and made him 60-years-old. That’s what the great James Lee Burke has done with Detective Dave Robicheaux, and to me it’s the only way to go.
Just as Robicheaux’s daughter Alafair grows up in that seminal series, a comparable family dynamic in the Caitlin Strong series allows me to mine a wealth of scenarios to continually pose fresh challenges with each book. What I’m getting at it that continuing to develop characters from book to book isn’t just about what those characters do; just as much, it’s about how their actions affect them and the consequences that result. So while the structure of how those stories unfold remain pretty much the same from book to book, the emotion bred by what my recurring characters are experiencing are constantly changing and evolving. It’s kind of like using the same roll of wrapping paper every Christmas, even though the present inside the box is always different.
The fun here is that this gives me license to let my characters dictate their emotive response on their own. Like the times when Cort Wesley realizes he and Caitlin are drawn the closest together under the looming potential of violence. Or in STRONG TO THE BONE when Caitlin finds herself conflicted about whether she wants to catch her rapist or not because she’s afraid it may cost her the edge that has long defined her.
The thing readers love the most about thrillers is having no idea what’s going to happen next. And, since I rely on my characters so much, even I don’t know what’s going to happen next. That’s why I enjoy writing the Caitlin Strong books as much as I hope you will enjoy reading them.
Starting with STRONG TO THE BONE!!!!!
Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jon Land. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com gift Card AND 5 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Strong To The Bone by Jon Land. The giveaway begins on December 4 and runs through February 2, 2018.