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By L. Dean Murphy

In Blood Trust, Jack McClure and Alli Carson are back for another adventure in this third installment of the New York Times bestselling series. Last Snow, second in the series, was just released in paperback. Alli Carson has been through her own personal hell. With her father, the U.S. President, recently dead and her mother in a coma from a terrible accident, she has poured herself into training to become one of the best FBI agents at Fearington Institute. Her inspiration and solace come from the only man with whom she has ever felt a kinship, National Security Adviser Jack McClure.

But when Alli becomes the prime suspect in a murder at Fearington, a wide ranging investigation is triggered, involving the secret service, FBI, and Alli’s own uncle, billionaire lobbyist Henry Carson. Still, nothing is what it seems.

Eric Van Lustbader added, “The plot of Blood Trust concerns the trafficking in humans—especially young women. What the novel is about, however, is Alli beginning the process of coming into her own as an adult.” Since his first novel, The Sunset Warrior in 1975, Lustbader has had about 30 bestselling novels.

Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author of the Jack Reacher series, said that anything by “Lustbader is an automatic buy-today-read-tonight.” Bestselling Jeffrey Deaver said, “Rarely have I read a book that grabs you so fast in the opening scene (and, oh, how it grabs!), then keeps up the pace until the very last page.” Publishers Weekly wrote: “Like Robert Ludlum, Lustbader is at his best when he is creating a twisted web of intrigue, violence, double cross.”

Lustbader clued ITW readers in on how characters sometimes control the plot. “When I wrote First Daughter, I envisioned it to be about Jack. By the time I finished, I knew that something fundamental had changed. Alli had become a major character, equal in all ways to Jack. When I told my publisher about the series transformation, she said, ‘I was hoping you were going to go in that direction!’ Looking back, it makes perfect sense. The entire series is about female empowerment: the ways in which our still male-oriented societies conspire to manipulate and contort women to their purpose, and the ways in which intrepid women manage to overcome that disadvantage.”

Real life inspired this series, Lustbader said. “The McClure/Carson series is wholly personal because the two lead characters are based on me and my 25-year-old goddaughter. I am dyslexic, like Jack, and his relationship with Alli mirrors the relationship I have with my goddaughter. Having a series so very personal has been a revelatory experience. I get to explore our relationship in ways I never would have done otherwise.”

He continued about writing inspiration: “I follow the news assiduously. I had seen a number of articles on the growing world-wide problem in human trafficking. It was eye-opening to read about how deeply entrenched in governments the payoffs had become, making it easier for traffickers to move their cargo from country to country.”

True-life cases have been the bases of Lustbader’s plots. “The new Bourne novel, The Bourne Dominion, deals with rare earth metals, which have just now broken into the news because of all their essential applications—especially in green energy initiatives. But they’re also needed for computers, batteries, and sophisticated weapons systems. It’s a problem because China controls 97 percent of the rare earth market, and that presents a real strategic threat.

“For Blood Trust, I again drew on news sources in my reconstruction of the human trafficking network I created in the book. I heard from our guide, when my wife and I were in Rome last year, about Albanians infiltrating Italy. The Italian government was so successful in wiping out the Italian Mafia that they left a vacuum, which the Albanian mob happily filled. When I returned home, I read Half The Sky, a fantastic and horrifying book on the subject of trafficking young women.”

When asked about advice for aspiring writers, Lustbader responded, “I’m always asked this question and I never know what to say. Many people are looking for a magic bullet, some bit of advice that will unlock the secret to writing successfully. There’s no such thing. That being said, I would encourage you to gain inspiration from everything you see, hear, and read. Look for the spark inside you that responds to outside stimuli. Above all, write about what moves you. If you don’t believe in the story you’re writing, no one else will, either. And, lastly, pay close attention to your characters because they are the most important part of your writing.”

Lustbader said of developing a plot, “My stories always end as I have conceived them—well, almost. The death of President Carson, at the end of First Daughter, came as a complete surprise to me! But it had to happen in order to free Alli to become her own person, to cease being the First Daughter.” His outline process “starts out quite detailed, but then becomes sketchier. This is entirely by design. My novels are organic. The way the story moves from point A to B to C is mostly a mystery to me, which is how I like it. If I detailed everything, I’d feel like I’d already written the book, like my characters had no room to maneuver, grow, and surprise me in the trajectories of their arcs.”

Regarding readers’ comments, Lustbader said, “I get letters, and now messages on my Facebook page, from fans all over the world. It’s immensely gratifying to hear from readers from Croatia, Russia, Indonesia, and Syria who have been touched by my novels. But some of the most moving responses came from people who had read First Daughter and, having dyslexic children or being dyslexic themselves, were helped by the techniques Jack learns as a young man to master his dyslexia. These readers had never heard of these techniques and wanted to know more about them. I referred them to the avenues I had discovered in my research.

“The worst thing about dyslexia is the public stigma attached to it. Too often, a child is perceived to be slow, when nothing could be further from the truth. Einstein, Da Vinci and many other notable geniuses throughout history were dyslexic. Their brains see the world in three dimensions, so they have to retrain themselves to see in two dimensions—text, photos, and the like. As a novelist, I’ve strived not only to entertain readers, but also to get them to learn about the world and about themselves. To know that I succeeded in that lofty goal means the world to me.”

As opposed to standalones, Lustbader is “in serious series mode at the moment, and I like it very much because a series allows me to explore characters and grow with them, constantly expanding their world as I do so. I’m always planting plot ideas and/or characters in a current novel that will show up in a larger way in the future. It’s particularly gratifying with Alli Carson, because she’s so young. At 24, she’s got her whole life ahead—so many possibilities for her, and for me! The numerous action set pieces that pepper my novels are a challenge—like figuring out puzzles—because they have to be both exciting and fresh. On the other hand, the psychological clashes between characters offer me the most fulfillment as a writer.”

When asked how much research he encounters with writing thrillers, Lustbader responded: “Thrillers, by definition, are based on real-life news, technological advances, political turmoil, etcetera, so there’s a good degree of research I do that’s ongoing. In other words, I’m always researching both the current novel and those on the horizon. I write two series per year, so I’m always thinking ahead. But, really, this is just the way my brain works. I’m constantly trolling the Web for bits of news that might spark an idea for a new plot line. Also, I have developed an ad hoc network of friends who send me forward-thinking news items that I might use.”


Eric Van Lustbader is the author of almost thirty bestselling thrillers—36 books total—including New York Times bestselling The Testament and The Ninja. His first two Jack McClure books, First Daughter and Last Snow, were also Times bestsellers. Lustbader was chosen by Robert Ludlum’s estate to continue the Jason Bourne series, which includes The Bourne Legacy and The Bourne Objective. Lustbader added, “My sixth Jason Bourne novel, The Bourne Dominion, will be available this July. And I’m about two-thirds through the fourth Jack and Alli book.” He and his wife, Victoria Lustbader, author of Hidden, and Stone Creek, live in New York City and on the South Fork of Long Island.

Dean Murphy
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