By L.J. Sellers
Rick Mofina has been writing about crime—both as a reporter and a novelist—for three decades, and his skill is evident. His thrillers have been highly praised by the best in the business, Michael Connelly, James Patterson, and Tess Gerritsen, to name a few, and his stories have been published in 17 countries with two million books in print.
His latest, THE BURNING EDGE (featuring reporter Jack Gannon) follows a single mother as she witnesses the horrific murder of four men, including an FBI agent, then works with the bureau to find the assassins. Here’s more about story in the author’s own words:
Did you have a specific inspiration to write THE BURNING EDGE? Or is it based on your work as a crime-beat reporter?
Years ago when I was a reporter, I encountered people during the most difficult times in their lives. I’ll never forget talking to victims of a jewelry store heist. One woman told me how she’d laid with her stomach pressed to the floor, her heart hammering as she’d whispered The Lord’s Prayer and prepared to die.
I drew upon that moment for my new thriller THE BURNING EDGE, where we meet Lisa Palmer, a single mom and supermarket cashier. Lisa has barely recovered from the sudden death of her husband when she’s drawn into a new nightmare. After witnessing the murders of three armored car guards and an FBI agent, she becomes the key to finding the killers.
Is your main character, Lisa Palmer, inspired by anyone?
During my later years in high school, I worked part-time as a clerk in a large supermarket. I got to know the cashiers. They all had interesting stories, life experiences. There were things they’d told me about their kids, their husbands, their lives and their dreams. Some faced tragic situations and were struggling to overcome them. All of that inspired the creation of Lisa Palmer. For me it was a way of paying tribute to those women, and hard-working women like them, everywhere.
How much and what kind of research did you do with the FBI to write this novel?
I’d written to the FBI’s New York Field Office, with a request for help. The office was extremely busy but agreed to try to accommodate my request. It was during ThrillerFest when I was in New York City that I set up the appointment to visit 26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan. I had already submitted my questions in advance. At the office, I met with a few agents who made time for me and responded to my questions and my follow-up questions. They also gave me a little tour and were extremely pleasant, professional and helpful.
During other trips to New York I also spent a lot of time on the street talking to people. I befriended a NYPD officer who I stayed in touch with. He was also extremely helpful. There is nothing like face-to-face contact and live, on-the-street research. You just gain so much more.
This story features your recurring reporter Jack Gannon, but you also have a series about another reporter, Jason Wade. How are these characters different and what are the creative advantages of having both?
I have three series actually. The first, a five-book series, features Tom Reed, a reporter with the San Francisco Star who is mid-career and struggling to keep his marriage and family together. Then came the Jason Wade trilogy. Jason is a rookie with the Seattle Mirror, who put himself through college. Then we meet Jack Gannon, blue-collar guy from Buffalo, New York, who realizes his dream to work at a major newswire service based in Manhattan. All three are brothers in the news craft, if you will. I suppose to some extent they are biographical, but really, they’re compilations and fictional creations. They embody all that I know from my reporting days.
I read another interview with you in which you talked about a very scary moment as a crime reporter. Will you tell us about that?
One quiet night I was working alone in the newsroom on the cop beat when a call came in for me. It was a convicted murderer who was calling from prison. From the psych ward. I didn’t know him, but I had written about him. That night he confessed to me how he tricked his way to get access to a telephone because he needed to talk to somebody outside the institution. So, I said, talk. He then went into every detail, every vile, disgusting detail, of how he abducted two young women, then held them hostage in a suburban home. Then he told me exactly how he murdered one but decided to let the other live. He was not remorseful, or even emotional. He just wanted me to have a clear accounting. Then he hung up. My spine rattled for hours after. I had trouble sleeping that night. That’s just one experience from the beat.
What can readers expect next from you?
A stand alone thriller called THEY DISAPPEARED will be released in October, 2012. The story concerns a Montana mechanic’s search for his wife and nine-year-old son who disappeared near Times Square while the family was on vacation.
What have you read lately that you recommend?
TRUE GRIT by Charles Portis. A splendid crime story.
He is a three-time nominee for The International Thriller Writers, thriller award. The Private Eye Writers of America and The Crime Writers of Canada have listed Rick Mofina’s titles as being among the best in the genre.
His books have been published in some 20 countries and have been praised by James Patterson, Dean Koontz, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, Jeffery Deaver, Sandra Brown, James Rollins, Brad Thor, Nick Stone, David Morrell, Allison Brennan, Heather Graham, Linwood Barclay, Peter Robinson, Håkan Nesser and Kay Hooper.
To learn more about Rick, please visit his website.