By Ethan Cross
Hailed as “a suspense master” by Stephen King, Linwood Barclay now reveals the dark side of a small town—and the even darker secrets that hide there.
It’s been two months since private investigator Cal Weaver’s teenage son Scott died in a tragic accident. Ever since, he and his wife have drifted apart, fracturing a once normal life. Cal is mired in grief, a grief he can’t move past. And maybe his grief has clouded his judgment. Because driving home one night, he makes his first big mistake.
A girl drenched in rain taps on his car window and asks for a ride as he sits at a stoplight. Even though he knows a fortysomething man picking up a teenage hitchhiker is a fool, he lets her in. She’s the same age as Scott, and maybe she can help Cal find the dealer who sold his son the drugs that killed him. After a brief stop at a roadside diner, Cal senses that something’s not right with the girl or the situation. But it’s too late. He’s already involved.
Now Cal is drawn into a nightmare of pain and suspicion. Something is horribly wrong in the small town of Griffon in upstate New York. There are too many secrets there, too many lies and cover-ups. And Cal has decided to expose those secrets one by one.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I actually tend to get restless and not know what to do with myself. My wife thinks things are better all round when I’m writing. But I love movies, consuming TV series in a huge gulp on DVD or online, reading, and I’m a model train nut. In more recent years, I’ve tried to find more balance, so I’m doing a lot of things after I’ve stopped writing for the day.
As a reader, what are some of your personal pet-peeves? In other words, what’s your list of writing dos and don’ts?
Don’t have characters talk like they know they’re in a novel. Have them talk the way people talk. Don’t go overboard with description because I may skip it anyway (unless you’re James Lee Burke, and I will read every word of it). Don’t throw away great moments in a story in a line or two, in the middle of a chapter.
What kind of research did you conduct for A TAP ON THE WINDOW?
As little as possible.
What are you reading now? What are some of your favorite books/authors and who has had the greatest influence upon your own work?
I am reading the aforementioned James Lee Burke’s new novel, LIGHT OF THE WORLD, right now. Waiting for me on the bedside table: LITTLE GREEN by Walter Mosley, THE SHINING by Stephen King (want to reread before the sequel, DOCTOR SLEEP, comes out this fall), STANDING IN ANOTHER MAN’S GRAVE by Ian Rankin. And many more. No author had a greater influence on me when I was growing up than Ross Macdonald, who wrote the Lew Archer series of detective novels.
What’s something that you’ve learned about the publishing business that you weren’t expecting?
I did not realize that becoming an author would afford me the opportunity to experience humiliation in ways I did not know existed. Anyone who has done a book event where no one turned up knows what I am talking about.
Do you have any advice for aspiring (or struggling) writers out there?
Keep at it. I wrote three or more books by the time I was in my mid-twenties, but my first novel wasn’t published until I was 49. That might be enough to discourage someone, but it’s not intended that way. You just have to keep plugging away.
Linwood Barclay is the #1 international bestselling author of ten critically acclaimed novels, including TRUST YOUR EYES, which has been optioned for film, and NO TIME FOR GOODBYE. He lives near Toronto with his wife and has two grown children.
To learn more about Linwood, please visit his website.