Track Three by John Gibson
By Dan Levy
As it happens with many writers, author John Gibson’s love of thrillers began during a childhood spent soaking in the great spy stories and other thriller genres that made their way onto television screens and into movie theaters.
“And then Watergate happened and I was completely and hopelessly stuck,” said Gibson. “Everyday after school, while my buddies were out playing basketball, I sat at the television, enthralled by the entire break-in scandal. I began to read thrillers that dealt with politics because of Watergate.”
In the forty-plus years since Watergate, Gibson, in addition to a successful engineering career at Kodak, went from reading political thrillers to writing them. His second, TRACK THREE, is due to be released on December 15, 2015. We wanted to learn more about Gibson’s latest offering. Due to scheduling conflicts, The Big Thrill was unable to conduct an in person interview with Gibson to meet our deadline. However, below are excerpts from an interview (edited for length) conducted via email.
TRACK THREE is your second published novel. Is that part of a series or are the two novels independent?
No, not a series. I seem to exert so much to write my books that when I’m finished, I really feel I have nothing else to give. I have no more fire to write about those same characters. I write from a loose outline, but my stories seem to move where they want to move. When they are done they are done and there is really not much more for me to give.
With all your time spent in the tech industry, it feels like it would be a natural, and perhaps easier, transition to write tech thrillers. Why write in the political-thriller sub-genre?
Engineering was something that I kind of fell into. I had a home and family to provide for and at Kodak I fell into working in the digital imaging area, microelectronics. It really was a fascinating engineering area to work in, simply fascinating, otherworld kind-of stuff all conducted under microscopes. But engineering, even microelectronics, did not provide the passion that my soul demanded. Only writing did (does) that for me.
Talk a bit about your protagonist, reporter Elliott Lawder. What made him a compelling character to you?
I like Elliott because even though professionally he is at the top of his game, his personal life, though not totally going down the drain, is well on its way. He is real, hard working but flawed. [He is] nearing alcoholism, [and in a] terrible family situation with his father mired in Alzheimer’s, his mother old and incapacitated and an older brother that truly despises him. But the two worlds, his professional life and his personal life are totally separate.
What do you like most about Elliott Lawder? What surprised you about him as he came to life on the page?
Elliott’s authenticity, to have risen to the heights of his profession without being portrayed as superhuman is very endearing to me. Also, dealing with the pain of his personal life and still performing in his professional life is something that I found admirable. I don’t think there is much about Elliott that surprised me.
Is there a scene or chapter in TRACK THREE that is a favorite or that is especially meaningful to you? Why?
The Tarzan Chapter is near and dear because most of what takes place I actually lived as a boy; this really did happen. The Tarzan chapter is about boys [Elliott and his older brother] nearing puberty getting talked into swinging from a rope tied to a tree. Bad thing happens [and] this scene explains a lot about Elliott’s rocky relationship with his brother.
While I don’t want to overlook TRACK THREE, what do your fans have to look forward to in your next book? Can you give us a little insight?
I’m working on a story that is a bit of departure from Dummy (Gibson’s debut novel) and TRACK THREE. It is about a guy who goes from being an actual bum to owning a conglomerate, but with many, many problems with every one of his family members.
What’s one piece of advice that has served you well since you started writing? Is it the same advice you’d give to aspiring authors today?
I think advice today is different than it would have been fifteen years ago. Then, I think I would have just told them “Write!” Now there is so much more after the writing that influences the writing experience. I don’t particularly like that part of it, but it’s the reality now. I guess what I would tell them today is not all that much different, though—Don’t think about the other stuff you have to do to get read. Deal with the other stuff in its own time; just have something for someone to read. And write it as best you can.