by KJ Howe
It’s my pleasure to welcome thriller author Jason Starr to the lair. Jason is here to share details about his fascinating new novel, THE FOLLOWER, a story about dating gone wrong. Has he landed on the right blog or what? Okay, Jason, take it away!
HOW CHEESEY IS TOO CHEESEY?
“Every guy stalks his first girlfriend.”
A writer friend of mine had this comment after reading my novel Tough Luck, in which a young man has an obsessive relationship with this “first love.” My friend was exaggerating, of course, but I think there was some truth to the observation. I think when people are young and inexperienced with dating, they don’t really know how to behave yet. They can easily misjudge situations and miss signals, and they don’t know how to handle rejection. Most people don’t become actual stalkers, but they may get obsessive and go overboard to try to impress their dates.
For me, the most enjoyable part of writing a suspense fiction is exploring that “what if?” factor. I love taking normal situations that everyone can identify with, and then pushing them to the extreme. In THE FOLLOWER I tackled the darker side of romantic love head-on. Katie Porter has moved to New York after graduating from Wesleyan her life is consumed by work and dating. She has a job she hates and boyfriend she’s not sure she really likes. Then—apparently by chance—she runs into a guy from her past, Peter Wells. Initially she sees him as a friend and confidant, but he sees her as much more.
THE FOLLOWER is written in a very close third-person style. I wanted to get into the heads of each character to create suspense, but I also wanted to explore how men and women often have such widely divergent perceptions of the same events, and how easily they can misinterpret each other’s motives. Peter, for example, considers himself to be a great romantic. He’s obsessed with Jane Austen—he knows the film versions of Pride and Prejudice practically by heart and he practices “the Mr. Darcy look” in the mirror every day. He also likes to, well, pleasure himself while watching the BBC version of the film. In addition, he has seen just about every cheesy romantic comedy, and part of his delusion is that he envisions himself as a lead actor in these films. Katie, meanwhile, has a completely different impression of Peter. She sees him as a nice guy, but kind of awkward, and she doesn’t understand why he’s going so overboard to impress her.
One of the pivotal scenes is Peter and Katie’s first date. Well, at least it’s a date as far as Peter is concerned. Determined to sweep Katie away, he’s gotten the best flowers, the best wine, and the best gourmet food for their picnic in Central Park. But from Katie’s point of view the date is a total train wreck and for the first time she starts to suspect that something is seriously off about this guy.
While I’ve never gone as far as Peter does to impress a date, I’ve been guilty of the occasional excessive dinner or excessive gift (it never seemed to work). What’s the most overboard thing someone has ever done to try to impress you on a date, and was it successful? And what’s the most overboard thing that you’ve done to impress someone else?
KJ back…great questions, Jason. I once had a guy sing “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” to my voice mail because I didn’t want to go out with him after one date. Definitely creeped me out, so I’d say it was a losing proposition for him. I can’t wait to hear about everyone else’s experiences.
JASON STARR is the Barry and Anthony Award-winning nine crime novels which have been published in ten languages. His latest thriller from St. Martin’s Press, THE FOLLOWER, is on-sale this week in a new mass market paperback edition. Visit http://www.jasonstarr.com/ and sign up for Jason Starr’s newsletter for a chance to win a 50-dollar Amazon gift certificate, and other exciting prizes. Newsletter subscribers will also be eligible to win free advance copies of Jason Starr’s next thriller PANIC ATTACK, which will be on-sale in August, 2009.