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George D. Shuman recommends some books.

Thriller writer George D. Shuman recommends some books, and talks about how his character Sherry Moore isn't a psychic -- even though she can see the last 18 seconds of a person' s life...

READERSVOICE.COM: Your profile on one website said you read a lot of historical fiction, particularly about WW2 and Medieval history. What connects with you about these periods and can you mention a few titles you’ve enjoyed?

GEORGE D. SHUMAN: I always mention le Carre when I’m asked about favorite authors. I read a quote of his this morning from a website I subscribe to… “Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen. – John le Carre. I mean doesn’t that just say it all?

These are writers capable enough to transport you to their world. Read anything by Alan Furst — Blood Victory is a title that comes to mind — and you’ll think you’re in 1938 France. I’m reading David McCullough’s John Adams right now.

RV: Did you read a lot of thrillers before writing 18 Seconds and what were the main features of the genre that you wanted to capture?

GS: Absolutely. I love joining the character’s descent (hopefully fast) into troubled waters … I really like writing locations for some reason. I see stunted twisted trees and branches that drag like cold fingers across the back of one’s neck, black swamps, the sweet stench of roots boiling in a mountain hag’s iron pot.

RV: How important was it for you to add to the genre, like maybe with the scientific rather than paranormal take on the character Sherry Moore’s ability to read the last 18 seconds of someone’s life, combined with the police procedural, or any other innovations?

GS: You know, that is the number one question as far as I’m concerned. I had a lot of angst about writing a psychic into the story.

It was absolutely critical to me that Sherry Moore be a believable entity to me first before I could attempt to sell her to the public. I really wish I could shake the psychic references to her in our ad campaigns, but I guess she requires too much explanation by any other description. Anyhow, I want to qualify Sherry every time I get the opportunity, as a human anomaly between what is known and imagined in the science of memory and how it is stored. My next book, Second Sight, will take that a step farther.

Police procedure comes naturally to me, even though I have long been retired from the profession.

RV: One victim early in the novel was named Koontz. Is Dean Koontz a favorite thriller writer of yours and what are some titles of your favorite thrillers, whether by Koontz or other authors, new or older?

GS: Le Carre, Forsyth, Ludlum, Furst, King, Koontz, Coben, early Patterson, Harris… I don’t like cutsey characters, and I don’t like fluff, not even a page. I like real, believable, get to the point kind of actors.

RV: What was the Thrillerfest Convention like, that you attended in New York in 2007?

GS: Dizzying. I have to say the literary world has been nothing short of welcoming to me.

I have conversations today with people I only once imagined meeting or admired. I’m not really a public kind of person, however; I really don’t like speaking or, better put, I abhor it. I don’t mind signing books, I don’t mind answering questions, but no stages or spotlights for me (I say as I head to Pittsburgh next week to be interviewed on stage). All the conventions and hype seems to contradict what I feel a writer likes most about his or her craft, solitude.

RV: You were due to begin the edits for your fourth novel in January, 2008 (for release September, 2008). Can you talk a bit about the editing process?

GS: I could edit my books until the end of time and never be happy with them, which means that when I get my manuscript back for the first round of edits I’m ready to tear into it without even reading my editor’s notes. I actually cut sixty pages from the manuscript this last time, and eliminated two characters before I bothered to look at what Simon and Schuster thought of it. Fortunately, my editor liked what I did, whew!

RV: Can you give some examples of what you had to research for the Lost Girls novel, and for 18 Seconds?

GS: I research online, in real time for the most part. I do get carried away with research and have to be careful lest it pull me away from the novel for too long.

With Lost Girls I read four books on Haiti and countless hours of internet sources. With 18 Seconds I read about neurological conditions caused by injuries to the brain.

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-copyright Simon Sandall.