Today is the official release date of DOUBLE HEART, which is available in print or digital. The publisher is sending out an interview to media outlets including blogs. So it only makes sense that it should appear here first. Here’s the Q&A.
1) In your own words, Rob, tell us a little about Double Heart and the characters we will meet when you read the book.
Double Heart features Will Lansa, who has moved from a privileged life in Aspen to the Hopi reservation where his father is chief of police. When Will decides to write his senior thesis on Hopi witchcraft, he’s warned against pursuing the subject. That makes it even more enticing to him, especially when he uncovers a long-running feud between the Sun Kachina cult and a coven of Hopi witches. The stakes quickly escalate with murders and a kidnapping and Will finds himself the target of a deadly shapeshifter intent on destroying him.
2) How did the idea for Will Lansa come about? What was his inspiration? What are your plans for Will in the future?
I’ve had a long-time interest in the Hopi because of their mystical traditions and have made several trips to the reservation. I wanted to create a realistic character, one who is both outsider and insider. I was influenced by my own experience as an outsider on the inside. During my twenties, I spent four years as an editor of a community newspaper on an urban Indian reservation – Little Earth of the United Tribes – and from that experience I was able to create Will. Sometimes, though, it seems that Will is an independent entity, one who keeps pushing me to tell his story.
Double Heart is the third installment of the Will Lansa story – following Prophecy Rock and Hawk Moon. After this one, Will graduates not only from high school but from the realm of young adult fiction. In the next novel, Time Catcher, Will is a young anthropology professor, who is called back to the rez by his aging grandmother, Vina, who launches him on another adventure into Hopi mystical reality. Time Catcher also comes out this fall.
3) Now, you’re well known for writing officially licensed Indiana Jones books, which are pure adventure fiction. The Will Lansa stories do have adventure in them, but they are more mystery with a paranormal edge to them. You’ve also written tons of non-fiction as well. As far as genres go, do you have a favorite? Why or why not?
I find writing fiction a bit like brain surgery. It’s difficult and has gotten harder as I’ve moved more and more into plots involving magical reality. That’s what interests me. I also write non-fiction self-help books, some with my wife, Trish. Subjects have included: synchronicity, dream interpretation, astrology, yoga, meditation and psychic development.
Non-fiction is less like brain surgery, but still challenging in different ways. Finding a unique approach to a subject is essential. Of course, so is finding a publisher!
4) Speaking of Indiana Jones, can you share a little about your experience authoring several of his books? What is the process like? How does one get a gig writing books for one of the most beloved adventure heroes in the world?
When I wrote seven Indiana Jones novels, I must’ve been in a trance most of the time. I wrote each one in four months. When I finished one, the next was due four months later. George Lucas insisted that the stories involve real legends and actual sacred artifact. So there was considerable research involved – and no Internet at the time. Indy is also a world traveler, requiring more research, but my background as a travel writer in the 1980s helped out.
I was contracted to write the Indiana Jones novels because I was in the right place at the right time. I had just finished two novels based on scripts for an editor at Ballantine Books. One was written under a tight deadline because another novelist had abandoned the project. As a result, I was rewarded with an offer to write a novel based on the script of an upcoming movie called, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. When the novel hit the Times bestseller’s list, I was asked to write a series of original Indiana Jones novels.
Interestingly, neither the editor at Ballantine nor the folks at LucasFilm knew that I had studied anthropology in college and taken several journeys to archaeological sites in Europe, North Africa, and Latin America.
5) In fiction, who are some authors who have had the greatest influence on your writing? Who does Rob MacGregor like to read for pleasure and escape?
Although they are not categorized as fiction, the stories from my youth that greatly influenced my perspective and writing were the first four books by Carlos Castenada. There are many others, of course, but that’s what pops into my mind at this moment. As far as reading fiction for pleasure, that’s a challenge because I’m always analyzing stories. It’s pleasure, but it’s also work. I recently enjoyed the Stieg Larsson novels. Lisbeth Salander is one of the most memorable characters I’ve ever encountered in fiction. I’m currently reading The Hunger Games novels, a 3-part YA series, mostly out of curiosity about how a novelist makes more than $20 million in one year. I haven’t found the answer yet.
6) Besides writing, what else do you do? Hobbies and interests?
I teach three or four yoga classes a week. I also teach a six-week meditation course several times a year. I also enjoy working out in the gym, trail riding on my mountain bike…and a good cup of coffee.
7) If you could only provide ONE piece of advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?
The cynical response would be to keep your day job. However, a better response: write because you enjoy telling a story or writing about a subject. The rest will follow.