Q: How is Blown Circuit different from Lethal Circuit?
Lars: For one thing it’s written from the first person perspective. That lets us see more of Michael Chase, the main character. Who is he? What does he want? Why is he on the journey? Not only does the first person provide the reader with more insight into Michael’s character, it lets him speak in his own words. I think that gives the story more depth. Same lightning fast pace, same adventure, but more of a connection to Michael and the journey he’s on, and even more important, how he’s changing as a result of it.
Q: So are you saying the Michael Chase character is evolving? How so?
Lars: For one thing, Michael is getting smarter, better at what he’s doing. As the old saying goes, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. I can’t guarantee that Michael Chase won’t be fooled twice, but I doubt you’d be able to pull the wool over his eyes for a third time. He’s a fast learner. You have to remember, Michael isn’t just out there finding his father and completing his mission. He’s finding his place in the world. That’s what makes him different from some characters in the genre. He’s not world weary yet. He’s still discovering who he is.
Q: That’s all well and good, but there are still those who say that your writing is comic-bookish. What do you have to say for yourself?
Lars: I love comic books.
Q: Is that it?
Lars: I really love comic books? Look, this isn’t Dostoyevsky. This is spy thriller. An action-adventure story. There’s a guy and girl. Bad and good. Shaken not stirred. That kind of thing. If you don’t like this type of book, nothing I can say will ever make you like it, nor should it. But if you’re in the mood for a ripping good yarn, pick it up.
Q: So you’re saying you expect the reader to check their brain at the door?
Lars: I never said that. Since when are a rollicking good story and cognitive functioning mutually exclusive? But since this point obviously deserves further attention, this is where I think the disconnect lies. As I’ve said before, I’m influenced by the movies. I worked in Hollywood. I wrote for television and film. I was a fellow at the American Film Institute. And having done those things, a question often occurs to me — why is it that what is readily believable in one medium is questioned in another? For example, why can the average viewer suspend disbelief and enjoy watching a character leap eighty feet into a watery pool on film, but cry foul if it’s down in a book?
Think about it. It’s not that big a stunt. You’ve seen it in countless action-adventure TV shows, not to mention the movies. Butch and Sundance did it. Johnny Deep does it in Pirates. James Bond takes a hell of a leap in Skyfall. People leap from tall places into tiny bodies of water all the time. So why is that acceptable in a movie, but not on the page?
The short answer is that people find it easier to suspend disbelief in a movie — after all, you’re actually seeing the character do it. Possible or not, it’s happening right before your eyes. Never mind the fact that you know in the back of your head that there are stunt coordinators and wires and green screen and about sixty other visual effects being used to make what you see appear real.
Now in a book, you don’t have all of that offscreen help. If the reader isn’t in the mood, or the material isn’t quite their cup of tea, it’s easier for something to interfere with their suspension of disbelief. At that point they’re not on the ride. And they’re not happy. So, long story short, action-adventure stories require a sort of agreement between the reader and writer — an understanding. You suspend disbelief and I’ll bring you on one glorious ride. Now, I’ll do my best not to abuse your goodwill. I’ll do my research. I’ll try to make things as believable as possible. And in return for a little latitude, I promise to make the story exciting. But it needs to be a ride that you want to take in the first place. So, if you enjoy death defying stunts and fast furious fun, all aboard. If that’s not your thing, then maybe Michael Chase just isn’t for you.
Q: So one last question — where do you think the series is going from here?
Lars: I’m pretty excited about that. I have a really good idea of what’s happening next since I’m working on the third book right now. Basically things are going to get wound up. There are a lot of threads woven into the story that are going to be dealt with. Elements from book one and two will finally fall into place. Will new questions present themselves? Sure. But a lot of lingering questions will be answered as well. Character-wise, the big thing is that Michael really is going to begin to get comfortable in his own skin. Read the book. You’ll see what I mean.