Q: What’s Lethal Circuit about?
Lars: Backpackers, spies, and saving the world.
Q: Is that it?
Lars: Basically. I suppose the slightly longer answer is that it’s about a backpacker who gets caught up in a global conspiracy while searching for his missing father in China. The protagonist’s life quickly becomes muddled in the world of spies and satellites. So essentially it’s the world of backpacking meets James Bond.
Q: And by backpacking you mean what? Climbing mountains?
Lars: Well there’s some of that, but what I really mean is a college-age traveller, out touring around the world, journeying from country to country. A lot of people do round-the-world trips like that. I think it became popularized in the sixties. Now, wherever you go in the world, you can’t throw a stick without hitting a backpacker.
Q: So what’s the tone of the book?
Lars: I’d call it escapist. It’s a thrill ride. It’s exciting. But it was never meant to be a CIA training manual, or an entry into the World Fact Book. What it is, is good clean escapist fun. If that’s your thing, and you’re not inclined to overthink it, then you’ll enjoy yourself.
Q: How would you describe the pace of the book?
Lars: It’s fast. Hopefully not so fast that it doesn’t slow down long enough to let the readers catch their breath occasionally, but it’s certainly not filled with navel gazing either.
Q: What inspired Lethal Circuit?
Lars: The setting is easy. That came from my own time backpacking in China. In terms of the subject matter, however, the real inspiration is more convoluted. It came from this girl I knew in college. She was a language major and always at the top of her class. After college, she went from being this gregarious party animal to quiet and reclusive. The other thing was that suddenly she had a paycheck. While everyone else was struggling to get by financially, she had money. Rumors flew, some of them a little crazy. Had she become a call girl? A confidential informant? Nope, and I only leaned this later through an unusual series of events, but she’d joined the CIA. She couldn’t tell a soul outside of the Agency, but she was a Company girl now.
Q: Why involve MI6 in this story?
Lars: I wanted Kate, the woman Michael meets, to be familiar to Michael, but not too familiar. She needed to be just far enough outside of Michael’s comfort zone to be interesting. The United Kingdom is just across the Atlantic. Plus, let’s not forget that British women are hot.
Q: Readers have said that Lethal Circuit would make a great movie. Why do you think that is?
Lars: I would say that it’s probably because of the way I think. I attended the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. After that, I worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood. One of the things I learned at film school was how to write in sequences to move the story along. Sequences are basically those little mini-movies within the main movie that push along the story. I think in images. I’ve always been very visual when it comes to what I want to convey. So if the book reads a little like a movie, it probably has something to do with the way I was trained. Plus there are the cultural influences — the Bond movies, Mission Impossible, the Bourne movies, I love them all.
Q: Speaking of the Bond movies and Mission Impossible and the like, one criticism levied against the book is that isn’t entirely believable. How would you respond?
Lars: There are a lot of different kinds of readers out there. Some like escapist fiction. Some don’t. It’s a matter of finding a fit between the reader and the book. James Bond in any of its iterations isn’t exact believable. Neither is Mission Impossible, not even close. But a whole lot of people think they’re great action-adventure stories. And the operative word is story. Lethal Circuit is kind of like that. It’s an action-adventure story. Could every little thing in the story happen in the real world exactly as presented? Perhaps not. But if you accept that you’re reading an action-adventure story, acknowledge the genre, and just go with it, you are guaranteed to have a good time. It’s about leaning back and letting the adventure flow over you. If you like to do that, then you and the book are a good fit, if not, there are a lot of other kinds of fiction out there.
Q: You keep bringing up James Bond and Mission Impossible. Why is that? Don’t you want to be different?
Lars: Sure I do. But I don’t want to reinvent the wheel either. I’m just trying to provide points of reference. Bond is, I believe, the most popular movie franchise of all time, so why in the world would I not bring it up? If you like James Bond, Lethal Circuit should be right up your alley. The same with Jason Bourne, Mission Impossible, or any other action-adventure movie. Like I said before, if you’re willing to suspend disbelief, Michael Chase will bring you on one hell of a ride. But don’t take my word for it. Read the book. You’ll see what I’m talking about.