Between the Lines: Thriller writers collaborate in ‘FaceOff’

The concept was inspired: Get together a group of A-list authors – members of the International Thriller Writers association – and pair them into 11 “teams.” Ask each team to write a short story starring the writers’ main characters, and have those characters interact in head-to-head and collaborative ways. The result is “FaceOff,” edited by New York Times best-selling author David Badacci (Simon & Schuster, $27, 320 pages; on sale June 3).

Legal-thriller novelist John Lescroart of Davis was teamed with T. Jefferson Parker of Los Angeles for “Silent Hunt,” featuring their respective protagonists Wyatt Hunt and Joe Trona. The novelists met in 2009 when Lescroart contributed a tale to “Hook, Line and Sinister,” an anthology of mystery stories involving angling.

Parker was the editor.

We checked in with the authors about this unusual assignment and their contributions.

What was it like to collaborate with another author?

“Jeff is truly my favorite thriller writer, so it was a total blast,” Lescroart said. “We had gone fishing together in Baja (in 2011), so we had something in common besides writing. I called Jeff and said, ‘Why don’t we start this (short story project) by going down to Cabo for big game fish on light tackle?’ Down there, we agreed to put (our main characters) where we were, and the story just fell together. We talked about it maybe twice, then sat down and started writing and trading pages back and forth until we had enough to make the story.”

Answering that same question, Parker said, “I know John well, but this was the first time I’d done (a collaboration). It turned out to be a very cool and rewarding experience, like having a conversation with a part of yourself you didn’t quite know. We didn’t have a master plan, it was sort of improvisational. I would finish my section and pass it to John, and later see his take on what I had written and what he had added to it, then I work on it and pass it back to him.”

One more question: Who is the better writer?

Lescroart: “Jeff is. One of the great things about the project was getting to work with him.”

Parker: “John is way better.”

“Silent Hunt” is set in Baja California, where Lescroart’s Hunt, a private investigator from San Francisco, meets Parker’s Trona, a deputy for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Each man is headed there on a fishing vacation, and a chance encounter at Los Angeles International Airport brings them together.

Since they’re both staying at the same fishing lodge near a Mexican village, they decide to buddy-up and fish together. Soon, a group of heavies from the Zetas drug cartel threatens the anglers’ fishing guide, his family and their village. Hunt and Trona come to their rescue with a devilishly clever play that takes everyone out of harm’s way – except for the Zetas.

The other 10 stories are equally as slick, which is no surprise given the talent involved. The teams include longtime friends James Rollins (of El Dorado Hills) and Steve Berry, Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly, Steve Martini and Linda Fairstein, and Jeffery Deaver and John Sandford.

Hardy and Glitsky return

Speaking of Lescroart and Rollins, each has published a new book:

Lescroart’s legal thriller “The Keeper” sees the return of his tried-and-true characters Dismas Hardy and Abe Glitsky, who investigate a case complicated by many puzzling questions – such as, did their client murder his wife? (Atria, $27, 320 pages)

Rollins teamed with veteran writer Grant Blackwood for the first in a new series, spun from Rollins’ “Sigma Force” novels. “The Kill Switch” finds U.S. Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his military dog, Kane, involved in a race to thwart a plan to unleash a “biological threat” on the world (William Morrow, $28, 308 pages).

Maynard here Thursday

Joyce Maynard will appear at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 828 I St., Sacramento, for the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in partnership with the Sacramento Public Library.

Though the free tickets have all been claimed, her newest novel, “After Her,” will be sold for 30 percent off the list price through Thursday at these bookstores: Barnes & Noble; Avid Reader at the Tower in Sacramento; Avid Reader in Davis; Face in a Book in El Dorado Hills; Time Tested Books; Underground Books; Hornet Bookstore at California State University, Sacramento; the UC Davis Bookstore; and the Bookseller in Grass Valley.

Over her career, Maynard has been a journalist for The New York Times, a TV commentator, a nationally syndicated columnist, a writing coach, a college teacher, a familiar name in national magazines, an essayist, memoirist and author of eight novels.

“After Her” is part thriller, part coming-of-age (William Morrow, $14.99, 336 pages). It’s set in 1970s Mill Valley and is based on the case of convicted serial murderer David Carpenter, known as the Trailside Killer. Maynard’s 2009 novel “Labor Day” was released as a movie earlier this year, starring Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet.

Read my Oct. 15, 2013, interview with Maynard. Visit her at

Read on, Alexandria

Online retail merchandiser has announced its yearly list of “Most Well-Read Cities in America,” and we’re surprised Sacramento isn’t on it, though Berkeley comes in at No. 7.

Amazon says its ranking “is determined by compiling sales data of all book, magazine and newspaper sales in both print and Kindle format from April 2013 to April 2014, on a per-capita basis in cities with more than 100,000 residents.” There’s a P.S.: “Looking only at cities with more than 1 million residents, San Diego is the most well-read.”

1. Alexandria, Va.

2. Miami

3. Knoxville

4. Seattle

5. Orlando

6. Ann Arbor, Mich.

7. Berkeley

8. Cambridge

9. Cincinnati

10. Columbia, S.C.

11. St. Louis, Mo.

12. Pittsburgh

13. Vancouver, Wash.

14. Salt Lake City

15. Atlanta

16. Gainesville, Fla.

17. Dayton, Ohio

18. Clearwater, Fla.

19. Richmond, Va.

20. Tallahassee, Fla.

A book about e-books

As the bible of the book industry, Publishers Weekly magazine is well-positioned to publish its own road map for writers on how to get their books into the public eye. “Publishing 101: The Publishers Weekly Introduction to Publishing and Self-Publishing” is a new e-book “that aims to demystify the publishing process.”

In it, Rachel Deahl “offers readers a real-world take on what actually happens on the road to publication, and what writers can expect as they pursue their publishing dreams, either through a traditional publishing deal or via one of many self-publishing options.”

The e-book is $1.99 at, and is “coming soon” to Apple iBooks, Google Play and Kobo.