My ideas come to me when I am completely relaxed. More often than not, it is in the evening when the children have been put to bed, my wife and I have eaten dinner, and we are sitting down enjoying a nice glass of wine.
In fact, it was during just such an evening that the idea for The First Commandment was born.
With the cliffhanger ending in Takedown, I had purposefully left behind some big questions that needed answering. As Trish and I discussed different potential plots for the next book, she used my trick of looking at something and asking “what if” to raise a great point. She said, “It is the United States” firm position that it never negotiates with terrorists. Well, what if it did – just once?”
It was a terrific idea and my mind exploded with all of the possibilities.
The first thing I did was to investigate whether or not there were any exceptions to the “no negotiating with terrorists” rule. What I uncovered stunned me and became the foundation upon which the new novel was built.
I am always looking for ways to get my characters to “go against type” and do things that they never would see themselves doing. I loved the idea of pitting Harvath and President Rutledge directly against each other. What would have to happen for this to take place? What would make Harvath violate a direct presidential order and by the same token, what could possibly cause the president to issue a contract on the man who had saved both his life and his daughter’s?
Pitting the nation’s number one counterterrorism operative against the president – and having them both believe they are in the right – was an exciting plot path to tread.
A lot of people are just as stunned by the ending of The First Commandment as they were with Takedown. Everyone seems to have the same two questions: What do the items left on the mantelpiece at Bishop’s Gate represent? What has happened to Harvath?
All I can say is that I am going in a very interesting direction with the next novel. Some have even cautioned that it could be extremely dangerous. The one thing that I know is that it will be very exciting, likely very controversial, and more gripping than anything I have ever written.