10 Questions with Derek Haas

My guest today is Derek Haas, author of The Right Hand, an excellent spy thriller that comes out today. Please scroll down to enjoy his interview.

Who is Derek Haas?

DEREK HAAS is the author of THE SILVER BEAR, COLUMBUS, and DARK MEN. Derek also co-wrote the screenplays for 3:10 TO YUMA, WANTED, and THE DOUBLE. He is the creator and editor of popcornfiction.com. Derek lives in Los Angeles.

10 Questions with Derek Haas

1.         Mr. Haas, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. Your new thriller, The Right Hand, comes out today. Tell us a bit more about this work.

The Right Hand is a spy thriller that centers on a CIA officer named Austin Clay… he is the man sent into missions so black, the US will not officially acknowledge nor condone their existence. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Clay is the right hand.

2.         Who is Austin Clay and how did you go about creating his character?

Years ago, Michael Brandt and I flew to DC to interview intelligence officers for a film project. One CIA official told us that in the 80s, he was responsible for carrying around a folder that contained the president’s “executive orders.” I asked what that meant, and he said they were documents the president signed that allowed certain intelligence officers to break the laws of other countries. I always thought that was interesting, and then imagined who that officer might be. I loved the idea of a man who goes into a mission knowing he’s completely on his own, even his own country won’t acknowledge him if he gets in trouble.

3.         What sets The Right Hand apart from countless thrillers featuring CIA agents?

Many spy thrillers get bogged down in excruciatingly minute detail about technology or weaponry or the inner-workings of the CIA. Ludlum, whom I love, will spend 20 pages on how a spy enters a room. I just don’t have that in me. I hope to keep the pace so taut that the reader is forced to keep flipping pages. Clay is a character who doesn’t rely on his fists, or weapons, or gadgets to get what he wants… his offense comes from knowing every detail about his opponents and exploiting their weaknesses.

4.         Why do you write?

These characters listen to me and have to do what I say! My wife won’t do that. My kids won’t either. But here… here, I get to decide everything… who lives, who dies, where they go next, their victories, their defeats, their obstacles, their accomplishments.

5.         A word of advice for new writers?

Travel. Get out of your neighborhood and see some of the world. Everywhere you look are characters and locations and scenes. Listen to the people around you. Pick up their cadences and expressions and rhythms. Note how people start a topic and then stop in the middle of a — Carry a moleskine around and write it all down.

6.         What is your typical writing day?

I keep regular office hours from 10 to 6. I usually work on new pages in the mornings and then review them after lunch. I pretty much write every day.

7.         What are your favorite pastimes?

Playing golf, watching baseball, and doing anything with my family.

8.         What other books are you working on at the moment?

No other books, but Michael and I have a new television show called CHICAGO FIRE that premieres October 10th at 10 PM on NBC. It is taking up most of my time.

9.         What do you like to read and what are you reading now?

I’m not picky… I just like good books. I switch back and forth between contemporary novels and classics. I’m reading REAMDE by Neal Stephenson right now. I’ve never read THE THREE MUSKETEERS so I’m going to read that next. Other books I’ve read this year: A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF, A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING, THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES, BIRDSONG, THE ADJUSTMENT, 11/22/63, THE THIN MAN, BROWN’S REQUIEM.

10.       What can readers expect to find in The Right Hand?

I hope they dig it. I hope it surprises and delights them and they stay up all night reading it because they just can’t put it down.


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