For those who came here looking for the next segment of Tripping Over Your Corpse: A Writer’s Guide to Forensic Death Investigation, don’t worry…it’ll be up in a few days. For now though, I had the urge to introduce you guys to amazingly talented author. A well known author of a series of books featuring an even better known hero. I am, of course, talking about Rob MacGregor, New York Times bestselling author of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as well as a slew of other Indy novels. Oh, I sense a few ears perking up now! After all, everybody loves Indiana Jones. And if they don’t…well, it is the opinion of this writer that they should have their heads thoroughly examined. Then re-examined just to be sure.
Ah, but I digress. As I was saying, I definitely wanted to introduce you guys to Rob and to tell you about his brand new book DOUBLE HEART (A Will Lansa Mystery), a young adult paranormal mystery that is as fun to read for adults as it is for teens (probably more so!). Hmmm…how to describe Double Heart? Well, perhaps the best way is to let the book’s back cover blurb do all the talking:
A Heart Divided….
Will Lansa figured that spending his senior year in Arizona, on the reservation with his Hopi police chief father, far away from Aspen and his friends—and his wealthy white mother—would be like living in a monastery. Boring, yes, but also a time for cleansing and reflection; a time to experience the culture of his father and grandfather, and reconcile his own divided nature.
Who is Double Heart?
Will’s decision to write about Hopi witches for a high school term paper sets off a chain reaction of violence and murder. A legendary sorcerer, with the power to enslave the minds of others and even transform into a wolf, now seeks to destroy Will, body and soul.
Haunted by visions of tribal Kachina spirits, surrounded by betrayal and death, Will races headlong toward a final confrontation with the malevolent force that has controlled his destiny…a powerful witch, known as…
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Well, I can tell you. It is. I don’t always read the books I feature on this blog, but this one I have and it’s definitely a fun and intriguing story full of twists and paranormal puzzles (almost had a Freudian slip and wrote “muzzles” instead of puzzles…probably because there are wolf-like shapeshifters in this book too!). Basically, if you’re intrigued by mysteries and Native American culture, this book is for you. And as I said, it was written with teenagers in mind (Amazon has the wrong age group listed on the product page, by the way…it’s not for “Ages 9-12”. More like for ages 12 and up really.
By the way, Double Heart is the third book in the Will Lansa series. Prophecy Rock, the first in the series, one an Edgar Award for best mystery, by the way. Oh, but don’t worry, you don’t have to read these books in order. Each book is it’s own story so you can pick up any of the books and not feel left behind.
Anyway, recently, I had a chance to talk with Rob about Double Heart, Indiana Jones, writing, and a whole lot more. Here’s what he had to say:
1) In your own words, tell us a little about Double Heart and the characters we will meet when you read the book.
Double Heart features Will Lansa, who has moved from a privileged life in Aspen to the Hopi reservation where his father is chief of police. When Will decides to write his senior thesis on Hopi witchcraft, he’s warned against pursuing the subject. That makes it even more enticing to him, especially when he uncovers a long-running feud between the Sun Kachina cult and a coven of Hopi witches. The stakes quickly escalate with murders and a kidnapping and Will finds himself the target of a deadly shapeshifter intent on destroying him.
2) How did the idea for Will Lansa come about? What was his inspiration? What are your plans for Will in the future?
I’ve had a long-time interest in the Hopi because of their mystical traditions and have made several trips to the reservation. I wanted to create a realistic character, one who is both outsider and insider. I was influenced by my own experience as an outsider on the inside. During my twenties, I spent four years as an editor of a community newspaper on an urban Indian reservation – Little Earth of the United Tribes – and from that experience I was able to create Will. Sometimes, though, it seems that Will is an independent entity, one who keeps pushing me to tell his story.
Double Heart is the third installment of the Will Lansa story – following Prophecy Rock and Hawk Moon. After this one, Will graduates not only from high school but from the realm of young adult fiction. In the next novel, Time Catcher, Will is a young anthropology professor, who is called back to the rez by his aging grandmother, Vina, who launches him on another adventure into Hopi mystical reality. Time Catcher also comes out this fall.
3) Now, you’re well known for writing officially licensed Indiana Jones books, which are pure adventure fiction. The Will Lansa stories do have adventure in them, but they are more mystery with a paranormal edge to them. You’ve also written tons of non-fiction as well. As far as genres go, do you have a favorite? Why or why not?
I find writing fiction a bit like brain surgery. It’s difficult and has gotten harder as I’ve moved more and more into plots involving magical reality. That’s what interests me. I also write non-fiction self-help books, some with my wife, Trish. Subjects have included: synchronicity, dream interpretation, astrology, yoga, meditation and psychic development.
Non-fiction is less like brain surgery, but still challenging in different ways. Finding a unique approach to a subject is essential. Of course, so is finding a publisher!
4) Speaking of Indiana Jones, can you share a little about your experience authoring several of his books? What is the process like? How does one get a gig writing books for one of the most beloved adventure heroes in the world?
When I wrote seven Indiana Jones novels, I must’ve been in a trance most of the time. I wrote each one in four months. When I finished one, the next was due four months later. George Lucas insisted that the stories involve real legends and actual sacred artifact. So there was considerable research involved – and no Internet at the time. Indy is also a world traveler, requiring more research, but my background as a travel writer in the 1980s helped out.
I was contracted to write the Indiana Jones novels because I was in the right place at the right time. I had just finished two novels based on scripts for an editor at Ballantine Books. One was written under a tight deadline because another novelist had abandoned the project. As a result, I was rewarded with an offer to write a novel based on the script of an upcoming movie called, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. When the novel hit the Times bestseller’s list, I was asked to write a series of original Indiana Jones novels.
Interestingly, neither the editor at Ballantine nor the folks at LucasFilm knew that I had studied anthropology in college and taken several journeys to archaeological sites in Europe, North Africa, and Latin America.
5) In fiction, who are some authors who have had the greatest influence on your writing? Who does Rob MacGregor like to read for pleasure and escape?
6) Besides writing, what else do you do? Hobbies and interests?
I teach three or four yoga classes a week. I also teach a six-week meditation course several times a year. I also enjoy working out in the gym, trail riding on my mountain bike…and a good cup of coffee.
7) If you could only provide ONE piece of advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?
The cynical response would be to keep your day job. However, a better response: write because you enjoy creating a story or writing about a subject. The rest will follow.
Thanks Rob, for such a great interview and for writing some really amazing books! And friends, let’s show Rob some love by going to Amazon and purchasing his new book today (or at least sharing the link with your friends). Here’s the link for Double Heart:
And links to the other Will Lansa novels:
And some Indy novels for your consideration!