Jamie Freveletti with a guest post on writing the Robert Ludlum Covert Ones series.
WRITING FOR A LEGEND: Frightening, Engrossing and Fascinating
My contribution to Robert Ludlum’s Covert One series THE JANUS REPRISAL launched on September 11th, and Mystery Readers asked me to write a post about how it all came about and what it’s like to write for a legendary author like Ludlum. I can tell you, without reservation that it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my writing career so far and one that I hadn’t expected to be offered.
For those who don’t know me, I write a thriller series featuring Emma Caldridge, a chemist and ultramarathon runner who travels the world looking for unique plants and chemicals. The books in my series are: Running From The Devil, Running Dark and The Ninth Day. Emma is a bit like a female Macgyver who’s not afraid to pick up a rocket propelled grenade when she has to, and the books are high concept, with an international plot, a lot of action, and a hero, all of which is not unlike a lot of Ludlum’s novels.
While the Estate of Robert Ludlum’s process hasn’t been revealed to me, I imagine that the representatives must have read my thriller series and liked it. During the time that I was under consideration I already had two books out in print. Running From The Devil and Running Dark. Running From The Devil won two awards; The International Thriller Writers’ award for Best First Novel, and the Barry award, and was nominated for a Macavity award (thanks all!). It was after I accepted the ITW award that I was told that I was in the running to write for Ludlum and the offer was extended after the Barry award.
I remember distinctly the moment that I sat in the hotel bar at the Bouchercon conference in San Francisco discussing writing the next in the series. I tried to act cool, but inside I was thinking constantly about the Ludlum novels that I’d read. Would I be able to come close to his fast paced and engrossing writing style? Was I crazy to accept? And if I did accept and wrote the book, would the fans embrace me?
I accepted, they told me a little bit about the group of characters that Ludlum created as Covert One, and I went upstairs to my room and, unable to wind down, I decided to write something. Amazingly, what I wrote that day survived all of my and my editors’ cuts to become the first Chapter.
The main protagonist, Jon Smith, is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army and a microbiologist with USAMRIID (United States Army Medical Research Institute on Infectious Diseases- a real place) and a stand up guy who’s smart and unafraid. I knew I wanted him in trouble from the moment he opens his eyes and he is. He’s in a hotel that’s under attack by terrorists. Here’s the first line:
Lieutenant Colonel Jon Smith opened his eyes to see a shadowy figure standing at the foot of his hotel room bed pointing a gun at him.
I can only hope I captured some of Ludlum’s fast pace and intricate plots. I also hope that you like novel. It will have a special place on my bookshelf for years to come!
Jamie Freveletti is a trial attorney, martial artist, and runner. She
has crewed for an elite ultra-marathon runner at 50 mile, 100 mile, and
twenty-four hour races across the country, and holds a black belt in
aikido, a Japanese martial art. After law school she lived in Geneva,
Switzerland while obtaining a diploma in International Studies. Back in
Chicago, she represented clients in areas ranging from class actions for
mass salmonella poisoning to securities fraud. Her debut thriller, Running from the Devil,
was chosen as a “Notable Book” by the Independent Booksellers of
America, awarded "Best First Novel" by the International Thriller
Writers, awarded a Barry Award for "Best First Novel" by Deadly
Pleasures Magazine, and nominated for a Macavity Award for "Best First
Mystery" by Mystery Readers International and "Favorite First Novel
of 2009" by Crimespree Magazine. It has been translated into three
languages and was an international bestseller.
Her second novel, Running Dark, released in June, 2010, hit both the Chicagoland and South Florida bestseller lists and won a Lovey award for Best Novel 2010.
The third novel in her series, The Ninth Day released in September, 2011 and was chosen as one of the "Best Thrillers of 2011" by Suspense Magazine.
In January, 2011, she was tapped by the Estate of Robert Ludlum to write the next in the Covert One series. That novel, The Janus Reprisal, was just released on September 11, 2012. The fourth in her series, Dead Asleep will be released on October 30, 2012.
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