Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes James Hayman.
Hayman is the USA Today bestselling author of the newly released novel The Girl in the Glass (Witness Impulse)—the fourth title in the McCabe/Savage series. A native New Yorker, he graduated from Brown and joined a major New York ad agency, where he eventually served as creative director on accounts that included the US Army, Procter & Gamble, and Lincoln/Mercury. Hayman moved to Portland, Maine in August of 2001 to concentrate on a new career as a fiction writer, and continues to make his home there with his wife, Jeanne.
Praise for The Girl in the Glass:
“The author had me guessing to the end. His plot crafting made me think of Martin Cruz Smith and Scott Turow at their best. Hayman is also skilled at developing rich, fully textured characters, especially McCabe, who is flawed and endearing at once.”—Frank O Smith, Portland Press Herald
From the publisher:
Two identical women.
Two identical murders. Two lives brutally cut short
108 years apart
Aimée Garnier Whitby, a beautiful French artist and wife of one of Maine’s richest and most powerful men, is found near death on the Whitby family’s private summer island, the letter “A” mysteriously carved into her chest.
Veronica Aimée Whitby, the eighteen-year-old descendant and virtual double of the first Aimée, becomes the victim of a near perfect copycat murder. With another beautiful, promising young Whitby woman slain, the media begin to swarm and pressure builds for Mike McCabe and Maggie Savage to bring the killer quickly to justice. But the key to solving Aimée’s death just might have been buried with her beautiful ancestor.
The latest McCabe and Savage thriller from USA Today bestselling author James Hayman is a crackling, twisty novel of suspense, perfect for fans of J.A. Jance and John Sandford.
Now, James Hayman offers readers a view through the looking glass …
Hartford Books Examiner: What inspired the idea for THE GIRL IN THE GLASS – and how do you see this book as representing a progression in the McCabe and Savage Thrillers?
James Hayman: The McCabe/Savage books are set in Portland, Maine, a city with a rich and vibrant seafaring history that is obvious to any visitor. Strolling the cobblestone streets of Portland’s Old Port area, gazing at the 19th century architecture, or walking out on any of the wharfs that line the working waterfront brings that history to life.
Tapping into that history in one of my books is something I’ve always wanted to try. But because the McCabe/Savage series is very 21st century I had to do it in a different way.
Telling the dual stories of a contemporary murder that precisely duplicates the details of the 1904 murder allowed me to scratch that itch.
HBE: The narrative alternates between two time periods – June 1904 and June 2012. What are the challenges of plotting dual storylines – and how do you believe the story benefits from these complexities?
JM: The dual narrative, while challenging, made writing the book much more fun for me and, rather than creating complexities for the reader, I think makes The Girl in the Glass much more exciting to read.
HBE: The book is set against the backdrop of Maine’s coast. How does setting enhance narrative – and in what ways can atmospheric embellishments heighten suspense?
JM: Along with character and plot, most writers consider setting one of the three key elements in any suspense thriller. The Maine coast and Portland in particular with its maritime history provide a nearly unique backdrop for a book like The Girl in the Glass.
Both of the copycat murders in the book take place on a private island three miles off the coast. There are more than three thousand such islands stretching along Maine’s coastline. Indeed some historians have said the name of the state derives from an effort by locals to differentiate the “Maine-land” from the islands.
Most of these islands are like the one depicted in the book. Rocky with high cliffs and surrounded by rough seas, frigid water and very dangerous shorelines. I have made these features an integral part of both murders, but especially the 1904 killing of the first Aimée who we meet on the first page of the book, lying near death at the bottom of a sixty foot metamorphic cliff on her family’s private vacation island.
HBE: Fiction can be a particularly effective vehicle for examining real-life issues. How do you see this book as relevant to topical issues of the day (news media, justice, etc.) – and what do you hope readers might take away from the book beyond entertainment?
JM: All my books have dealt with real life issues. The Cutting grew out of an interest in illegal organ transplants. The ideas behind The Chill of Night were sexual abuse of children and the treatment of the mentally ill. In Darkness First I took on the epidemic of prescription drug abuse, particularly in the poorest and most rural areas of Maine.
The Girl in the Glass examines the very current issue of the vast differences and inequities of wealth and privilege that exist in the United States today and that also existed 108 years ago at the turn of the 20th century.
In my book, it is the attitude of the very rich that they are entitled to completely possess whoever and whatever they want that leads to the tragic deaths of a beautiful young woman named Aimée Whitby in 1904 . And, subsequently, leads the 2012 death of her equally beautiful and equally rich great, great, granddaughter.
HBE: Tell us about Witness Impulse (HarperCollins). Why did you feel that this publisher was right for your brand of books – and how do you see the line as innovative within the genre?
JM: My first two books, The Cutting and The Chill of Night were initially published by St. Martin’s Press as hardcover books selling for roughly $25 each. I was an unknown author, the economy was in deep recession and I think, partly as a result, both books went nowhere.
Enter Harper Collins, who agreed to publish my third book, Darkness First, through their brand new Witness Impulse imprint. Harper created the Witness imprint to take advantage of the fact that roughly two-thirds of the sales of mysteries, thrillers and other so-called genre fiction are in ebook rather than paper formats. The concept behind Witness Impulse is to publish new crime fiction at bargain prices as ebooks first, and then follow up a month or two later with paper versions. I believe Harper was the first (or certainly one of the first) of the majors to explore this formula.
In any case, Darkness First sold extremely well and Witness followed up on this success by re-releasing The Cutting and the Chill of Night, which had had so few readers first time out that they were functionally new books. Second time around both sold very well.
As a writer I get the benefit of a major publisher’s editorial and publicity capabilities as well as generous royalties. So far it has worked well for me and I plan on staying with Witness Impulse at least for the foreseeable future.
HBE: Leave us with a teaser: what comes next?
JM: The fifth book in McCabe/Savage series deals with the very current issue of rape on college campuses. The twists and turns of the plot (and there are many) grow out of the consequences of an alleged gang rape that took place in a small college fraternity house in 2002, twelve years before the action in the book begins.
The initial murder victim is one the alleged rapists, one of four former college football players who supposedly participated in the rape of a seventeen-year-old freshman girl. Is the brutal slaying of this victim retribution for what happened back in college twelve years earlier? Maybe. Or, maybe not. In good crime fiction things are seldom what they seem.
With thanks to James Hayman for his generosity of time and thought and to Lucy Gibson, Assistant Publicist at HarperCollins Publishers, for facilitating this interview.