Sometimes, Fortune smiles down, and early this summer, she smiled on us. Holmes and I were driving along a pristine mountain road, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, when a movement caught our attention. It seemed to be a man, trussed up like a Christmas goose and wriggling about in the ditch. Half dazed, he was muttering something about a crazy blonde woman . . . Kristen Lamb, I think it was . . . and a white van. We helped him up and took him home. And, as Fortune would have it, that man was none other than New York Times bestselling author, James Rollins.
James Rollins is the author of seven Sigma Force novels, as well as the novelization of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and the Jake Ransom YA series. He is known for high adventure drawn from his extensive and accurate knowledge of science, technology, and history. He is also a veterinarian who regularly contributes his time to his local clinic to spay and neuter animals.
He was so grateful for our help that he agreed to an interview here on our blog. . . .
James Rollins in the woods near the site where we found him.
Good to see you, Dr. Rollins. Thank you for visiting our blog today. I appreciate your cooperation with the handcuffs and the blindfold. I’m sure, as the author of the Sigma Force series, you understand we can’t be too careful about people tracking us to our blog.
Please. Have a seat in the steel chair while I turn on the light. . . . Too bright for you? Oh, you’ll get used to it. . . . No. That burly fellow by the board and bucket isn’t the mysterious Holmes. Holmes leaves the
interrogations interviews to me. That’s my assistant, Rolf.
Rolf, you may go now. I’m sure Dr. Rollins won’t be any trouble, will you, now, Dr. Rollins? . . . Just leave that can of RedBull, Rolf, and fill the bucket with water on your way out.
Now, Dr. Rollins. Thank you, again, for being here with us today. . . . You seem to be shivering. What a shame we don’t have a sweater for you. We’ll just get on with the questioning, then.
What was the inciting incident in your own life that inspired your commitment to writing novels?
I don’t know if there was one defining moment, but more a series of ones: my mom loved to read and instilled it in us kids; reading a lot made me want to write; and finally I figured if I’m ever going to write, I’d better stop dreaming about it and do it. So I wrote a bunch of short stories that are now safely buried in my backyard and hopefully will never see the light of day—then one day I felt secure enough to tackle the bulk of a whole novel.
*crosses to intercom* Rolf. Send a team to Dr. Rollins’ backyard.
So tell me, Dr. Rollins, when did you first realize you had become a celebrity?
Celebrity? Me? I don’t think I’ve reached that status yet. When I get involved in a blog war with Paris Hilton (or Perez Hilton, I have trouble telling them apart), then I’ll know I’m a true celebrity.
That is a common issue with those two. Being able to tell them apart, that is. . . . Recently, you mentioned that you’re working on a book with your friend and fellow New York Times bestselling author, Steve Berry. When you two work together, what is the division of labor? In other words, how does this arrangement work in a practical sense?
It’s actually a short story, and as we’ve not officially begun that process, I can’t say how that will work out. I’m thinking we’ll end up on some dueling range with pistols at dawn over some trivial bit (a name of a character; the color of the hero’s shirt, etc.). Whoever wins that duel will get top billing.
I certainly hope you sell tickets to that duel. I have a lovely Sig Sauer you’re welcome to borrow if you need it.
Now, do you actually travel to all of the places in your books? If not, what sorts of things do you do to research those places?
I travel to about 65-70% of the places that I write about. But I seldom travel for research. I simply travel for the pleasure of it, gather notes, take pictures, and ask weird questions of locals (“What’s a strange story no one knows about this place?”). Then I shelve it all away until my characters cross that territory. For those places that I don’t travel, my research is a combination of Internet searches, digging through stacks at libraries, and doing interviews. Of the two ways, I prefer the traveling.
When you travel, do you pack more like a commando on a mission or a barfly on a one night stand? In other words, are you the guy passing out the sunscreen, or the one borrowing it?
I pack pretty light. I hate checking luggage. I did a two week book tour with only a carry-on bag.
*Note to self: Bring extra sunscreen for James Rollins at DFW Writers Conference 2012.*
One of your Sigma Force protagonists, Painter Crowe, is a Native American. What inspired you to write a Native American main character into your books?
For too long, the main characters of action adventures were all Caucasian—and male. I wanted to stomp all over that stereotype by creating a team that is as diverse as real life, where the women are not regulated to the role of arm candy for the hero or the damsel in distress who needs rescuing.
I certainly appreciate that about your Sigma Force books, and on behalf of women and my small percentage of Native American ancestors, thank you.
Pardon me a moment. *crosses to intercom* Rolf. Bring in the Love Pooch.
Daisy, The Love Pooch
Dr. Rollins, my dog, Daisy, is a big fan of yours. She’ll be questioning you now for a bit. . . . What? The RedBull? Perhaps after the interview, if you give us enough information.
Hi Dr. Rollins. *lick, lick, wag, wag* It’s so nice to meet you. You seem like a nice writer vet. The vet my pet human takes me to is nice, too, but he gets too personal with me. You’re not going to get personal with me, are you?
Well, it depends on the presenting complaint of the client. Sometimes there’s no way NOT to get up close and personal.
I love meeting writers who get it. Writers who understand that dog readership is a driving force in today’s market. Would you please explain the benefits of having animals in books?
As a veterinarian, I simply enjoy folding them into the story. I knew from third-grade that I wanted to be a vet, and though I only do volunteer work with my vet degree, that passion still runs strong. So animals keep creeping in on silent paws into my books. Also, I think an animal is a great way to personalize and characterize the men and women in a story. Are they a cat person or a dog person? Can they ride a horse? What type of dog or cat do they have? These details can really make a significant difference in how a reader views a character.
I know they certainly matter to me and to my pet human.
There’s been lots of news about Cairo, the war dog who took down Bin Laden. (Sincere thanks to Cairo’s pilots and assistants.) War dogs are really hot, the way they sky dive and save their pet humans from bombs. Have you ever considered adding a war dog to the Sigma Force team?
In fact, that’s coming up in my very next book: Tucker Wayne and his canine partner, Kane. They are an incredible team.
Oh! That’s so exciting! Do you know any war dogs you could introduce to me?
Well, Daisy, Kane is not spoken for at this moment—but first he needs to survive his first Sigma adventure. Then we’ll talk…maybe over biscuits and a rawhide bone.
That would be lovely. I love biscuits and rawhide bones and war dogs and nice writer vets. Especially all in the same place.
I loved your new novel, The Devil Colony, too. For those who don’t know, it’s about a brave dog named Kawtch who flies in helicopters and goes spelunking and saves the world from total apocalypse with a little help from a few minor characters. He’s like a war dog. Does he have a mate? And does he like tall girls?
Unfortunately, Kawtch has his eye on a cute golden retriever. He has a thing for redheads.
Oh. . . . Do they need a maid?
That’s not appropriate, Daisy. Rolf, you may take Daisy back, now.
Dr. Rollins, many people, myself included, are already looking forward to your next Sigma Force novel. Is there anything you can share with us about it?
Well, I think I’ve given a small hint about a new character. As to the rest, that’s still tightly under wraps—except in this next book, Sigma goes head-to-toe with the true leaders of the Guild. And only one group will be left standing afterward. And how that all ends is a shocker.
Ah. Now, that’s the answer that gets you the RedBull.
Thank you so much for your time here today. I do apologize, but we’ll need to put you back in the handcuffs and blindfold as we leave. You can take them off when we push you out of the plane over your house. Just count to ten and pull the cord for the chute. You’ll be fine.
James Rollins is now safely back in his writing cave once more until at least December. You can find his bestselling books at his James Rollins website, on Amazon, or at Barnes & Noble.
Thank you, again, James Rollins, for your time, and for being such a good sport about the chute getting tangled up. It was an honor to have you visit.
Any questions or comments?
Piper Bayard–The Pale Writer of the Apocalypse
Holmes–Student of Sex, C4, and Hollow Points
Great interviewer and interviewee.
Also, I couldn’t help by picture the piano playing dog from the Muppets when you mentioned Rolf. I don’t think that is the image you were going for, but it did add a whole new element to the interview. 🙂
Lol. No. That’s not what I had in mind, but that’s ok. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
Interesting stuff and a nice style, Piper, though the whole kidnapping thing might take a little explaining on those tricky “questions for the presidential candidates” shows. Still, you returned him in one piece, even if it was wrapped up in parachute cord. Interesting that James is writing a book with Steve Berry. I mean, how do you do that?
Did you mention to Daisy that in between spelunking, Kawtch got shot in the leg? Adds to the whole war dog mystique!
Poor Dr. Rollins. I am not sure being rescued by Piper and Holmes is a blessing. Great interview, though. I loved learning more about you. Your method of researching location matches mine. LOL 😀
Lol. To our credit, we did get him home safely. Eventually. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
I love how Rollins asks interesting questions on his travels, that seems to be the best way to get the true flavor of the area, plus you get to hear all the fun stories!
What a great interview.
Isn’t that a great idea? I’m going to start doing that, too. Thanks for your comment.
Great interview, Piper & James! I’m really looking forward to meeting both of you at DFWcon 2012!!
That will be a hoot! Just told the family last night that I will be clocking out for that week no matter what. Thanks for stopping by.
Great interview! Glad that our dear Dr Rollins has been safely returned. Wouldn’t want that next Sigma novel delayed any. 😀
I love animal characters in stories. Looking forward to more of those in the next Sigma novel and excited about the new characters too. Yay!
I’m excited about Kane, the war dog, too. Those dogs are truly amazing. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 🙂
What did you find in his backyard???? 🙂 Anything usable?
Great inteview. Very entertaining!
Lol. The manuscripts collected from Dr. Rollins’ yard are still being examined at the moment. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Too funny! I have dibs on the backyard goodies! Have an eBay account already set up :D.
Cool! I’ll let you know as soon as our analysis team has them prettied up. Thanks for your support, Kristen. You rock! 🙂
Great interview! Love James and this helps to highlight what a fantastic guy he is. Glad to see him safely back in his writing cave (working on the future NYT #1 no doubt) 🙂
You know, you really couldn’t hope to meet a nicer fellow than James Rollins. The fact that he took time out to let little old Holmes and I take him to our remote blog hideout sort of speaks volumes. Thanks for stopping by, Gene.
Without a doubt, the best, most entertaining, and informative interview I’ve read. Well done, But what did the blond have to do with him being in the ditch? Grin.
Thank you, Marion. I’m flattered. As for the blond, Kristen Lamb kidnapped Jim in her white van for an interview back in the spring. We found him where she left him. 🙂
Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, Marion. Wishing you a productive shopping day at the book store.
Forgot to say, I’m heading to the book store. Can’t wait to read his novels.
Very entertaining Piper. I have The Devil Colony on my sideboard to read next, I didn’t know it was about dogs, maybe Sandy should read it too 😉
I highly recommend it for dogs. I mean, we let them sleep in our rooms with us. Why not read them our books? Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Catherine. 🙂
As Veterinarians go he looks a bit dangerous.
I think Jim was a bit wary by the time we pushed him out of the plane, but he totally checks out with Daisy. Dogs know these things. 🙂
Nice. I’m taking notes on how to make interviews better…
Flattered, Lance. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
I will have to remember to check the road side for authors next time I would like an interview. He was so candid and relaxed after being trussed. You must have a calming effect Piper!
I’ve been told I do. It’s my voice. I was actually known as “The Voice” at a company I once worked for. And no, it wasn’t 1-900 numbers. But that’s a blog for another day. Isn’t James Rollins the best sport ever? Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Piper, you’re the only person who is probably sweet enough to kidnap someone and politely interview them. I bet he didn’t even press charges. Fun interview.
Thanks, Clay. I appreciate the compliment. To be honest, it was Daisy who talked him out of pursuing any legal actions. She’s such a Love Pooch he couldn’t say no to her. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
This was fantastic, thank you so much for this. Made my day!
Thank you for the compliment and for stopping by. 🙂
Just read the James Rollins tweet about the interview and stopped by your blog. What a nice way to interview a writer! Hope he´s ok now, cause, here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we do love his books.
I only can´t help to ask: what about cats? Don´t you think we, cat lovers (I have two), deserve to read about our little friends helping people or just being there and making us happy? Think about it…
Ooo. War cats. Actually, there was an attempt during the Cold War to surgically implant transmitters into cats’ tails. The prototype cat was turned loose in enemy territory and almost immediately hit by a car. It died. Very sad. Put an end to that program. But if there’s anyone who can revive the War Cats idea, I’m sure it’s James Rollins. Nice to meet you, Lilia. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.
Just one word. Awesome. Great interview by the way!
Thank you for the compliment, and thanks for stopping by. 🙂
Awesome!! James Rollins has been my favorite author since I picked up Subterranean years ago…and this is the best interview I’ve read yet! Thank you for starting my day off with a laugh 🙂
Thank you, Heather. I’m honored.
Great interview. I love finding new authors–in bookstores, on friends’ bookshelves, under tables at Panera. Never found on in a ditch in the woods, because there are no woods in my neck of the . . . plains. Found a cookbook author in the trunk of my car once, and that saved the day, let me tell you!
Hope these stories will fit on my Nook!
Gorgeous dog, too.
Thanks for the fun post.
Hey! I saw that lady under the table at Panera, too! I thought she was just going for the sticky bun I dropped. 🙂
Btw, I have a few of James Rollins’ books on my Nook.
Thanks for the compliment. I’ll pass along your kind words to Daisy. Appreciate you stopping by.
Piper, You interview like no other! And I mean that as a compliment. 😉 Terrific and entertaining post. And no offense to the fantastic Mr. Rollins, but OMG, your DOG! Adorable. My dog and bird are fans, too.
Thanks for the light you bring to the social media word. I always enjoy your posts!
Thank you, August. I’ll pass on that marvelous compliment to Daisy. She will be flattered that your dog and your bird are fans. She would love to meet them, though she might be a bit too eager to meet your bird. Seriously, though, I’m honored. Thank you.
This is a great interview, and you always make me laugh! I like his style of filing things away for future work when he’s traveling. I had a sneaking suspicion that co-writing was solved by duels. Also, I covet your Sig Sauer. I have thought for many years that it would be a good complement to my Kimber. I’ve actually never read any James Rollins, but you totally sold me. Off to go download now.
I’m so glad we could give you a laugh this morning. 🙂
And as for coveting my Siggie, well, you have good taste. I highly recommend them. Supposedly, they even work reliably underwater. I haven’t tested that myself, but as a diver, I keep it in mind should the need arise. And your Kimber sounds lonely. Guns, like dogs, are happier in packs.
I’m so glad you’re checking out James Rollins. I thoroughly enjoy his work and have learned a great deal from reading him. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
i love your interviews they are so funny and very informative a great read a suggestion for you is I would love to read your interview with Steve Berry I bet that would be as great as your James Rollins interviews
Thanks for the compliment, Kelsey. I have not yet interviewed Steve Berry, but you never know who we might find in a ditch some day. 🙂 Appreciate your comment.
Piper, this is the coolest interview, so witty and hilarious. What a good sport James Rollins is, not to mention his awesome author status and kindness to animals. I’m a dog lover, too, so Daisy gets two thumbs–I mean paws, up!
James Rollins is a very nice man. He’s in his writing cave and doesn’t get out much to tweet with people, but if you ever see him chatting on there, be sure to say hello. He’s very friendly.
Thank you for the compliment and for stopping by. I’ll be sure to tell Daisy you’re a fan. 🙂
I know a writer made it when I see his name at Rite Aid. I saw a title or two of James Rollins’ work at Rite Aid. He made it. Love that he wrote Indiana Jones novel. 🙂 Exciting.
James Rollins rocks. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Marilag. 🙂
Perhaps one of the most entertaining interviews I`ve ever read. Truly a fun read!
Thank you, Emily. Glad you enjoyed it. Good to see you.