My guest today is the bestselling author Andrew Kaufman. He is also one of my absolute favorite writers. I’m character-driven in both my own writing and my reading preference, and Andrew has the ability to get inside his characters in a way many authors aren’t able to do. If you haven’t read his books, yet, you need to! But, first, hang out with us here and get to know a little about Andrew.
Andrew E. Kaufman is a freelance writer and author living in Southern California, along with his six Labrador Retrievers, three horses, and a very bossy Jack Russell Terrier (who, incidentally, thinks she owns the place).
After receiving his journalism and political science degrees at San Diego State University, Andrew began his writing career as an Emmy-nominated writer/producer, working at KFMB-TV, the CBS affiliate in San Diego, then at KCAL-TV in Los Angeles. For more than ten years, he produced special series and covered many nationally known cases, including the O.J. Simpson Trial.***
Now for a look at Andrew’s new book The Lion, the Lamb, the Hunted, which we’ll be discussing today:
SHE ONLY STEPPED OUTSIDE FOR A MINUTE…
But a minute was all it took to turn Jean Kingsley’s world upside down–a minute she’d regret for the rest of her life.
STEPPING INTO HER WORST NIGHTMARE.
Because when she returned, she found an open bedroom window and her three-year-old son, Nathan, gone. The boy would never be seen again.
A NIGHTMARE THAT ONLY BECAME WORSE.
A tip leads detectives to the killer, a repeat sex offender, and inside his apartment, a gruesome discovery. A slam-dunk trial sends him off to death row, then several years later, to the electric chair.
CASE CLOSED. JUSTICE SERVED…OR WAS IT?
Now, more than thirty years later, Patrick Bannister unwittingly stumbles across evidence among his dead mother’s belongings. It paints his mother as the killer and her brother, a wealthy and powerful senator, as the one pulling the strings.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO NATHAN KINGSLEY?
There’s a hole in the case a mile wide, and Patrick is determined to close it. But what he doesn’t know is that the closer he moves toward the truth, the more he’s putting his life on the line, that he’s become the hunted. Someone’s hiding a dark secret and will stop at nothing to keep it that way.
The clock is ticking, the walls are closing, and the stakes are getting higher as he races to find a killer–one who’s hot on his trail. One who’s out for his blood.***
Ready to learn more about Andrew and his books? On to our conversation:
Your debut novel, While the Savage Sleeps went straight to the bestseller list. Did that instant success affect your writing process and mindset when you set out to write The Lion, the Lamb, the Hunted?
It’s kind of funny. When I set out to write my first novel, the question I asked myself was whether I could write a novel. Period. I’d tried so many times before but failed. Once I finished it, I honestly didn’t know how readers would respond, if at all. As writers, we work in a vacuum and really don’t know what we have until we send it off into the world. After While the Savage Sleeps went to number one, I realized this was a whole new ball game. Suddenly, I had an audience of readers. I understood the accountability that went with that, so when I started writing The Lion, the Lamb, the Hunted, the question was no longer whether or not I could write a novel; it was whether I could write a better novel. It’s in my nature to want to stretch myself, to improve, but in this situation, the stakes seemed so much higher. I felt a responsibility not only to myself but also to my readers. I worked like I’ve never worked before to make this the absolute best I could. I was ridiculously hard on myself because I didn’t want to let my readers down.
I’ve read The Lion, the Lamb, the Hunted, and I think your writing talent shines. Do you feel you succeeded in stretching yourself?
On a personal level, I’d have to say, yes. I’m satisfied that I did everything I could to raise the bar. I love this book, and I’m proud of it. It’s been true labor of love for me. Of course, we’ll have to see what the readers think, but the response from the beta readers was overwhelmingly positive, and I was thrilled with that. The rest is up to fate, I guess, and is out of my control.
These two books do not fall in the same genre. While the Savage Sleeps is horror, while The Lion, the Lamb, the Hunted is a psychological thriller. What made you decide to switch genres, and were you worried about how your readers would respond?
This book is a complete departure from my first. We’re talking two sides of the globe. The thing is, I never intended to be a horror writer, per se. I write what I’m passionate about and don’t pay much attention to genre. While the Savage Sleeps was just a story I wanted to tell. The Lion, the Lamb, the Hunted is another. I think when you write from the heart, the readers can sense that, and then everything else falls into place. I’m not sure I’ll ever want to be boxed into one particular genre; it seems too confining. I’ve worked hard to brand myself rather than just my genre. But yes, it was a risk for me to hop genres on my second book, especially after developing a following. Am I nervous about it? You bet. But it all goes back to following your heart and knowing all else will follow right along. I’ve learned to trust my gut; it hasn’t let me down yet.
I loved Patrick, the lead character in The Lion, the Lamb, the Hunted. He’s a complex yet sympathetic character. Can you tell us a little about him?
Patrick is probably my favorite character to date. He’s had such a painful and tragic past and yet has still somehow managed to remain genuine, sincere, and quite likeable. Don’t get me wrong—he’s flawed, terribly so, but in a way, I think, that endears rather than repels. A few of my beta readers said all they wanted to do was throw their arms around him. I think that says it all.
Patrick struggles with a multitude of challenges. Can you share a little about them?
He suffered a horribly abusive childhood, has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and as if that weren’t enough, he’s a bleeder. You said it: a multitude of challenges.
I wanted to raise the stakes for him like I’ve never done before with any other character. It was important that the reader see him struggle and rise above his obstacles, both on a personal level and within the story itself. The blood disease is a metaphor; he’s been deeply injured, and as a result, is deeply vulnerable. On the physical level, he lives with the day-to-day fear of being injured, of bleeding to death. It’s the same thing with his emotional state; he’s scared of being vulnerable, of being wounded. It just felt like the right choice.
With the OCD, his particular compulsion is listing; he writes the same words over and over. To raise the stakes even more, he’s a journalist, a writer, trapped by his own words. The irony in that fascinated me, and I used it as a device to show his tension. As the situation becomes more dangerous, his disorder becomes more pervasive. As for his abuse, that’s directly tied to the plot, but it also makes him a more vulnerable character on so many different levels.
Are there bits of you in Patrick? Did you identify with him?
Not in terms of his circumstances, but on an emotional level, very much. It’s interesting how each time I write a new book, my characters become so real to me that at times it feels overwhelming. They’re almost like my children. I love them all and I feel their pain. I have to throw myself into their minds in order to portray them in a realistic and compelling way. In doing that, I tend to cross that emotional bridge and connect with them on a very personal level. I guess that’s a good sign.
You characters come alive on the page and become people readers can relate to. What is your secret to creating characters readers so easily connect with?
I think flaws are vital to a character, but like I mentioned before, ones that draw the reader to them. Flaws add dimension and make them more interesting, and since none of us is perfect, I think they help us relate to them better. We identify with their shortcomings. Another reason is that I do my best to make their struggles seam real, and when it’s all over, I want them to grow as a result, become changed in a significant way.
Your books lack sex, which absolutely works for you. Was it a conscious decision for you to avoid sexual relationships in your books?
The truth is that in real life, people aren’t automatically attracted to one another just because they find themselves thrown together. I see it happen in books a lot and it bothers me because it often feels too predictable. It’s so easy to take that path, so I choose not to. Besides that, I just don’t see a place for it when I’m writing suspense. If a crazed killer is chasing you, sex is probably going to be the last thing on your mind. For me, it slows down the action too much.
Tell us one thing you want readers to know about The Lion, the Lamb, the Hunted.
Oh, gosh. There’s more than one. I guess that this book has so many layers to it, and instead of starting with a bang like While the Savage Sleeps does, it builds toward one. Kind of a reversal of sorts, but I think—or I hope—it’s a satisfying one.
Your very connected to your readers. What do they mean to you?
They mean the world to me, and I say it every chance I get. Make no mistake about it: I’m fiercely loyal to them. Now more than ever, there are so many choices when it comes to reading. That they’ve managed to find me and then support me like they have is nothing short of awe-inspiring. I feel an intense responsibility to give them the best I can offer, and I never want to let them down. It’s the reason why I dedicated this book to them. They’re that important to me.
Thank you, Andrew, for taking the time to talk to us about your writing.
Here’s a look at Andrew’s books on Amazon, in both print and Kindle format:
I hope you’ll take the time to read Andrew’s books. You can learn more about Andrew and his writing in the following places:
Thanks for reading.