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February 22, 2011

Lincoln Child: GIDEON'S SWORD

Posted by Stephen

Preston and Child photo.jpgLincoln Child (orange shirt) and Douglas Preston have teamed up to write 10 bestselling novels featuring FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast. However, the duo began toying with a new character and series, resulting in Gideon Crew, who makes his debut in Gideon's Sword. Here, Lincoln talks about creating a new character in the shadow of an already established, identifiable one. Gideon's Sword is in stores now. Visit for more information, or find the duo on Final Gideon Sword cover.jpgFacebook here.

Along with several stand-alone novels of adventure, Doug Preston and I have now written 10 books featuring the brilliant, eccentric, and iconoclastic FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast. (11, if you count the not-yet-published Cold Vengeance.) Along the way, we’ve built up a rich and complex world, and writing the books has become a rather comfortable experience --- at least, as comfortable as can be when dealing with a character as formidable and unpredictable as Pendergast.

About 18 months ago, we decided it was time to challenge ourselves anew. In addition to the continuing Pendergast novels, we resolved to launch a new series of books featuring a protagonist that, in some ways, would be as different from Pendergast as oil from vinegar. He would be young and impulsive; he would be hip; he would be an expert at ‘social engineering’; he would have a decidedly shady past; and he would have the most peculiar of resumes: ex- art thief, now nuclear scientist at Los Alamos.
And his name would be Gideon Crew.
Now the first book in the series, Gideon's Sword, is released today. When we got down to the business of writing, we realized that, being a different character, Gideon would demand a different kind of book. The Pendergast novels are dark, baroque, full of mystery and strangeness --- qualities which Doug and I both love. The Gideon Crew novels would be lean and linear, full of action, like a freight train barreling toward a precipice at top speed. We decided, from the beginning, we would limit the total number of novels in the series --- and to make sure of this, we gave Gideon some really, really bad news early on in this first installment. We decided to end each book with a final chapter that would also double as the first chapter of the next. In other words, Gideon’s Sword ends with a cliffhanger that sets up the mission he will undertake in his next outing, to be chronicled in book two, Gideon’s Corpse.
Bringing such a wildly different character to life proved to be challenging as well as rewarding. Having a writing partnership helped immeasurably. We discussed (or rather argued) for months about him --- who he is, what he wears, what music he listens to, and on and on --- until he was literally standing in front of us, wry grin on his face, more real than many real people we know. When one of us was having trouble with some nuance in Gideon’s personality, or deciding how he would react to a series of events, the other almost immediately would suggest a killer idea. Other times, when I (for example) would read over a series of chapters written by Doug, I might be struck with new ideas that could make the action even better. People often assume that a writing partnership is a dry, committee-like endeavor. With us, it’s just the opposite: organic, two friends sitting around tossing around ideas, brainstorming, arguing, damning each other to hell, laughing, commiserating, building castles in the air --- and then bringing our ideas into reality through words.
We were lucky to sell the Gideon series to Paramount Pictures and the excellent producer/director Michael Bay. The executives at Paramount loved Gideon, telling us he was as exciting as Jason Bourne, but vulnerable, with a big heart and a wry sense of humor.
So now we have two protagonists to feed and water, each with his own private universe that will keep expanding, with his own friends (and enemies) who will come and go, fall out of favor, redeem themselves, and --- sometimes --- meet tragic ends. Already we’ve begun to wonder if Pendergast and Gideon could meet as friends --- or if such a meeting would inevitably lead to fisticuffs. It’s an intriguing question.