A Chat with Thriller Author Graham Brown

from CJ:

Debut thriller author Graham Brown is stopping by today to chat!

Here's a little about Graham: Graham grew up on the east coast, playing soccer and Lacrosse and fighting with his brothers, before heading out to college in Arizona. There, he earned a degree in Aeronautical Science and learned to fly, piloting single and twin engine light planes. (We call them bug smashers, because they fly low and slow and they hit a lot of bugs.)

He later attended Law School, and after working as an attorney for several years, decided to try his hand at writing. It took a while, but in 2008, Random House bought the rights to his first book, Black Rain, in a multi book deal. It was published in January of 2010. The sequel to Black Rain, entitled Black Sun will hit bookstores in August.

Graham currently lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife, a couple of dogs and some stray cats that seem to have adopted him.

CJ: You're a pilot and a lawyer, what made you want to add author to your list of careers?

GB: Mostly it came from a love of reading. As a kid I read a lot and then, after college, I started picking up on various thriller authors, Michael Crichton, John Grisham, Clive Cussler. In particular, I remember being on a late night flight (as a passenger) from Philadelphia to Phoenix, I was reading Jurassic Park, and I reached the point where the T-Rex starts making a meal out of the Land Rovers, and we all know the story now, but on the first read through, I remember my heart literally pounding in my chest. The scene was told from the POV of Dr. Grant, watching the Land Rover with the kids in it get torn apart, totally helpless to do anything about it. I remember thinking : I would love to write something that could move people like that. So I guess that's the point where it went from this amorphous thought to something I really wanted to do.

CJ: Tell us about your debut novel, Black Rain. What sets your protagonist, Danielle Laidlaw, apart from other adventure/thriller characters?

GB: Black Rain is a jungle/survival Thriller - no surprise after reading the answer up above right? Much like Jurassic Park, I wanted to take a group of people, stick them as far from civilization as possible, cut them off from help and put them in grave danger. Then I wanted to make it realistic or at least plausible. So I did a great deal of research on the biology of the rain forest and the legends of the Mayan people and tried to work it all in. In Black Rain you'll encounter a good, and hopefully interesting dose of Mayan mythology. It comes from their prehistory, from a time before the gods had created proper humans. Its not 2012 related I promise - in fact I keep telling people: If 2012 is the end, then Black Rain is the beginning. The Garden of Eden as opposed to Revelation.

Regarding Danielle: I've always been around strong women. I find them more interesting. I can't stand the books and movies that give you a female character whose main job is to fall down so the man can help her up. So I knew right from the start that Danielle had to be strong, she had to be willful, she had to smart and competent. No way she was going to trip and break her ankle when the monster shows up. ;) But then I also didn't want her to be Rambo in drag. She had to be feminine and have a female point of view on things and she had to struggle against the things many women struggle against. One of her motivations at the beginning of the story is to bust through a particular glass ceiling that has been imposed on her. As her mentor says: "You have disadvantages, you'll have to beat the others just to pull even." And I've seen that in the case of many women I know. Did I get her right? I think so - but the female audience will have to be the judge of that. So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

CJ: Black Rain takes place in the Amazon rain forest. What adventures in research did you experience while writing it?

GB: I wish I could tell you I trekked through the Amazon for a month on my own, living off the land. But they don't have fast food places out there, so I honestly wouldn't have survived. I've done a lot of traveling to foreign countries though, done some rafting and rock climbing and I have spent time in two different rain forests, one in Mexico one in Hawaii and the feeling of being cut off and dwarfed to insignificance by everything around me was readily apparent in both places.

CJ: What most surprised you during your road to publication?

GB: How much work it actually is - I mistakenly thought it would be easy when I started, but that's not a bad thing. With that kind of ignorance you can learn a lot before you realize how much more further you have to go.

The other thing that was surprising and incredible was how warm and genuine most people in the industry are, especially other authors. I remember talking with Heather Graham at a conference . For some reason we were laughing up a storm about the simple fact that her last name was the same as my first name. I can't for the life of me remember why it was so funny, but it was very genuine. I also had fantastically candid conversations with Steve Berry, James Rollins, Zoe Sharpe and Bryce Courtney, long before I even had an agent. I doubt they would remember me because they talk to so many people in the same genuine way, but the impact they made on me was tremendous.

CJ: What's up next for you?

GB: Black Sun - the sequel to Black Rain is coming out in August. A third book in the series is planned and I have a pair of stand alone ideas for a legal thriller (loosely based on some of the crazy things that I have seen wit plenty of poetic license added in) and also an Apocalyptic SCI-FI thriller that I think would work well.

CJ: Where can readers find you on the web?

GB: My website is www.authorgrahambrown.com. I'm also on facebook and soon to be on twitter and have been fortunate enough to blog with a great group of people at http://7criminalminds.blogspot.com.

I've also guest blogged at: My Book: The Movie - where authors get to brainstorm on one of their favorite topics: who would play the characters they created if the book became a movie. Here's the link. http://mybookthemovie.blogspot.com/

If anyone has any questions there is a contact page on my website - I answer everything there personally and intend to keep doing that until(hopefully) it just gets too busy to do anything else.

Thanks, Graham for stopping by and chatting with the Divas!

About CJ:
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a National Bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller."

The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, was released January, 2009 and the third, URGENT CARE, October, 2009. Her newest project is as co-author of the first in a new suspense series with Erin Brockovich. To learn more about CJ and her work, go to http://www.cjlyons.net


  1. Really enjoyed the interview, CJ and Graham. Especially:

    'I remember being on a late night flight (as a passenger) from Philadelphia to Phoenix, I was reading Jurassic Park' - LOL! Good to know there's no reading while piloting.


    'Danielle had to be strong. But I didn't want her to be Rambo in drag.' - LOL!

  2. Glad you enjoyed it, Julia!
    Thanks for stopping by,

  3. Thanks Julie. I figured I'd better be clear on that, :)

    And a big thanks to CJ for the interview.

  4. Hi CJ and Graham. I really enjoyed your Q and A - and great to find out about another author out there who writes about strong women! ;) Your series of novels sounds like it has major Hollywood motion picture written all over it! Is that something that interests you as well? Cheers! and thanks so much for stopping by.

  5. Hi Joanna,

    I would love it if Hollywood came knocking on my door. And I'm even okay with the concept that the final product will likely be far different than the book I wrote. I used to think of the book and the movie as one and the same, but I realize now that each is an entirely different entity.

    By the way - I love that Seinfeld refereces are isted among your interests. One of the best shows ever.

  6. I bet Hollywood will come a knockin'. And when they do I hope you'll come back and tell us all about your experience!

    Ah, yes - Seinfeld - I am a bit of a Seinfeld geek. Often quote it.

    Thanks for spending the day with us.



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