Blood and Bone More Archaeological Adventures from Popular Suspense Writer Don Hoesel. A decade after Serpent of Moses, Jack is married to Espy and back teaching at Evanston University. They have two sons, one of whom has cystic fibrosis. Despite this challenge, life is comfortable. But that all changes when the CIA, while combing through the papers of the late Gordon Reese, uncovers the secret of Elisha's bones. Jack's world is then turned upside down by an urgent call from his old friend Duckey, who's been alerted to the CIA's probing by one of his former contacts. Jack and his family escape from their home just ahead of the CIA, and he decides to do what he should have done long ago: recover the bones and destroy them. Except the bones aren't where he left them. So now Jack is in a race, for the last time, to find the bones. And he's not the only one. Pitted against both the CIA and an organization that will kill to protect their secrets, Jack and Espy follow hard-to-decipher clues across the globe before arriving in the catacombs of Paris for a final showdown that will either save their family--or tear apart everything they hold dear forever.
Let's Get to Know the Author!
What inspired you to write this book?
Originally I had no real plans to write another Jack Hawthorne book after Elisha’s Bones, the first in the series, even if I thought there were some good stories left to tell. But people seemed to really connect with Jack. I got a lot of emails asking if there would be more Jack Hawthorne adventures. And I was happy to do it because Jack’s such a fun character to write about. With Blood and Bone, the third in the series, it’s a chance to provide some closure to the story that kicked everything off.
What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?
The biggest challenge I face as a writer is finding the time to balance writing against all my other responsibilities. I’ve “solved” that problem by learning how to exist without sleep. I usually start writing after my family goes to bed (around 10:00 PM) and I write until about 1:00 AM.
Do you have a favorite character in Blood and Bone? Who and why?
Of all the characters I’ve created, Jack Hawthorne is my favorite. From the beginning, it was easy to write his flippancy, his irresponsibility, his skepticism. He’s a fun character to create stories for, the kind of character that makes the process enjoyable.
What message do you hope readers take away from the book?
There are a few themes I tried to infuse into the story, the two most pronounced being that growing in faith can be a messy business and that no man can do it by himself. Jack’s the consummate loner, who was dragged practically kicking and screaming into the faith, and so part of what I wanted to convey was the way a born skeptic develops a relationship with a God he can no longer deny, yet who also challenges his deeply held convictions. In the process I wanted to force Jack to take a long, hard look at his priorities, and the place his family and friends have among them, and make some hard decisions.
What three words would best describe Jack Hawthorne?
Flippant, witty, skeptical.
Do you share any personality traits with Jack Hawthorne?
Aside from an abiding love for cigars, I share a lot more commonalities with Jack. And that’s not necessarily a good thing because Jack has a lot of vices and character flaws. But I think having all those flaws makes Jack accessible to reader.
Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write?
I can write just about anywhere, at any time, whatever the circumstances. I learned a long time ago that if I’m going to be at all productive, I have to be able to tune out distractions. That said, my preference is to work when it’s quiet and I’m alone but I attribute that more to the fact that I’m a night owl than I do any real need for quiet.
Who do you read for inspiration? Why?
It’s not a who as much as it’s a genre. While my reading tastes are pretty eclectic I have a preference for Southern Lit. So when I need to read something just to refuel, I’m reaching for Harry Crews, Larry Brown, Daniel Woodrell, Cormac McCarthy…
What kind of research was involved for the series? Did you find it became easier with each book?
For the Jack Hawthorne series, I spent research time in two different areas. One area involved learning everything I could about archaeology. I had a bit of a head start here because, when I was in school, I toyed with the idea of archaeology as a career. Still, I had to spend a good deal of time trying to make sure that the scenes in the books that featured archaeological field work were reasonably accurate.
The second area of research involved the various settings throughout the series. I’ve been blessed with a great many opportunities to travel, which makes it easier to write about places outside of the US, but the fact is I haven’t been everywhere my intrepid archaeologist has. And I take a lot of pride in making sure that when I set Jack in a place, I get the details right. So a lot of work goes into making sure I have the geography, clothing, culture, cuisine, etc, as accurate as I can make them.
Did research get easier as the series progressed? In some respects, yes. For example, by the time I reached the third book I didn’t have to research some of the more basic archaeological protocols anymore. But I did have to research different settings. And all of my books hinge on a variety of clues that draw the main characters onward, with each clue requiring research before I could include it in a story.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
I try to avoid saying never but I think that Blood and Bone is a suitable completion to the Jack Hawthorne story arc. Over the course of the three books, we’ve watched Jack’s journey from young, unattached skeptic to older, grudgingly-responsible believer. And during that process, he’s traipsed across the globe facing some pretty powerful enemies. After all of that, he probably deserves to settle down with a good cigar and enjoy the fruits of his labor.
What do you have in store next for your readers?
With the end of the Jack Hawthorne books, it’s time to move on to something new. I’m taking a bit longer than usual in trying to figure out what the next book will be but, after five books in five years, I want to take a bit of a breath and make sure I choose the right project. So that’s a long way of saying that something’s coming but I’m not entirely sure what it is yet.
What has been your greatest pleasure or personal success as an author?
Despite the fact that I have five books out now, I still think the greatest pleasure I’ve ever received as an author was when I held that first one in my hands.
What type of hero do you like best?
I prefer a reluctant hero—and a flawed one. And I’ve always been attracted to the skeptic—to someone who has a difficult time believing unless he can see it with his own eyes. Often, skeptics can be very driven people—driven to search for the answers themselves because they’re not content to let others do the legwork for them.
What type of heroine do you like best?
I like a heroine who can deliver a punch when she needs to—and one who can hold her own in any seedy tavern anywhere in the world.
If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you want to know?
While I could supply quite a few names here, I believe I’d choose Larry Brown. He’s written some of the most haunting stuff I’ve ever read and I would have loved to meet him before he died. But while there’s a lot I’d want to ask him, I doubt I’d ask him a single thing because he was just your typical quiet, uncomfortable in public Southern author who would rather just drink a beer with you than talk with you.
Did you have a favorite character or hero as a child? Do you have a literary hero as an adult?
I don’t recall having any real heroes as a kid. As an adult, my literary heroes would have to be the whole pantheon of Southern Gothic writers.
What was the last truly great book you read?
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
What’s the best book you read this summer?
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
What were your favorite books as a child?
I was partial to science fiction and fantasy as a child.
What do you plan to read next?
Mohawk by Richard Russo
Do you write your friends or family members into your books? If so, did they figure it out?
Not deliberately but I don’t think a writer can avoid including traits of people they know in the characters they create.
What is your favorite scene in Blood and Bone?
Despite the fact that it’s a suspense novel, my favorite scene in Blood and Bone is primarily dialogue. It’s a point in the book in which Jack and Esperanza are searching for a clue in London and, while touring a woman’s home, Esperanza engages this woman in a game of verbal daggers. Esperanza wins.
How do you unwind after a long writing session?
Since I don’t usually start writing until after my family goes to sleep, which puts my writing block between 10PM and 1AM, the way I unwind is to go to bed!
If you had the authority to do so, what five books would you remove from the banned/challenged lists?
All of them. It irritates me when someone tries to limit access to ideas.
Do you have a favorite author? Who and why?
Right now my favorite author is Cormac McCarthy. His mastery of descriptive language is unparalleled. Previous favorites include Larry Brown and Richard Russo.
How do you feel about book trailers and do you have any?
I’m not entirely sure what to think of them. On one hand, I can see their value as another tool for getting someone interested in a book. If they’re done well, if they’re visually appealing and have decent production values, I think they can work. But, ultimately, I think it’s an odd thing to try to market a book using methods generally reserved for visual entertainment. Some of the more ambitious book trailers are like short films and I think there’s a danger in conditioning someone to expect something the text can’t, in the end, provide. Not that what a book provides isn’t better—it’s simply different. I don’t have any.
What are you reading now? Why did you choose that book?
I just finished Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses and I’m just about to start Richard Russo’s Mohawk. And the reason for choosing those books is that I trust both of those authors to give me a great story, delivered with skill and a unique style.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
Of all the characters I’ve created, Jack Hawthorne is the one I could see myself revisiting. He’s just a fun character to write. After I wrote the first book in the series, I wrote two other stand-alone books before returning to Jack. And it was like slipping on an old shoe. I could see myself doing that again.
Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
All things being equal, I write best with mechanical pencils on yellow notepads.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I started writing my first book while I was in middle school. It was a science fiction book and I wrote nearly three hundred pages before giving up on it. I still have the original hand-written manuscript somewhere.
The first book I ever finished was a collaboration with a friend right after I graduated from college. That one, like the science fiction novel, is shoved away in a closet.
Laptop, desktop or notebook and pen/pencil for writing?
My preference is a yellow notepad and a mechanical pencil. But deadlines often dictate a laptop.
Do you believe in writer’s block? Has it ever happened to you?
I don’t believe in writer’s block as a crippling event—one that keeps you from putting words down on paper. But I do believe there are times when what you’re writing just isn’t very good, when you can’t quite find the right way to say something. And, yes, that does happen to me.
Have you ever literally deleted or thrown away a book you’ve written?
I’ve never gotten rid of an entire book but I have scrapped whole chapters.
You’re spending one year living on a desert island – which three authors do you want with you?
Cormac McCarthy, Richard Russo, and Larry Brown.
If you were casting your main characters for a movie, who would be your top picks?
For the three books featuring Jack Hawthorne, I’ve always had a picture of Paul Blackthorne in my mind. And Espy’s always been Sofia Vergara.
Did the plot of the book turn out the way you planned or did something change during the process of writing it?
Before I started writing Blood and Bone, I had the story pretty well mapped out. So there were few major changes that happened as I wrote the book.
If you could get anyone to read your book, who would you choose and why?
It would have to be Ridley Scott. I’d love for him to take Blood and Bone (and the rest of the Jack Hawthorne series) to the big screen.
Best Christmas present?
I get books every year!
A good cigar.
Cajun double-dipped Buffalo wings at Elmo’s restaurant in Amherst, NY.
Author Don Hoesel Don Hoesel is a Web site designer for a Medicare carrier in Nashville, TN. He has a BA in Mass Communication from Taylor University and has published short fiction in Relief Journal. He lives in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with his wife and two children. The Alarmists is his third novel.
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Enjoy an Excerpt
Jack and Espy lose their children:
A wave of panic came over Jack. He ran alongside the plane, pounding on the door as it taxied away from the hangar. He was shouting, but his words were lost to the increasing sound of the engines. He backed away, thought to circle around to the cockpit window, to try to get a shot off. But as me moved to get around the wing, to avoid the deadly propellers, the plane’s pilot executed a sharp turn and began accelerating toward the runway.
Jack’s panic had turned into real fear—a fear unlike any he’d ever known. As the plane picked up speed, he tried to keep up, running alongside it like a madman. He held the gun helplessly in one hand while with the other, he banged on the cold metal of the aircraft. It didn’t take long for the plane to leave him behind, to leave him watching the gap that widened between him and his sons. By the time the plane reached the runway, it was too far ahead for Jack to do anything but stare as its pilot opened the throttle and lowered the flaps.
Before long, the plane was in the air.
Jack stood frozen on the tarmac, watching the plane become a vanishing point in the dark sky. From behind him came the sound of Esperanza’s unchecked sobs.
Instinctively, Jack moved to the table and reached for his gun. His fingers closed on it just as he heard a sound at the door. Gun in hand, he turned toward the door, but the noise—something that sounded like a hand on the doorknob—didn’t repeat. Jack stood barefoot in the darkened room and listened, a rush of alertness tensing every muscle. Yet, as the seconds passed without a repeat of the sound, or another strange light through the window, he found his breathing slowing, the adrenaline receding. He took a deep breath and brought the gun down.
He turned to put the gun back on the table when the door behind him exploded inward. As Jack whipped around, the shattered door dominated his line of sight, but in his peripheral vision, he saw Espy bolt upright. The thought of his wife, vulnerable, moved him forward. When the first dark clad figure stepped through the door, Jack pulled the trigger without a second thought.
He had to have missed because the man kept advancing. Then there were two of them and, before Jack could get off a second shot, the one in front shouted something in French. Jack saw the man’s gun hand come up, but the weapon wasn’t aimed at him. Espy, frozen in bed, offered a clear and easy target for the intruder. The man, face hidden behind a ski mask, barked a command—one that even Jack’s poor French could interpret. But still he kept the gun up, even as the second intruder took a step deeper into the room, finding an angle that allowed him to target Jack.
Jack’s heart raced; he could feel the vein in his neck throbbing. While he couldn’t tear his eyes from the men in front of him, he could see Espy awakening to the reality of the situation. Jack’s finger began to tighten on the trigger. But the lead man had a shot at Espy; he wouldn’t miss. Jack lowered his arm. He dropped the gun at his feet.
The man nearest the door started to advance toward the bed. Espy, watching the masked man approach, began to free herself from the blankets, moving away from the threat. Jack took a step closer to the bed, but the man halted Jack where he stood, pointing his gun at Espy and telling Jack to stay put.
Movement near the door pulled Jack’s attention away from Espy. It happened almost faster than Jack could register it. A third man, one not wearing anything to conceal his face, stepped into the room, swiftly crossed the two steps to the man barking the orders, and put a gun to the back of his head. The report of a single shot filled the small space, and a mist of blood sprayed out over the wall. The new arrival then turned to the second man, who only now was turning from the bed, and put two bullets in his chest. The masked man collapsed against the foot of the bed. The gun fell from his hand.
For what seemed an eternity, both Jack and Espy were frozen. Then, as if someone had shouted in her ear, Espy scrambled from the bed. Jack rushed toward her, gathering her up and moving her behind him. He cast his eyes about for the gun he’d dropped. But the new arrival had already turned away from his second kill to face Jack. He had a shock of blonde hair, with bright blue eyes.
He quickly lifted his coat and secreted the weapon into a concealed holster. That done, he turned for the door. When he reached it, he spun back around. Jack thought he saw a hint of a cold smile. “Compliments of Monsieur Rousseau,” he said, then he disappeared into the night.