Prior to his new Jonathan Grave novel coming out, which hits bookstores today, we caught up with New York Times bestselling author John Gilstrap, who was nice enough to answer a few of our questions. Gilstrap, by the way, didn’t hold back–revealing the working title of his next Jonathan Grave novel (which he’s currently writing) and hinting at another future project.
See the brief Q&A below, then scroll down to read a little more information about Final Target.
TRBS: Your first Jonathan Grave novel, No Mercy, came out in 2009. Back then, did you ever think that this series would still be going strong eight years later?
Gilstrap: “Until the idea of Jonathan Grave as a character, I had never considered writing a series. I didn’t even know how to pitch a series, but that character came to me in a flash–in the parking lot of an electrical supply store where my wife and I were shopping for lamps–and it came fully formed. Within a couple of hours, I’d developed Fisherman’s Cove as the place where he lived, the fact that his home was a converted firehouse, and that he would be the benefactor of a residential school for the children of incarcerated parents. I mean, all of this formed up in a couple of hours.
“So, while it would be pure hubris to expect a series to have the longevity or the success that Jonathan and his team have enjoyed, I certainly hoped that it would.”
TRBS: A large portion of the plot in Final Target takes place in the jungle, which can be a tricky setting to write about. How much research did you do before sitting down to actually write this book?
Gilstrap: “Well, there’s research, and then there’s research. Over the years, I’ve visited my share of jungles–usually attendant to a vacation–and I’ve found them all to be more or less the same, so those elements of the story came from memories of personal experience. The technical elements of weaponry and tactics comes from many years of hands-on experience and a well-developed Rolodex. So, to answer your question, Final Target actually required little new research.”
TRBS: All of the other books in this series were released in paperback–making Final Target the first one to also be available in hardcover. That must be exciting, right?
Gilstrap: “Actually, Final Target is being released simultaneously in both hardcover and paperback, and that’s what I find most exciting. I worry about the sticker shock of a 100% price increase for fans, so now the addition of hardcover as an option simply expands the market without risking a portion of it. As for the absolute value of hardcover over paperback, I know that there’s a stigma among the reading and reviewing public, but I’ve never thought the stigma was a rational one.”
TRBS: Here’s a two-part question. Might fans ever see Jonathan Grave on the big screen someday and, if that were to ever happen, who would be your dream casting choice to play Jonathan in a movie?
Gilstrap: “I hope this doesn’t come out wrong, but I am shocked that I’ve never once been approached by a movie or TV producer about adapting a book from the Grave series. So, I’d say the chances of seeing Digger and crew on the big screen do not look good. Of course, that can change in an instant. As for who would play Jonathan, I honestly don’t know. I know some real-life people who would be perfect for the role, but none of them are actors.”
TRBS: Lastly, what’s next for you now that the book’s out–will you take some time off or jump right into writing the next book?
Gilstrap: “I owe my next book, Scorpion Strike, to my publisher on September 15, so this is my busiest time of year, and will remain so till early autumn. That’s when I can take some time off to refresh and renew. And I’ll let you be the first to know…There may be news very soon on a second series by yours truly. Stay tuned.”
To recap, Gilstrap casually slipped in there that his next book is currently titled Scorpion Strike, which is likely a play on names involving his series character Jonathan Grave, whose code name is Scorpion. We don’t know any plot details yet, obviously, but toss this one on the list of books to watch for in 2018.
As for Final Target, I really think this might be Gilstrap’s best novel yet. I enjoyed it more than last year’s Friendly Fire, which was also really good. Not only do I enjoy Gilstrap’s writing style and characters–Scorpion and Big Guy are always fun to follow around for a few hundred pages–but, as a reviewer and critic, I appreciate that Gilstrap continues to write creative stories that don’t follow the current trends.
Most of today’s top thriller authors are focusing on current headlines, which means they’re writing about ISIS, Russia, or both. Gilstrap goes in a different direction, making his story truly unique and different from most of the other new thrillers coming out this summer.
If you haven’t read any of Gilstrap’s previous novels, you can absolutely jump in and enjoy this one on its own. So whether you’re a longtime fan or total newcomer, if you like action-packed thrillers with a touch of humor, head out and get Final Target today!