I’ve been a fan of Linda Fairstein for years. I absolutely love her writing style and how she always packs so much history and information about New York City into her stories. So when I got the chance to ask a few questions for this segment, the hardest part was narrowing my list of several dozen must-ask questions down to just five.
In the Q&A, Fairstein provides generous answers, touching on everything from the moment she received her first book deal to who she’d like to see play Coop on the big screen. Check out the brief interview below, then keep scrolling to find out more about Fairstein’s latest New York Times bestselling novel, Deadfall.
TRBS: Deadfall is your 19th novel in the Alexandra Cooper series. Did you ever think back in 1996, when Final Jeopardy (the first book) came out, that Coop would hang around this long?
Fairstein: “When my literary agent called me at 7 o’clock on a cold evening in January, 1995, she asked me where I was.
“’In a taxicab,’ I answered. ‘No,’ she said, ‘look out the window and tell me exactly where the cab is.’
“’Why?’ I asked, noting that the Manhattan street signs said Park Ave South and 29th Street.
“She told me she wanted me always to remember that’s where I was when she found out that three publishers were bidding on the first 90 manuscript pages of Final Jeopardy. The agent went on to say that one of the publishers asked if I thought I had two books in me. Without a moment’s hesitation, I blurted out, ‘I think I have ten!’
“Deadfall is #19 in the series, and yes, I still pinch myself every time that I think Coop’s story is still being told. For me, as a devotee of series crime fiction, it is really a dream come true. One other thing–when the character has a professional life so much like my own that she is in many ways my alter ego, it’s awfully hard to think of knocking her off.”
TRBS: While Coop is the main character, the real star of your series is New York City itself, and you’re known for packing tons of historical details into your books. For example, in Deadfall, you teach readers about the history of the city’s zoos. Does writing those details into your books come naturally, or do you plan on slipping things in ahead of time when you first sit down to write the book?
Fairstein: “As much as I love the crime genre, I’ve never been fond of novels that are all action–car chases and shoot outs. I set out to entertain my readers, but also to educate them gently. It was my own idea–sort of a self-branding–to explore the dark underbelly of New York City (something I learned about and saw firsthand as a prosecutor) and make Gotham a character in the novels.
“In every one of the books, I have chosen the world that I wanted to explore. Sometimes it has been because I’m familiar with a real crime that occurred there–like the murder at the Metropolitan Opera House, which inspired my fictional Death Dance–and sometimes, like the Bronx Zoo in Deadfall, the history is great fun as well as interesting, and a bit sinister.”
TRBS: Is there a chance fans might get to see Coop on the big screen one day, and which actress is your dream casting choice to play her?
Fairstein: “I’d love to see Coop on the big screen, or even in a well-done TV series, like Bosch. At the moment, my first choice for an actress to portray her is the very talented–and busy–Jennifer Lawrence.”
TRBS: Who are some of your favorite authors, and what books are on your nightstand right now?
Fairstein: “I’m about to binge on crime fiction as my tour ends and I kick back for the end of summer. I have an advance copy of Nelson DeMille’s The Cuban Affair, an inscribed copy of Daniel Silva’s House of Spies, and I’ve pre-ordered Lisa Scottoline’s Exposed. I’m also re-reading Sinclair Lewis’ Arrowsmith as a bit of research for my next Coop novel. Please stay tuned!”
TRBS: Lastly, now that Deadfall is in bookstores, what’s next for you? Do you take time off or jump right into the next book?
Fairstein: “Deadfall debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List, which is always a thrill. Next out is my second book in my new series of mysteries for young readers, which is my tribute to Nancy Drew/The Hardy Boys. The first book–Into the Lion’s Den–was published last fall, and the second one featuring 12-year-old sleuth Devlin Quick debuts on November 5th. Then I need to move forward with Coop’s 20th caper, which is as yet untitled.”
Since making the ‘Five Questions’ segment a regular staple in June of this year, I’ve been really impressed with the insightful and fun answers we’ve collected from some of the genre’s biggest and most famous authors. This one is certainly no exception, as Fairstein packed this Q&A with tons of tidbits I know her longtime fans will appreciate and enjoy reading.
As for Deadfall, which debuted on the New York Times bestsellers list in its first week of sales, I really believe it’s one of Fairstein’s best thrillers to date. I’m a big fan of some of her earlier work, but the way last year’s book ended made the year-long wait until this one came out almost unbearable.
The cliffhanger at the end of last year’s Killer Look was reminiscent of Brad Thor’s Full Black. Things have a happy ending, or so you think, and suddenly bullets start flying. Shots ring out, and just as your heart rate soars, the book ends. It’s miserable for readers, but it also puts a lot of pressure on the author to deliver.
Like Thor, Fairstein delivered in a big way with her following book. Deadfall opens seconds after where Killer Look ended, with Coop’s boss being shot and then dying in her arms. From there, Fairstein puts the gas pedal to the floor and never lets up.