James W. Hall on Writing Going Dark


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In the previous book, Dead Last, Thorn discovered he’d fathered twin sons.  One of them was killed near the end of Dead Last, and the other, Flynn Moss, plays a major role in the next two novels, Going Dark and The Big Finish.

At first I had no intention of making Flynn fill such a prominent role in future books, but he wouldn’t disappear into the background.  He’d inherited too much of Thorn’s contrary blood to go quietly.

As Flynn asserted himself in my imagination, I realized that he was in many ways a New Thorn, a next generational version of the withdrawn, anti-social, reluctant hero I’d been developing over the years.  Flynn had all of Thorn’s love of the natural  world and yes, he was also deeply introverted.  Like many successful actors (which Flynn was), he was a sensitive guy who hid behind the masks he was paid to create.

While Thorn has never been a crusader for any cause other than seeking justice for his friends and lovers, he’s had a long simmering outrage over violations of the natural world.

So like many children, Flynn copied his father’s persona in an exaggerated way.  He became an eco-terrorist.  I did a good deal of reading about various eco-terrorist groups, literature written by the establishment law enforcement community as well as books by radical green activists.  Then I looked around South Florida, searching for a suitable high profile target for Flynn’s fury and settled on Turkey Point Nuclear reactor.

Finding a believable way to “attack” Turkey Point was the first major challenge, and one I had fun imagining.  Flynn’s group of eco-warriors finds a helpful insider at the nuke plant and with his help and some ingenious play acting, they manage to penetrate the plant’s security and bring about a good deal of mayhem.  Naturally Thorn is drawn into the plot, trying to extricate his son, then when that fails, trying to insure his safety.

I got to do some wonderful research with the help of Joe Wasilewski, a biologist paid by FPL to monitor the large and growing population of crocodiles that flourish in the cooling canals of the nuke plant.  It’s that reseach that gave me a cool idea of a way to penetrate Turkey Point’s defenses.