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Watch: Three American authors see Malta as ideal setting for thriller books

Stephen Calleja Thursday, 2 July 2015, 08:10 Last update: about 9 years ago

Three American writers who were in Malta for a week at the invitation of the Malta Tourism Authority say they see Malta as an ideal location in which they could base their thriller books.

Chris Kuzneski, Boyd Morrison and Graham Brown said they were overwhelmed by what this little country can offer.

“I’ve been blown away. It’s really, really beautiful and everyone that I’ve met has been extremely nice. It has just been wonderful,” Kuzneski said.

The Florida-based writer was the first to be contacted by the MTA after an enthusiastic reader alerted it to Kuzneski’s mentioning of Malta in a string of his books, in spite of the fact that the author had never been here.

Kuzneski told The Malta Independent that a writer from Malta had made contact with him after the publication of one of his books and, intrigued by having his book read in the heart of the Med, decided to make a mention of it in his next publication. After receiving emails from other Maltese readers, Malta has been mentioned in each of his books.

Morrison, from Seattle, and Brown, from Phoenix, were later also invited to the trip, and both of them had words of praise for Malta. All three were taken to visit archaeological, historical and scenic sites that form part of Malta’s tourist product, and their visit ended with a well-attended book signing session, all organised by the Malta Tourism Authority.

“It’s an incredibly energetic country,” Brown said. “People seem to be very proud of what’s happened here, whether it’s the temples, the history, the defence during the various wars, holding on to their own language, and doing their own thing in a very real way. What I can see is Malta and the Maltese carving their own identity in a world where many places are becoming the same.”

“It’s amazing,” Morrison added. “The amount of history and scenery here is astounding and everywhere we go is another picture perfect site to see.”

The probability now is that Malta will have a bigger presence in future books by these three writers. “Every time I put Malta in my books, I think of what I can do more,” Kuzneski said.  “It could be an archaeological mystery with something to do with Malta, or perhaps having the villain of a story living in Malta and then having the team come here to get him and there will be chasing in the streets. But I definitely have a couple of ideas cooking in my brain and the more I’m here the more ideas I’m going to get. And Malta will definitely be appearing in the pages in the future.”

Brown said it would be crazy not to think of Malta as a place where a story can be set. “Whether it’s a historical book taking place in one of your eras of the past or whether it’s a modern book where the characters are living today” are but two ideas. “We’ve been around the Valletta harbour and there are several fantastic ideas on how to use that history and those scenes to bring them alive for readers.”

“I’ve already had a number of ideas how to feature Malta because there is so much history. I feature a lot of history in my books I can already see how I can do that. I also write action thrillers so there are lots of great locations such as the narrow streets of Mdina,” Morrison said.

Author of 10 bestselling books including Sign of the Cross, The Prophecy and The Hunters, Kuzneski said that he was always fascinated by writing. “When I was a kid I always had books around my house. My parents always liked to read and from a very young age I liked to tell stories. In fifth grade I wrote a book called The Monster’s Cookbook and it was so impressive to my teacher she actually had it bound and put in the school’s library. Unfortunately I went into a severe slump and did not write another book for 20 years but I have always wanted to be a writer and to have the chance to do it now for a living is a dream come true”.

Now, one of his books will be turned into a film. Filming of The Hunters will start in the next few months, with the release of the film expected in late 2016 or early 2017, and Kuzneski hopes it will be the first of many. “The first book (in The Hunters series) has been optioned and the producers that optioned the book actually like the second book in the series even better than the first. So the goal is definitely to film a sequel. The producers have read a first draft of the third book and they’re thrilled with it as well so I’m hoping that this will be the first of many.”

Morrison and Brown have had a different experience, that of co-writing books with the legendary Clive Cussler.

Brown, whose book The Storm, co-written with Cussler, debuted at the top of the New York Times bestselling list in 2012, said he was extremely nervous when he met Cussler for the first time. “He cracked a few jokes and made me feel at home and we just sat down and started working. I don’t know how it is to work with anyone else but he makes it fun and interesting. He has a way of imparting knowledge to you without you realising that’s what he’s doing. We have these brainstorming sessions in his office and we sit around and talk about ideas. I’m trying to impress him because basically he’s the boss and what will happen is that I throw out an idea, he’ll throw out an idea ... we always try to top each other. Usually, it’s a lot of fun but it’s also frustrating because no matter how good my idea is, he always has a better one.”

Like Kuzneski and Brown, Boyd says Cussler is the writer who made him fall in love with thrillers. “I’ve been reading his books for 35 years and he’s the one who got me interested in reading and writing thrillers in the first place. It’s an honour and a privilege to be working with my hero. He’s a great guy, a legend in the business and a master of thrillers and I love working with him.”

But breaking into the book industry is not easy. “I never thought I could be a writer,” Morrison said. “I always loved thrillers but it took me a while to realise that I could create my own story and so when I got the idea to write I made a deal with my wife. I wanted to write full-time and she wanted to go to medical school. So I put her through nine years of medical school with the agreement that when she was done, I quit my job and get nine years to become a published author. I did it in five years.”

Brown always wanted to be a writer but it took him 15 years to get his first book published. “I went through other careers before I finally got down to business and started writing. I started off as a pilot, spent four years learning to fly, then I could not get a job so that was when I decided to sit down and write a book and I thought it would take about a year and then I’d be rich, drive around in one of the yachts out there and... 15 years later I finally got a publishing contract. So it was a long road but it was great.” Brown also worked as a lawyer before becoming a full-time author.

Staying on top is not easy either.

“It is very hard to break into the writing business,” Morrison said. “It took me three books. I did not get published until my third book but I eventually went back and got the first two books that I wrote published. But staying published is not a guarantee. You have to keep delivering with every single book; otherwise you won’t continue to publish.”

For Brown, “everything is difficult whatever you do in life and both of those things are equally as hard. I think it’s easier to be motivated at the start because you are so excited to do it. The biggest danger is becoming complacent. You’re not doing your best work and sooner or later everybody will notice. I think it’s the difference between climbing up a mountain and walking along the top. If you slip you’re going to fall just as bad either way.”


Video Paul Jones and MTA


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