In Final Mercy I set out to write a thriller with well-wrought characters and a can’t-put-it-down plot.
Who are your favorite characters in the story?
I grew extremely attached, of course, to my co-protagonists, Jack Forester and Zellie Anderson. They are bright, resourceful and good-hearted people who’ve had to overcome considerable odds to be where they are in life, but for reasons beyond their control, they are also quite lonely. In other, words, they need each other, and I enjoyed seeing their relationship blossom. It was also exhilarating to create a villain like Bryson Witner — trying to make his burgeoning craziness as believable and frightening as possible. I also loved the character of Jack’s best friend from childhood, Tim Bonadonna, who is now a security guard at the medical center and an amateur actor who resembles Falstaff in more ways than one.
Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?
I must admit I really liked a scene near the middle of the book where an intern is dealing with a terrible case in the ER and calls the surgical chief resident for help. Here’s a slice of it from the chief resident’s perspective:
Thirty-year-old Sarah Hopper, the on-duty surgical chief resident, was in the ICU checking on a subclavian line she’d placed that afternoon when the ER paged. Her first impulse was to run down and help out. Experience had taught her, however, that if she didn’t put up at least a token resistance, she would soon be busy beyond any human’s capacity. So, she strolled to the phone and called the ER desk.
“Hopper here. What’s up?”
“They need you in trauma,” said the ER ward clerk.
“I assumed that much. For what?”
“Because there’s a patient dying down here.”
“That doesn’t tell me anything,” Hopper retorted.
“Listen, all I know is that a very good nurse told me to page you STAT, okay?”
This didn’t sound like the usual bullshit. Sarah Hopper felt her heart quicken.
The landing craft was grinding against the beach, the ramp swinging down and bullets thwacking metal.
If your current release were to be turned into a movie, who would you love to see play what characters and why?
In my mind’s eye I envision Jude Law playing Jack Forester — with his intense, honest, energetic face. For Zellie Andersen, Gwyneth Paltrow would be a good casting choice. Lovely, brilliant, sensitive, shy — that’s Zellie. For some reason I can picture George Clooney playing the villain Bryson Witner. Witner oozes charm, but has an over-the-top hidden crazy side. Sorry, George. I mean that as a compliment to your skills.