Author Andrew Grant is always looking for characters who are unpredictable. Sometimes their actions are appalling, and we remember them even if we can’t relate to them. Grant asks his readers to explore a new way of understanding people.
False Friend presents the concept of “personal terrorism,” the work of a person who wants attention more than he wants to make a political statement.
“One of the things that really interests me,” Grant explained, “is what drives people to do things which seem just extremely strange and extremely weird to everybody else. The people who do these things – they don’t get up in the morning and think, ‘Hey, I’m going to do something weird.’ They get up and they do what they think they need or should or must do. So what I really wanted to do was scratch the surface of what motivates people, so…I’ve read a lot about the kind of psychology of criminals and the memoirs of a lot of the FBI criminal profilers to try to understand what makes people do these incredible things.”
It’s the kind of research that can cause a writer to view everyone with compassion or suspicion, and Grant admits he leans toward suspicion. Not all of Grant’s characters are as observant as he is. In fact, some have reasons for not wanting to see what the reader can see.
“Without giving too much away, there’s one of the characters who could probably have figured out what was going on, and almost deliberately, willfully, didn’t. And if you talk about the idea of terrorism, be it international or domestic or even on a personal scale, there’s nearly always somebody who knows something about it and that probably could have stopped it if they‘d thought to, and there’s nearly always a reason for why they would rather bury their head in the sand," says Grant. "What makes someone stand up and say, ‘Wait, I think something bad is happening, and we need to investigate,’ and what makes other people just turn the other way?”
Grant doesn’t try to fool his readers. He genuinely wants his readers to participate in the process of solving the mystery.
“Yeah, well, I certainly want it to be possible for them to solve it," says Grant. "I think it’s almost a kind of honesty thing. If it gets to the end of the book and some guy that you’ve never heard of before rides in at the 11th hour, you feel cheated somehow.”
Author Andrew Grant talks with CapRadio’s Donna Apidone at a live CapRadio Reads event on January 10. Reservations at capradio.org/reads.