New novel will be released May 5
What: Celebration of John Lescroart’s 26th novel, “The Fall”
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 5
Where: Davis Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second St.
Note: Lescroart also will sign books on Friday, May 15, at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St.
To have lunch with author John Lescroart is to enjoy wonderful conversation about all kinds of topics.
Because he’s a longtime Davis resident — El Macero, to be specific — he is invested in the community. He has an office downtown that he frequents daily, and his daughter and son attended school here, both graduating from Davis High School.
Lescroart beams with pride and love when discussing his wife and children.
During lunch this week at Cafe Bernardo, the talk turned to good reads — he recently picked up “The Old Man and the Sea” again, which he described as “beautifully written, although essentially nothing happens.”
And as far as television, he confessed to an addiction to “The Voice,” and awe over Lady Gaga’s recent performance of “The Sound of Music” medley during the Academy Awards.
The conversation touched on his love of baseball, the joys of being so close to Lake Tahoe and electronic reading devices. Lescroart said he never actually thinks to use an e-reader, and instead keeps 25 or so new books sitting on his shelves that he chooses from when the mood is right.
He also said he won’t suffer through a book he’s not enjoying; he’s not afflicted with the need to finish reading something simply to say he finished it.
Lescroart is impressively forthcoming and humble, to the point where you can forget he is a bestselling author whose works have been translated into more than 20 languages and have topped the New York Times Bestseller List multiple times. His 26th novel, “The Fall,” will be available on May 5.
Fans will be happy to know this latest book features Abe Glitsky and Dismas Hardy, the homicide detective and defense attorney who appear in many of Lescroart’s stories.
When asked if Lescroart ever tired of coming up with new situations for his protagonists, he pointed to Patrick O’Brian and his 20 “books about two guys on a ship.” (O’Brian wrote the Aubrey-Maturin series that starts with “Master and Commander.”) He is inspired by the imagination and motivation that O’Brian mustered for his characters.
Lescroart admits he had a “bit of a crisis” around the 15th novel featuring his two main characters, but he roused his imagination to keep going. “Fans wanted more Abe and Dismas,” he said.
Does he have to use an elaborate chart system to remember all of the intricacies of his characters’ lives, such as if a character has suffered a loved one’s death?
No, he replied. It might sound corny, he admitted, but Abe and Dismas are “pals of mine. You’d remember if one of your friends’ mothers has died.”
Thinking of new plots and situations for Hardy and Glitsky could become tedious. But Lescroart does not allow them to be his constant companions. He avoids the urge to look at every situation as if it might be potential book material.
“I try not to think about it at home,” Lescroart said, or let it get in the way of his personal life.
But he is disciplined about writing. He sits at his computer in his downtown Davis office almost every day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. “You have to get into a weird place,” he explained, where you know something — a muse, or some untapped inspiration — will fill the pages.
So for example, when discussing the process for starting a book, Lescroart said, “you have to write a first true sentence,” a good inciting action.
In the case of “The Fall,” the first sentence is, “The body fell straight out of the sky.” From there, he said, you ask yourself questions about the female victim who has just died on the street below the Stockton Tunnel in San Francisco: Was she pushed? Did she jump?
Next, his writing process leads him to knowing that “certain things are going to happen after a death.” The cops will come, traffic will be terrible in San Francisco, etc.
A particularly interesting angle to his latest story is its seeming clairvoyance about an issue that is a now nationally notorious: Black Lives Matter. Because the victim in “The Fall” is an African-American female, part of Lescroart’s plot revolves around the idea that a black crime would not be taken as seriously as one involving a white subject.
The case has personal meaning to Detective Glitsky, who is black, and it likely will resonate with readers because of its association with current events.
The prolific Lescroart is already on to the next thing. The novel he is working on now, which has all new characters but doesn’t yet have a working title, “is so different from what I’ve written before,” Lescroart said. “It starts off with a couple of bad decisions, and things go south — and badly, for all the characters.”
Notes: Fun for his local fans are references to Lescroart’s hometown that appear in his books. Regularly set in San Francisco, the characters will sometimes venture to Davis. Lescroart has even auctioned off the honor of being a named character in his stories. A couple that he remembers are Judge W. Arvid Johnson, who appeared in “The Second Chair,” and Mary Patricia Whelan-Miille, who had roles in “Betrayal” and “The Keeper.”
— Reach Tanya Perez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8082. Follow her on Twitter at @enterprisetanya