Every book starts with a grab-bag of ideas. I sat down to write 61 Hours with six things on my mind. First was the title...it just popped into my head and stayed there (and I knew I wanted the 61 to be written in figures, not words, so if you’re the kind of reader who arranges your shelves alphabetically--I apologize!)
Second, I knew it would once again feature Jack Reacher...over the last 13 books he’s built up such enthusiasm and loyalty among readers I knew I’d be crazy not to keep on reporting his adventures.
Thirdly, I knew I wanted very, very cold weather. My fifth book, Echo Burning, was set in the west of Texas in a heat wave, and the extreme temperature was seen as a real character in the story, so I wanted to try the same thing again, but this time at the opposite end of the thermometer. I was a little nervous at first, because one of my early writer heroes was Alistair MacLean, who wrote cold weather so well. But most of his cold stories were set up on the polar ice cap, or above the Arctic Circle, and I knew Reacher would have no reason to go there. In the end I chose South Dakota in the depths of winter as a location, and I’ll know I’ve succeeded if you shiver over every page.
Fourth, fifth, and sixth, I had three names to work with--winners of your-name-as-a-character charity auction lots. A gentleman named Mark Salter helped out with autism research and asked for his mother’s name to be in the book--Mrs. Janet Salter; and then for two separate literacy projects, a man named Andrew Peterson won an auction, and the man who won the other wanted his wife’s name included--Susan Turner. All three winners made very generous donations to the various charities, so I decided it was only fair to make all three into important, central characters.
The only problem was...Mr. Turner asked that the character named after his wife have a romantic entanglement with Reacher. Read 61 Hours to see if he got his wish!