I'm delighted to welcome to my blog today Robert Bidinotto, author of the bestselling novel Hunter. Set in Washington, D.C. during a wave of vigilante killings, it’s the tale of two strong, idealistic loners. Dylan Hunter is a crusading journalist with a mysterious past, working to expose outrageous leniency in the criminal justice system. Annie Woods is a beautiful security officer at the CIA, sworn to track down the unknown assassin of an Agency employee. They meet after a brutal criminal act of violence against mutual friends.
As the parallel investigations by the CIA and the police begin to intersect in surprising ways, Dylan and Annie fall passionately in love. But they don’t realize that the shocking secrets they’re hiding from each other are propelling them headlong toward shattering personal conflicts—or that a terrifying predator is targeting them both.
I can vouch for the fact it's a great novel. Now, on with the interview...
You say that the failings of the US legal system formed the basis for Hunter's plot. Will future novels incorporate other areas of interest to you, such as environmental issues?
Maggie, my nonfiction background was writing serious journalism and commentary about current events and controversial topics. Now that I’ve turned to fiction, I find that I’m incapable of writing stories that do not have serious themes. Because I write thrillers, readers have every right to expect, above all, entertainment—colorful characters in fast-paced plots with lots of action, romance, and suspense. But in a Bidinotto thriller they also will find provocative perspectives on important topics. My goal is not only to keep readers turning pages late into the night, but also to encourage them to rethink the conventional “wisdom” on various topics. So, call these “thrillers for thinking people.”
Let me stress that, in my stories, the action doesn’t grind to a halt while characters just sit around pontificating at each other. That’s boring. Instead, I weave important themes into the very fabric of the characters and plot. The conflicts, confrontations, suspense, and story resolution all revolve around the characters’ values and viewpoints. So, the reader’s emotional investments in the characters and their fates become part and parcel of the ideas.
That was my approach in Hunter: it dramatizes corruption and leniency in the criminal justice system. But readers will find even more controversial themes in Bad Deeds. It’s set in the environmentalist movement—another long-time interest of mine. But let me assure you, my perspective is not “politically correct.” And the third novel in the series, Winner Takes All, tackles just about every political controversy that has emerged since the 2016 presidential election. It is the most complex story yet—and many readers think it’s the best.
Let’s imagine a showdown between Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and your Dylan Hunter. Reacher has the brawn, but can he compete against Dylan Hunter’s brain? Tell us how Dylan Hunter would win!
Ouch. First of all, I love the Jack Reacher character and have enjoyed most of Lee Child’s thrillers. Second, fictional characters—whether Lee’s or mine—can do pretty much anything the author wants them to; so Lee and I can always imagine and invent ways in which Dylan Hunter could defeat Jack, or vice versa. Now, if you’re asking about a physical confrontation between the very smart, very ruthless, and very large Jack Reacher, vs. the very smart, very ruthless, and considerably smaller Dylan Hunter—well, I don’t think the boxing commissioner would allow such a match.
Both guys also fight dirty, however, and maybe Dylan would have a few tricks up his sleeve that Jack wouldn’t expect. Who knows? Either way, things would get bloody. If your question is about something more than a physical fight—well, I’m sure that Dylan, with his money and background, could come up with a lot of high-tech spy gadgets to even the odds.
With its passionate love affair between Dylan and Annie, Hunter marries crime fiction with romance. Do you see yourself ever joining the growing ranks of male romantic novelists? Or perhaps exploring other genres besides crime/thrillers?
Pure romance novels? Probably not. However, after I’ve given Dylan a good run, I do have ideas for novels outside the thriller genre. Stay tuned.
To what extent has your interest in philosophy, in particular the Objectivist movement of Ayn Rand, influenced the character of Dylan Hunter?