Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on author Brad Meltzer. Brad is the author of at least 10 best-selling thrillers, best-selling non-fiction books, children’s books (which he started writing for his children), comic books, TV shows and a few TV series (He created the series, Jack & Bobby), among other things. There is so much more to say about him it would take the entire blog, so I will just list a few of his books:
(Fiction): The Escape Artist; The Inner Circle; The Book of Fate
(Non-Fiction): The First Conspiracy; The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America’s 16th President — And Why It Failed; Heroes for My Son and Heroes for My Daughter
(Children’s Books): I am Abraham Lincoln; I am Malala Yousafzai; I am Leonardo DaVinci
Brad, my first question to you is an easy one. Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)
Any and all bookstores – or at BradMeltzer.com
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
@BradMeltzer on Instagram, twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from your latest work?
Thrillers, kids books, non-fiction, comics, and really anything. 🙂
What kind of research went into writing The Lightning Rod? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
I do a lot of volunteer work with the USO, which is how I found the morticians at Dover Air Force Base. When our fallen troops come home, the morticians will spend twelve hours rewiring someone’s jaw and smoothing it over with clay so a family can see their son one last time. That’s a hero. Zig is based on them. He’s full of heart. As for Nola, since WWI, the U.S. government has had a painter on staff, who paints disasters as they happen, from storming the beaches of Normandy, to 9/11. When I heard about these “war painters,” I thought it was such a crazy job, I said, “I want to meet him.” And they said, “Her. You want to meet her.” Right there, Nola was born.
What was the inspiration for The Lightning Rod? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
My inspiration was one of the best secrets I’ve ever had access to. The U.S government has a dozen top-secret warehouses across the country to prepare for chemical and biological attacks. It’s called the Strategic National Stockpile—the government’s plan for how to deal with the worst large-scale attacks and biological threats like COVID. That’s who handled Ebola in 2014. And Zika in 2016. And who would’ve been storing all the COVID-19 vaccines had they existed before the pandemic. It’s one of the hardest places to research. The only reason I got the info was because my research took place pre-COVID.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
I love Zig and Nola, our main characters. Zig is the side of me that believes that people are good. It’s a hard side to maintain these days. But it’s a side worth fighting for. And the real Zigs out there believe the same. They’ll rebuild a fallen soldier’s hand because a mother says she wants to hold her son’s hand one last time. As a writer, it does more than move me—it lets me test whether their view of the world is true. As for Nola, she won’t stop. She’ll never stop. She was given away as a child, like trash—then adopted by an abusive stepfather. Today, she believes she can fix the world through force, and sheer will, and punching people in the face—but as is always the case with people who are emotionally disconnected, there’s deep pain lurking underneath. What’s interesting to me, is seeing what else she’s hiding, especially from herself.
Brad, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, and good luck with the book!