First Look at the Crime
James Grippando's Found Money
Sizzling case of lost and found family secrets

Meet the Author
James Grippando, Mystery / suspense best-selling author of Found Money/ James GrippandoJames M. Grippando is a trial lawyer who lives in south Florida. His is the author of Pardon, The Informant, and The Abduction.


A Further Look
• "Found Money" First Chapter
• "The Abduction" First Chapter
• Buy "Found Money"
• Buy "The Abduction"
• Meet the Author
• Discuss
The HarperPaperbacks interview with James Grippando:

Q: Your latest book, The Informant, deals with a serial killer whose barbaric method of murder is sure to leave your reader speechless. Or should I say tongue-tied? How did you come up with the serial killer's signature of murder?
A: I don't believe in using violence for shock value. That is to say, I didn't think of the signature and then build a character around it. I created a character and then developed a signature that suited his complex motivations. John Douglas, the FBI agent who pioneered criminal profiling, often says that to understand the serial killer, you have to look closely at his work. I took that advice to heart in choosing the killer's signature in The Informant.
Q: The descriptions you gave of the FBI and their part in catching the serial killer read with the authenticity of an insider, as says former FBI agent John Douglas. The events that led up to catching the serial killer involved profiler and tactical knowledge. What kind of research did you do for this?
A: I started by reading the leading books on profiling and serial killers. I read everything I could get my hands on. I reviewed FBI training materials -- slides, videotapes, case studies. Once I felt educated, I talked with professionals who actually do this kind of work. One of the more helpful sources was a psychiatrist who examines criminal defendants to determine whether they're competent to stand trial. The most help, however, came from law enforcement personnel, particularly an FBI agent with whom I kept a running dialogue throughout the drafting of the novel.
Q: Nobody likes a snitch. The serial killer takes his dislike of squealers to the extreme. How do you feel about snitches?
A: "Snitch" has such a negative connotation, but it all depends on the person's motivation. Whistleblowers who expose corruption in government or dangers in work areas, for example, are often labeled "Snitches" even though their only motivation is to clear their conscience or to correct an injustice. Others spill their guts only if there is something in it for them -- be it money, a perverse satisfaction in seeing others get in trouble or the chance to go on television talk shows and bask in their fifteen minutes of fame. Those are the ones nobody likes, and I don't like them either.
Q: At the root of this novel is a very moving love story between Mike Posten and his wife Karen. It is incredible how you were able to link two seemingly incongruous things like a serial killer's impetus for murder and a failing marriage. At the heart of both problems seems to lie the question of trust, and the risk of betrayal. How did you see the role of trust unfold and perform in this novel?
A: The basic question is, who can we trust, why and what are the consequences? Karen sums it all up when she tells Mike, "Only two kinds of people can talk without inhibitions. Strangers or lovers. Everyone in between is just negotiating."
Q: Out of all the characters in your novel, who do you identify with the most, and why?
A: Strangely, I'd have to say Karen Posten, the wife of the male lead, Michael Posten. She agonizes about falling into that no-man's land between strangers and lovers, where there is no such thing as total honesty.
Q: The Informant has many plot twists and turns. The organization and structure seem quite demanding. How do you develop your ideas for your books? Do you find outlines helpful?
A: In the most general sense, I develop ideas by observing events and playing the "what if" game. The trigger for The Informant was the whole notion of "checkbook journalism." Some journalists will pay sources, others think it's sleazy. I asked myself, "What if a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter could help catch a serial killer only by breaking his own rules and paying an anonymous informant?" All of my writing starts this way, usually with one sentence. Once I have the hook, I expand the idea to a paragraph, then to a page, then to a three page synopsis. Then I put it down for a while. If I still like it when I come back in a week or so, I develop an outline. Outlining for me is absolutely essential. I like a complex plot, but as a reader I hate to be confused. I spent three months on the outline for The Informant before I ever started writing.
Q: Besides your writing career, you have also practiced trial law. In what ways do your law background and experiences help your writing?
A: Being a good trial lawyer means being a good storyteller. I don't mean that in a negative way. You don't make things up as a lawyer, but to persuade a jury you have to present the facts in a way that is both compelling and believable. You have to develop a theme, decide which arguments to make and then figure out the best way to make them -- all within the time constraints established by the judge and by the attention span of the jurors. More than anything, having stood in a courtroom before a judge and jury has made me more sensitive to readers. I don't bore them with digressions. I don't use two pages when two sentences are enough. And I don't bill them by the hour.
Q: The hardcover of your new book, The Abduction, is coming out in April of 1998. Can you tease us with a little description of the storyline?
A: The Abduction is the first thriller about a presidential election in which neither candidate is a white male. It pits a charismatic white woman running against the nation's most respected black man. A week before the November 2000 election, a child related to one of the candidates is abducted in what only appears to be politically motivated kidnapping. The real motivations run deeper, more personal. Intrigued?
Q: Do you have any advice to give for potential authors who are trying to get published?
A: Perseverance. My first published novel was The Pardon in 1994. I say "published" novel because my actual first novel is an unpublished script sitting on a shelf in my closet. It took me four years to write it, but it didn1t sell. I felt like quitting, but my agent encouraged me to write another. Over the next seven months, I wrote The Pardon. It sold to HarperCollins in two weeks and is now available all over the world in nearly a dozen different languages. Just think if I had given up.

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