Jon Land is the bestselling author over 25 novels including the Caitlin Strong novels (about a fifth-generation Texas ranger), the Ben Kamal and Danielle Barnea books (featuring a Palestinian detective and chief inspector of the Israeli police), and eleven thrillers starring Blaine McCracken, an exiled agent who knows 14 ways to kill a man in under two seconds – all high octane stuff.
In his latest novel, Land brings back Michael The Tyrant Tiranno, hero of Land’s bestselling novel, The Seven Sins. His new Tyrant novel, Black Scorpion, Tiranno takes on a worldwide human trafficking cabal.
In advance of the novel’s anticipated release on April 7th, Land stopped by Bish’s Beat for the bright lights and rubber hoses treatment …
CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT BLACK SCORPION: THE TYRANT REBORN?
I think it’s the most ambitious book I’ve ever done in terms of character, emotion and story. I say that not only because of its epic-like structure, but mostly because I’ve never written a book before that challenges its characters in so many ways. It challenges them with truth and the reality of their own natures contrasted against their fates, testing especially Michael Tiranno’s capacity to exceed his own limitations. He has become a classical, almost mythic hero in terms of the losses he suffers and stunning revelations about his own fate he must accept. All the while confronting a villain just as powerful as he is with whom he unknowingly shares an indelible bond. Great villains, they say, make great heroes and that’s truly the case here as Michael confronts an all-powerful criminal organization with a plot to do incredible harm to the country and world in the offing. To stop them, Michael must become a different man than he is when the book starts out, he must evolve, literally, into something more and accepting that fate comes to define both him as a hero and the story as a whole.
WHAT DREW YOU TO WRITE THRILLER AND MYSTERY NOVELS?
Well, as the great Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “You can only write what you would read if someone else had written it.” So, when I chose to be a writer, or should I say when writing chose me, I gravitated to what came most naturally to me. I’d grown up reading all of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels while away at camp for the summer, this after falling in love with the early films starring Sean Connery as Bond. The structure of those films has been more influential in my writing than any other individual factor. As I got older while in college, I began devouring the books of Stephen King, Robert Ludum, Clive Cussler and David Morrell – all great storytellers above everything else, and I realized that’s what I wanted to be too.
MICHAEL TIRANNO, IS BASED ON A CHARACTER ORIGINALLY CREATED BY FABRIZIO BOCCARDI. HOW DO YOU WORK WITH HIM TO DEVELOP EACH STORY?
It’s an extremely close relationship since we basically sweat every single plot development, every single scene – hell, every single line. It can be extremely frustrating at times because I’m used to working alone in a box without interference or micromanaging. Quite frankly, I don’t enjoy the process at all, but have to admit twice now it’s resulted in far better books than I could have written on my own. Fabrizio isn’t a writer or a storyteller and he doesn’t grasp all the intricacies of structure. But he has wonderful instincts that are right more often than not and form the perfect complement to my experience and talents. Look, Michael Tiranno is his baby. He turned him over to me to build, but he could never be expected to let him go altogether. Ultimately, I think we work so well together because our passion is balanced by our willingness to compromise toward telling the best story we possibly can. It may drive me crazy at times, but the ends justify the means
HOW DO YOU APPROACH WRITING A BOOK LIKE BLACK SCORPION?
It all starts with the hero, Michael Tiranno. I started Black Scorpion with the premise that in the five years since the events depicted in The Seven Sins, Michael hasn’t changed very much. He’s still pretty much the same man we left at the end of the first book, a tyrant consumed by his desire to expand his empire and holdings. The whole essence of Black Scorpion is watching him evolve into something entirely different – Still a tyrant, yes, but a tyrant for good. A superhero without a mask or cape. We watch his view of his entire place in the world change, forced upon him by the shattering truths and tragedy he encounters along the way. And in that respect his quest changes from the pursuit of riches and power to self-fulfillment and self-actualization. So now, above everything else, Michael Tiranno’s character is defined by his obsession for standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Bullies aren’t confined to the schoolyard and he won’t tolerate them under any circumstances. He’s spent his life trying to find the security he lost that day his parents were murdered and once there he uses the power that comes with it to defend those who need him the most. My point is your hero defines the very nature of a book with the sprawl and ambition of Black Scorpion. The book will rise or fall based on how the audience responds to him and you have to approach a book like this with that in mind.
YOU’VE WRITTEN A NUMBER OF SERIES, IS THIS ONE YOUR FAVORITE TO WRITE?
Frankly, no, that would be my Caitlin Strong Texas Ranger series. I’m not saying the books in that series are better than Black Scorpion because I think in many ways Black Scorpion is the most ambitious and best realized book in terms of vision I’ve ever written. I’m talking about the process. Black Scorpion is work for hire and I have an obligation to serve the needs of the Tyrant character’s creator, Fabrizio Boccardi That robs this series, and me, of the spontaneity that defines me as a writer, since I don’t outline. Writing with someone looking over your shoulder isn’t nearly as fun or gratifying. But, that said, the end result of both this book and its prequel, The Seven Sins, proves I’m capable of adapting.
DID YOU HAVE TO DO ANY SPECIAL RESEARCH TO WRITE THIS BOOK?
It’s always that way with thrillers that involve as much cutting edge technology as this one does. But so much of it is speculative, based not on what exists now but will eventually, that I’m essentially forced to go back to school on subjects I had very little knowledge of to start out. And not just pertaining to the villain’s world-threatening plot either. I had to figure out how to construct Black Scorpion’s lair inside a mountain, and needed to concoct a way for a commando team to access it from beneath a manmade lake in the climax. It’s all very James Bond-like and, as with Bond, with every challenge comes up a wonderful opportunity to do something no one’s ever done before
WHAT DO YOU HOPE READERS TAKE AWAY FROM OR FEEL WHEN READING THIS BOOK?
First and foremost I want them to come away feeling they weren’t just entertained, but spirited away into the fabric of the story. But I want them to take away from that what makes a man a hero. That a man’s fate isn’t always his to define, as personified in Michael’s case by the mystical relic medallion that’s the one possession he has left from his family. It’s both his talisman and curse, as it has been for other men of great power who’ve possessed it through history. And while that medallion might fuel Michael’s quest, ultimately that quest is about saving a woman he loves and preserving the world he has built he now wants to share with her. So as broad and ambitious as this book is, like all great stories, it’s ultimately very simple.
IS A THIRD ADVENTURE OF THE TYRANT IN THE WORKS?
No, not yet. But there’s a whole bunch of happening in film and comic books, so stay tuned.
ON THE WEB:
THE BLACK SCORPION: THE TYRANT REBORN
The next adventure of The Seven Sins' Michael "The Tyrant" Tiranno, Jon Land's Black Scorpion is a pulse pounding action-thriller as he takes on a worldwide human trafficking cabal.
Five years have passed since Michael Tiranno saved the city of Las Vegas from a terrorist attack. And now a new enemy has surfaced in Eastern Europe in the form of an all-powerful organization called Black Scorpion. Once a victim of human trafficking himself, the shadowy group's crazed leader, Vladimir Dracu, has become the mastermind behind the scourge's infestation on a global scale. And now he's set his sights on Michael Tiranno for reasons birthed in a painful secret past that have scarred both men.
Already facing a myriad of problems, Michael once more must rise to the challenge of confronting an all-powerful enemy who is exploiting and ravaging innocents all across the globe and has set nothing less than all of America as its new victim. Black Scorpion has also taken the woman Michael loves hostage:?Scarlett Swan, a beautiful archaeologist who was following the dangerous trail of the origins of the ancient relic that both defines and empowers Michael, a discovery that could change history and the perception of mankind's very origins.
With the deck and the odds stacked against him, Michael must come to learn and embrace his true destiny in becoming the Tyrant reborn as a dark knight to triumph over ultimate evil and stop the sting of Black Scorpion from undermining all of the United States and plunging Las Vegas into chaos and anarchy.
A major production for a feature film is in active development in Hollywood based on the franchised character of Michael Tiranno, the Tyrant. The film will be based on the blended adaptation of Black Scorpion and its predecessor, The Seven Sins, which both have also been licensed to DC Comics for comic books and graphic novels publications worldwide.