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Strength of Character

David Baldacci’s best-selling thrillers pull you into his characters’ heads.


Throughout his education and during almost 10 years of practicing law at a Washington law firm, Baldacci continued to write. “That was my outlet. I loved to tell stories and to write,” Baldacci says. “And then, eventually I was able to make a living at it. But it was a long time in the coming. It’s not like anything happened overnight, unless you count about eight thousand nights.”

Baldacci’s desire to write new and different kinds of books is exactly what separates him from other contemporary writers. While many authors of fast-paced thrillers seem to get mired in writing the same kind of book over and over again, Baldacci’s commitment to following his interests insures a fresh read every time. “I don’t necessarily write about things that I know a lot about, but I write about things that I am really interested in,” Baldacci says. “I think my passion for going to the last inch to get the details on my topic is what people enjoy in my books. I always thought the minute I start getting bored with what I’m writing, the reader will get bored with it because my boredom will show up on the pages. So each time I try to challenge myself.”

While many modern-day thrillers focus only on the action of the plot, Baldacci delves deep into the psychology of the characters who drive his books. In doing the research for the book “Last Man Standing” (Warner Books, $7.99) Baldacci interviewed many members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s hostage rescue team to create his main character, Web London. In his latest book he tells the story of two disgraced ex-Secret Service agents who try to unravel a mystery from their pasts.

“I think that if you have a novel that doesn’t deal with the hearts and souls and the heads of the people you write about, then what are you writing?” Baldacci says. “For me the heart and soul of a story are the people you put into these situations. And if you don’t know them then, what are you doing as a writer?”

In the end, what is most important to Baldacci is the story itself, and as readers we all benefit from the time and dedication he puts into telling it. “I want to sit down each time I write and say ‘I brought the best that I could to this and I’m writing about things that forced me to be different each time out of the box.’” S

David Baldacci will read from his latest novel, “Split Second,” on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Virginia Center Commons Barnes & Noble, 9850 Brook Road.

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