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Patrick Lee

e-interviewed by Martina Bexte
(March 2011)

Patrick Lee was born in west Michigan in 1976. He played an unhealthy amount of Nintendo in his teens and sold two screenplays to movie studios in Los Angeles in his twenties, but neither was ever produced. Now in his thirties, he's sold the first three books of his Travis Chase series to HarperCollins.

Patrick's debut novel, The Breach introduces readers to ex-cop/ex-con Travis Chase shortly after his release from prison. While hiking in Alaska, Travis stumbles across a downed 747 filled with bullet-riddled bodies, including that of the President's wife. She holds a blood-spattered note with instructions to locate and kill hostiles holding two captives nearby. And all of that happens in just the first couple of chapters.

Travis and surviving hostage Paige Campbell - who's part of a secretive organization named Tangent - go on to face down various sets of bad guys and ultimately, a rogue scientist who has his own dark agenda with regard to otherworldly anomalies called entities. Patrick's latest release, Ghost Country, offers readers another edge-of-your-seat thrill ride as Travis, Paige, and a former president try to avert doomsday.

Q: Your Travis Chase series is an unusual blend of thriller, horror, and SF (along with a healthy dose of paranoia) - do you enjoy reading those genres and if so, did they influence you as a writer?

A: I'm sure books in those genres have had a huge influence on me. I grew up reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz, and I've always been fascinated by stories that take very strange concepts (an alien ship buried in the woods behind someone's house, for example) and deal with them as if they were absolutely real.

Q: In some ways both your novels are reminiscent of the X-files and the more recent Fringe series what do you think accounts for the continued popularity of these types of stories?

A: I think it's always great if a story taps into the audience's sense of wonder, even as the events in the story are driven by tension, fear, and conflict. Curiosity seems to be hardwired into us, and a series or book or film that delves into the unknown probably benefits quite a bit from that.

Q: What makes your hero different from other thriller heroes out there right now?

A: That's a tricky one for me. I can at least say that I've tried to keep Travis as real as possible. He always seeks the best outcome for a situation, even if his thinking is a little darker than most of ours would be. I think of it like this: Travis responds to situations probably the same way you or I would--if you or I had a fifteen-year prison stint in our recent history.

Q: Tangent operative Paige Campbell also plays a strong role in the series, not only as a scientist, but also as a kick butt heroine. Did you plan this, or did she evolve into something more than you expected?

A: I don't remember planning it very far ahead, but I think it became obvious to me, even a few pages into her first scene, that she had to be pretty tough just to still be alive after the things she'd already gone through. And as the first book progressed, I found it made more and more sense that Paige would have some fairly serious training, in terms of dealing with dangerous situations. That's one of the most fun things about writing a book: letting the unfolding story actually determine certain things that you might not have expected up front.

Q: Both your novels are written with a palpable cinematic feel - any chance that fans will see Travis and Paige on movie screens?

A: I would be very happy to see that happen! For the moment, probably the best thing I can say is that my fingers are crossed.

Q: If any of the fictional scenarios you propose in your novels were to actually happen, how do you think governments, and society in general, would react?

A: I think various governments would be at least as secretive as they are in the books, though probably a lot less cooperative with one another, and far less dedicated to serving anything but their own interests. I hate to say it, but I suspect that in real life, a resource like the Breach would probably end up in the hands of just about the least responsible people in the world.

Q: Will the sinister Whisper entity you introduced in The Breach make a return appearance or are other entities coming up in future books that play an even more menacing role?

A: There are certainly some creepy new pieces of technology coming down the pipeline for Travis and the others to deal with in later books. I probably shouldn't say too much about whether the Whisper itself will show up again, but I can safely say that the unanswered questions surrounding it will be resolved in the end.

Q: Are you eventually going to enlighten readers about who, or what, created the entities?

A: I think I can say this much without risking any spoilers: the third book, titled Deep Sky and hopefully hitting stores around the end of this year, is the end of the series. It involves Travis and Paige being drawn into some aspects of the Breach that have been kept secret from almost everyone in Tangent for over thirty years, and which deal pretty directly with what's on the other side.
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