Interview with Crime Writer Jeff Lindsay — S. 5, Ep. 15 — Debbi Mack

Riley Wolfe is a master thief, maybe the best in the world. And the thing about him is for Riley, it’s not about the money, it’s about the challenge.

Debbi: Very interesting. I don’t know if you did this consciously or unconsciously or if there’s even a relationship, but there was part of what I saw in Riley was the Saint actually.

Dexter is a sociopath. He doesn’t have the empathy bump. He doesn’t feel for his victims or anything else. With Riley, he’s not a sociopath. But he’s so driven. I’m sure you’ve known people who get so involved in doing a task, they get blinders on and they don’t even notice that they’re doing collateral damage around them. And that’s more what Riley is.

Debbi: So the darkness for Riley is more like a denial.

On ending the Dexter series: It was like getting a divorce or having a loved one die or something. I went through the five stages of grief before I finally retreated into my normal anxiety and neurosis. And I really didn’t want to stop because all my life I’ve wanted to be writing a series.

Debbi: Yeah, be careful what you wish for, huh? Can you give us a brief description of the story in Just Watch Me?

I’ve always been more about character than plot or anything else. That’s another reason I worked so hard and worked with psychologists to develop the characters. That’s what interests me. Even minor characters in my books.

Debbi: Well, it’s a sign of a good writer, too.

[W]riting is not really a job. It’s a vocation. The word vocation is, it’s based on the same root word as voice, vocal, vox. And what it means is you’re called to do it. You can’t stop. You have to do it.

And if you find that you don’t have to do it, that it is a job instead of a vocation, stop, go full time on arc welding. But for me, for a lot of writers I know I can’t even take a vacation. I’ll say to myself, “I’m going to sit in the sun and do nothing for a week.” And by the middle of the second day, I’m writing on cocktail napkins. So, that’s what it’s got to be. And if it isn’t that do something else.

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Debbi Mack

Debbi Mack

New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, including the Sam McRae Mystery series. Screenwriter, podcaster, and blogger. My website: www.debbimack.com.