David Baldacci Interview: The Christmas Train

David BaldacciDavid Baldacci was born in Virginia, in 1960 where he continues to reside. He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia. He practiced law for nine years in Washington, D.C., as both a trial and a corporate lawyer.

He has published eight novels -- Wish You Well, Absolute Power, Total Control, The Winner, The Simple Truth, Saving Faith, Last Man Standing and The Christmas Train. He has also published a novella for the Dutch entitled Office Hours, written for Holland's Year 2000 "Month of the Thriller." He was the featured writer for this year's celebration. His works have also been published in the Washington Post, USA Today Magazine, Britain's Tatler Magazine and New Statesman, UVA Lawyer, Italy's Panorama Magazine, and Germany's Welt am Sonntag. He has also authored six original screenplays.

Baldacci's latest novel is The Christmas Train (Warner Books, 2002). In The Christmas Train, disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington to L.A. in time for Christmas. Forced to take the train across the country because of a slight "misunderstanding" at airport security, he begins a journey of self-discovery and rude awakenings, mysterious goings-on and thrilling adventures, screwball escapades and holiday magic. The book has since been made into a Hallmark movie starring Dermot Mulroney, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Danny Glover.

Cover of The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
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How would you describe the story in The Christmas Train?

It's the classic travel adventure tale. A runaway screwball comedy on a train, separated by intense moments of personal strife, quiet introspection, romantic mayhem and puzzling mysteries.

What was the inspiration for The Christmas Train?

I took a train across the country, made a lot of notes, observations, overheard priceless dialogue and, in sum, amassed enormous material that was too good to waste. Plus, I love trains! Every writer should.

What is your favorite holiday memory?

When I was in 7th grade my father took a week off from work, something he never did that time of year. I was the lead in the school play and he would pick me up after rehearsal and the whole family would go off and do something fun together. It meant a lot to me.

What book would you like to receive this holiday season?

The manuscript that will be my sister's first published novel.

How and why did you become a writer?

I love to read. I wanted to make other people feel the magic of a good story and so I took up my pen too. I've always been a storyteller, since I was a child. And later, in adult life, I was a lawyer and thus learned a great deal about fiction writing.

What is your favorite book?

The one I'm currently working on. Seriously, it's hard to list one. Some favorites: Cider House Rules by John Irving, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, and Sophie's Choice by William Styron.

What would you consider your method of writing?

Being scared to death of the first blank page and turning that fear into energy. I also have always been curious about lots of things and I tend to write about subjects that intrigue me. I like to entertain and inform.

What would you consider the most rewarding part of the writer's life?

Setting your own working hours, no dress code and being paid to daydream.

What authors do you read?

Cover of Last Man Standing by David Baldacci
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John Irving, Anne Tyler, David McCullough, Walker Percy, Nelson Demille, William Styron, Arthur Conan Doyle, Sue Grafton, Agatha Christie, Patricia Cornwell, Patricia Highsmith, Elmore Leonard, Charles Dickens, and Tom Wolfe.

You are a great supporter of charities. Why do you feel so compelled to stay involved with charities?

You only need to see the results of a few good deeds in the faces of people you help and you'll be committed for life. There is so much need, and Americans are very generous. We're great at helping others, so come on!

What's next for David Baldacci?

Did I mention I have this blank page staring at me? More thrillers, more short stories, more scripts, more newspaper and magazine pieces, some op-ed pieces, working with my new family foundation - The Wish You Well Foundation, and lots and lots of initiatives with literacy.

(November, 2002)

Posted with permission of TWBookmark.com.