Please welcome author Joseph Finder, as he talks
with NMR about his new corporate thriller, POWER PLAY!
1. Congratulations on your new title, Power
Play! Tell us a bit about it.
POWER PLAY drops junior manager Jake Landry into a high-level corporate
planning retreat in a remote wilderness location. Jake's an ordinary guy
who's there as a last-minute substitute for his boss, and he's way out of
his league especially since the only person there he knows is his
ex-girlfriend, Ali, who's now assistant to the CEO.
When a band of backwoods hunters crash the opening-night dinner, the
executives suddenly find themselves held hostage by armed men who, as it
turns out, are after the largest ransom in history. And Jake, who wasn't
supposed to be there, is the only one who can save them.
2. Many of your more recently published titles
take place a bit closer to
the boardroom, so did you have some fun taking these guys out of their
business suits and letting them loose in the great outdoors?
A lot of senior executives are super-competitive, and I wanted to see how
that would translate into a setting like this one. You put them out into
the wilderness, outside their usual setting, and the dynamics change. All
these guys are still trying to outdo each other, but the skills they use in
the office are not necessarily the skills that are going to keep them alive.
I loved the idea of matching up these swaggering executives with a younger
guy who's just better at this stuff than they are and with a female CEO
who doesn't have the same ideas of power.
3. It's obvious that you've done a lot of
research; covering it all from
how airplanes are built, to the possible threats executives face of being
kidnapped and held for ransom. Which of these did you find most interesting
when researching? Any surprises?
Companies exist that actually specialize in kidnap and ransom (K&R)
management. Insurance companies offer coverage for it, but it's all kept
Think about it: the CEO of Coca-Cola, say, goes to Mexico and gets
kidnapped. What happens then, and who's going to pay? The resources of a
company like that are vast, and it only depends on kidnappers being clever
enough to get away with it. Companies say they don't pay ransom, but
sometimes they do. They negotiate, but they pay.
Or sometimes they don't. Three Department of Defense contractors have been
held hostage in Colombia, for example, since 2003. FARC, the Colombia
rebel forces, are holding them, and the U.S. government doesn't negotiate
4. How forthcoming were companies in sharing the
risks they face and the
preventive measures they take from a scenario occurring such as in your new
For obvious reasons, no one wants to talk much about this on the record.
Corporate security executives I spoke with did tell me how nervous they are
about having their top officers traveling in some foreign countries.
And no one wants to talk about specific security measures but like
anything else, these are often crimes of opportunity. So the goal is to
reduce a kidnapper's opportunity to get to the target.
5. It is interesting how higher level executives
are insured in larger
corporations, do you think this might actually add to the threat they can
Yes, it does -- the fact that these top execs are insured for so much can
increase their attractiveness as targets. Secrecy is a requirement of most
of these policies. It was one of the things that made this so hard to
In the U.S., it's very hard for anyone to get away with kidnapping; tracking
down kidnappers is something the FBI is good at. In other countries, where
there is no FBI, kidnappers have more opportunities.
6. This is a very high-action title, and one
can't help but imagine what a
great movie it would make, any plans for this at all?
Not yet, but I'm always interested in the possibility. There's been a
flattering amount of interest, but what's important to me is that anyone who
wants to make this movie understands that it's not "Die Hard Without a
Blackberry." I'd want to preserve the human dimensions.
7. How did you feel about that whole experience
when your novel High
Crimes was made into a movie? Is this something you would enjoy going
HIGH CRIMES was a great experience, and I even got to be on set, in a small
role as an assistant military prosecutor. It's fascinating to watch the
process of turning a book into a visual narrative, and I'd be glad to go
through it again with another group of filmmakers as good as Carl Franklin,
Yuri Zeltser and Cary Bickley, and Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.
8. So just out of curiosity, why do you prefer
to stick with writing the
stand-alone novel as opposed to a serial?
Because I write about ordinary people thrust into extraordinary
circumstances, I've always felt that by the end of each book, my main
characters have gone through enough. I mean, think about Nick Conover in
Company Man or Jason Steadman in Killer Instinct by the end of those
books, they've run for their lives, they've had to defend their families
against the worst possible dangers, and they've done things that would give
most of us nightmares. How could I put these guys through the wringer
But in fact, I've just signed a four-book contract with St. Martin's for a
serial that features a recurring character. He's a high-level corporate
security consultant, and that's all I'm saying about it for now.
9. As an author of both international espionage
thrillers and corporate
crime thrillers, which of these do you find yourself enjoying writing more,
or is there a preference either way?
When I started writing Paranoia, I was amazed at how much material the
high-level business world offers the thriller writer. It has all of the
raw material: greed, ambition, back-stabbing, disloyalty, vast sums of money
and, as we see in the business pages, all too often a lack of any
It's an environment ripe for corruption and crime, but the types of
corruption and crime and the people involved are not that different from the
ones in my earlier political espionage thrillers. In fact, Paranoia was all
about the idea that corporations use tradecraft to compete against each
I said I wouldn't talk about the series, but I think the series is going to
combine a lot of the elements of the earlier, international novels with the
business-world skullduggery of the more recent books. That's my goal.
10. So what's in your own reading stack right
Jeff Abbott's forthcoming novel, COLLISION; Lisa Gardner's HIDE; WHO IS
CONRAD HIRST? by Kevin Wignall.
11. And, finally, what can fans look forward to in
your next outing??
It'll be the first in this new series and really, I've said too much
Thanks, Joe, as always a pleasure!
Joseph Finder is the author of the New York Times
bestsellers KILLER INSTINCT, COMPANY MAN, and PARANOIA. His latest, POWER PLAY,
will be published on August 21. His novel HIGH CRIMES
was made into an Ashley Judd/Morgan Freeman movie. He also writes occasionally
about the spy business for the New York Times, reviews books for the
Times Book Review, and writes for Hollywood. He lives in Boston with his
wife, daughter, and golden retriever, Mia.
For more information on Joseph Finder, please
visit his website at: