Contribution

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have written more than ten books as a team and are enjoying great success in the process. Even though they claim not to have seen each other face to face for ten years, their perfection of the collaboratory process is an inspiration to other aspiring collaborators, especially because each author also writes individually. Although these solo novels have some of the trademark action and suspense of the collaborations, there does not seem to be quite as much richness and layering as there is when the two minds are applied to a project. Preston has explained that phenomenon by saying that their minds just happen to be “twisted” in the same way. That may be, but the two men still experience differences and disagreements while working on a project.

Preston and Child both bring ideas and suggestions for books to the table and collaborate on projects that appeal to both of them equally strongly. Preston’s The Codex (2004) and Child’s Utopia (2002) were both projects rejected by the other partner. After a thorough discussion of concepts, Child makes a chapter outline. Preston takes the outline and writes the book. Child edits and rewrites. Then, Preston takes that draft and works through it again. This is the pattern that the two of them have followed since the beginning of their partnership.

In the course of their collaboration, Preston and Child are creating a mythology based on character exchanges within their various novels. William Smithback, in addition to the Pendergast books, is also a character in Thunderhead (1999). A character in The Ice Limit (2000) also appears in Book of the Dead (2006). Interesting characters reappear from novel to novel in both series and nonseries novels. Like Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast, Preston and Child have a great fund of general knowledge and many special interests to draw on for their books. They can write with authority about many subjects and have practical experience in most areas of science and technology. This special knowledge results in the production of some outstanding techno-thrillers grounded in detective fiction. Working in the arena of classic imagery and plot, the two men are strongly influenced by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, and Edgar Allan Poe.