Q&A with John J. Davis
1. Blood Line, what is it about?
JD: Short answer: a family of spies. The father is ex-CIA, the mother, ex-Mossad, and the daughter is coveted by both agencies.
Blood Line carries two inherent meanings. First, the bloodline of the family. It’s the DNA, the genetic material, that makes the characters who they are. Second, the bloodline indicating death. The father’s past as a one-man kill squad for the CIA, and the mother’s past as an assassin for the Mossad. Both indicating the future path of the daughter, maybe. But when coupled with the first interpretation of the title may mean the daughter’s future is already written.
2. Why a family of spies? Why not a lone figure like James Bond, or more recently, Jack Reacher?
JD: I wanted to do something different, and I thought the iconic lone male hero had been done so well. I was inspired by my wife to create a strong, independent female character. My daughter is similar to my wife in so many ways that she inspired the daughter in the book. Two smart women that can do anything they want to do. After that it seemed natural to make them a family of three.
3. Why not just write about the women? Why bring the male character into it at all?
JD: I thought about that, and being a man, I didn’t want to assume I could write in the voice of a female character. No, what I thought I could do was write in the voice of a male character that has deep respect and admiration for the women in his life. I felt I could use Ron Granger’s voice to tell the stories that allowed the women in his life to take center stage and shine. It’s how he sees them—better than him—and they make him want to be a better man.
4. Tell me more about Ron Granger?
JD: As I thought about Ron and his character-—what he truly is—the John Wayne movie The Quiet Man came to mind. It was my grandparent’s favorite. I still watch it on occasion, and my wife loves the movie. I wanted Ron to be like that. Just some guy standing next to you in line at the checkout counter, and you have no idea who he is or what he is capable of doing. No flash. No signature drink. Just a man. But I also wanted him to have a secret like Mr. Wayne’s character had in that movie. A burden he had to carry. I chose to saddle Ron with a childhood disaster that he kept quiet, if you will, his entire adult life. That is, until he met Valerie.
5. What does Ron see in Valerie?
JD: She’s means everything to Ron and is everything he is not. The Yin to his Yang, like the Chinese Guardian Lions. The lions are essentially identical to each other, just as Ron and Val are similar to each other. As for what Ron sees in Valerie, her confidence and self-assurance appeal to Ron. He sees those attributes as a great inner strength, which he thinks he lacks. Sure, he’s physically imposing, but flawed in that he hasn’t yet learned how to process what happened to him as a child. Through his relationship with Valerie, his equal and his better in so many ways, he finds the peace and strength he’s searched so long for. She didn’t need him, yet she wants him. She picks him, and he’s honored by that. He wants to measure up to what Valerie sees in him, even though he feels he is deeply flawed.
6. This childhood disaster you mentioned for Ron, can you tell us any more?
JD: I can tell you this event will be revealed in later novels. But only that it’s the genesis of Ron’s rage, which is the one thing he dislikes most about himself. Even though it’s the very thing that kept him alive all his years as a one-man hit squad for the CIA, he strives to keep it under wraps. But then something happens that causes him to let go and stop controlling himself. That’s when he’s forced to display the one thing he never wanted his wife and daughter to witness.
7. What was your inspiration for writing Blood Line?
JD: For inspiration, some have to look far afield, but I only had to look at my family. We're a cornucopia of personality disorders ranging from the mildly mentally distraught to the supreme narcissist. We're dysfunctional, and some of us divorced multiple times over, but we share a common bond—our past. It's in that history, coupled with a pinch of the present, that I find my inspiration.
To be more specific, my wife and her immeasurable talents, proves beyond a shadow of doubt that women should rule the world. My daughter, thankfully, is her mother’s heir apparent, and is blessed with many of the same talents and gifts as her female forebears.
Then there are the grandmothers on each side of the family. Each effortlessly led the way by succeeding in academics, and in one case as a professional entertainer. Yes, she was in the USO.
As for the men, well, I'll begin and end with the two mentioned in the book. My grandfather was a world-class golfer and has a place in the both the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. His spirit lives on in the many memories I carry with me daily. As for Uncle John, he was a full-blooded Indian married to my grandfather’s sister. I remember him being a sweet man, though his size might lead one to think otherwise.
That’s been my inspiration, the people I knew best.
8. What do you hope readers take away from reading Blood Line?
JD: I hope they take away the trust and love of family above all else, and the extraordinary power of women.