This is not your school's summer reading list

David Baldacci


1. How did you come to the story, The Finisher?
I read a lot of fantasy as a kid and always wanted to throw my hat in the ring in that genre. On Christmas Day way back in 2008 my wife gave me a blank journal. I immediately wrote down the name Vega Jane. That was all I had. It took me 4 1/2 years to realize the story, the characters and the voice I wanted to tell it in. It was a long, hard journey with many missteps and ideas that ended in hard alleys with no way out. But I finally got it down.

2. What makes Vega Jane a strong girl?
Her circumstances partly, which are very hardscrabble. That sort of life just tends to harden you. My mom grew up on the side of a mountain in the middle of nowhere and was sent, at age seven, to the family’s coal mine to fill up buckets with coal for their heating and cooking needs. She would work from sunup to sundown. It was a hard, hard life but I never knew anyone stronger than my mother. Also, Vega Jane knows she’s being lied to about her past and she is not someone who will abide that. She’s the one in the crowd who will actually stand up and question rather than be a lemming and just go along to get along.

3. What was the hardest part about writing The Finisher? What was the sweetest surprise?
Finding the story and the voice. I didn’t know what the setting would be or whether I would tell it in first or third person. I obviously had to get that right before I could do anything. The best part was one day in June 2012 when the entire story clicked in my head. I wrote nearly 200,000 words in six months. The entire story just unfolded, after 4 1/2 years of fits and starts. That was sweet.

4. Please finish  this sentence: Strong girls ______.
can accomplish anything.

5. Are you working on a new book for young readers?
I’m nearly three-quarters of the way through the next Vega Jane installment.

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