You’ve said that the ideas for many of your novels come from travelling and touring different historical places. In some ways, you’re doing real detective work that you then turn into fictional novels. Does your research process ever blur the lines between reality and fiction for you? Is there any one of your novels that you believe could happen in real life?
The line between reality and fiction is blurred all the time. I strive to keep things about 90% accurate. Since it’s a novel, designed to entertain, I have to trip it up a bit, but the closer I keep it to reality the better. The King’s Deception is a perfect example. The question of whether Elizabeth may have been a man is fascinating, and there’s strong circumstantial evidence that it may have been true. This has happened to me before. I wrote about the two lost Romanov children (The Romanov Prophecy) and they were found a couple of years later. The third secret of Fatima, which had been locked away in the Vatican for 80 years was revealed just after I wrote The Third Secret. I also had a German Pope in that book, who I created years before Benedict was elected.
You practiced law for 30 years before becoming a celebrated author. Do you feel that your experience as a lawyer allows you to bring anything unique to your novels that wouldn’t otherwise be there?
Not really. I write action, history, secrets, conspiracies, international settings. It’s called an international suspense thriller. I’ve never written a legal thriller. Maybe one day. The only thing that probably spilled over from the practice of law was a sense of organization. You have to be organized to be a trial lawyer. You also have to be a storyteller. But it’s a tale based on the evidence that’s available. For my novels I tell a story based on the history available. Luckily, though, I’m allowed the liberty in a novel to change it up a little bit. But that’s why I supply a writer’s note at the end of each novel, so you’ll know what’s real and what’s not.
You and your wife, Elizabeth, founded History Matters in 2009, which is dedicated to historic preservation. One could call your novels a form of historic preservation—do you feel that authors have a responsibility to serve a purpose through their writing?
Not really. A novelist’s number one job is to entertain. A novel is fiction. It’s by definition not real. It can, though, have a secondary purpose of informing or instructing. I work hard to achieve a balance between these conflicting purposes.
Though it is often a part of your research, you clearly love to travel. Which destination was your favorite? Is there anywhere you are eager to return to?
I’m not partial to any place in particular. I like them all. I’d love to go to South America and Antarctica — two spots I’ve yet to visit. New Zealand and Australia are wonderful. Returning to both is on my list. I haven’t visited Southeast Asia or China and I’d love to roam around India. Eastern Europe also holds a fascination. Romania and Bulgaria are two spots where I’d like to center a story.
I know you’re on your book tour right now, where’s the next place you’re going to be?
The best way to find out where I will be would be to go to steveberry.org and the Events page. The schedule is there. The rest of the website will tell you about me and the books.
Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author ofThe King’s Deception, The Columbus Affair, The Jefferson Key, The Emperor’s Tomb, The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, The Alexandria Link, The Templar Legacy, The Third Secret, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Amber Room. His books have been translated into 40 languages with more than 15 million printed copies in 51 countries. They consistently appear in the top echelon of The New York Times, USA Today, and Indie bestseller lists.
History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It’s his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have crossed the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners and their popular writers workshops. To date, nearly 2,000 students have attended those workshops. In 2012 and 2013 Steve’s devotion to historic preservation was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve it’s spokesperson for National Preservation Week. Among his other honors is the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award, and the 2013 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award given by Poets & Writers.
Steve was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He was a trial lawyer for 30 years and held elective office for 14 of those years. He is a founding member of International Thriller Writers—a group of more than 2,000 thriller writers from around the world—and served three years as its co-president.