Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton! Having previously written in the crime genre with shows like The Blacklist and Bones, what intrigued you about returning to the genre for this project?
Dave Thomas: It wasn’t my experience of writing on Bones or The Blacklist that inspired this book. Working on those shows helped me with what the book ultimately became – there’s no denying that. I love writing procedural mysteries. But I’m also a huge sci-fi buff. And, initially, I had conceived Jimmy Leighton as a sci-fi thriller, a fictional exploration of the Many Worlds Interpretation posited by physicist Hugh Everett III. I did a lot of research on the quantum physics behind that because that is necessary in writing any science fiction story. The idea of adding the detective mystery layer on top of that came later when Max said he was interested in collaborating on this project with me. Working on a book with one of America’s top mystery writers made adding the procedural detective story on top of the sci-fi story something we both knew we had to do. It wasn’t just a good fit for the collaboration between Max and myself, it was good for the story. We had a lot of fun dovetailing the two together, finding a way to make the mystery thriller work with the sci-fi story.
BD: You are no stranger to collaboration, having co-written and co-directed projects for a variety of mediums throughout your career. What can you tell us about your shared creative process in co-writing this novel with Collins, and what, if anything, surprised you about the experience?
DT: I have collaborated with dozens of writers in my career. And it’s not always smooth sailing. But working with Max was a dream. First of all, I was surprised by how much Max and I have in common. I was familiar with some of his work, but the fact is, he has written so many books that, to be aware of them all, would’ve been impossible. For example, I’m a historical student of the Titanic disaster, but Max actually wrote a book about a fictitious murder that takes place on that fateful voyage. To write a novel where you play out the action onboard that ship necessitated an incredible amount of research. So, Max and I were able to swap stories on that. Same thing with the Kennedy Assassination. And a lot of other things. We became fast friends during our collaboration writing this book. And there’s no better way to get to know someone than working together on a book.
BD: What makes NeoText the perfect home for The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton?
DT: The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton is a cross-genre book. It’s a sci-fi and it’s a detective mystery thriller. A lot of publishers won’t take a chance on cross-genre. They worry that their readers won’t understand it. Or that they may become frightened reading the book because it does not stay within the preconceived expectations they had for it. But John Schoenfelder at NeoText isn’t like that. He’s a very open-minded, adventurous guy. And he’s very supportive of his artists – that’s what he calls us. No one in my 40 years working for television and film ever called me an artist.
BD: Do you foresee expanding the characters or world into subsequent books or even into other entertainment mediums?
DT: Of course, the short answer is “Never say never.” Max and I have talked about places a sequel could go, so I think there’s an open door there. But right now, I think we’re taking a wait-and-see position. Let’s see if the audience likes this book and then we’ll talk about whether or not there will be another.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
DT: I’m writing another book called the Perfect Life. It’s not a sequel or anything like that. It’s a totally different idea. But I’m excited about it and it gives me something to do in the morning when I wake up.