Guest Blogger: Jon Land
Female action hero. For many thriller fans, that’s an oxymoron. And you can’t really blame them. A woman capable of mixing it up with the likes of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher? Come on, no way, right?
Wrong. Caitlin Strong, who returns this month in STRONG VENGEANCE, is a Texas Ranger capable of mixing it up with just about everyone. Her past three adventures have pitted her against a villainous Haliburton-like company responsible for torturing her husband (STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE), a renegade Mexican colonel about to launch a guerilla war against the U.S. (STRONG JUSTICE), and a radical right-wing militia intent on starting a second civil war (STRONG AT THE BREAK). Now in STRONG VENGEANCE she’s up against homegrown Islamic terrorists planning to wipe out the United States as we know it. Those plotlines may seem more fit for Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone, James Rollins’ Sigma Force, or Vince Flynn’s wonderful Mitch Rapp. Only difference is they’re men . . . and not Texas Rangers either.
See, it comes down to credibility. Building a believable female action hero starts with a foundation the audience will buy into and the Texas Rangers form the perfect basis for that. These lawmen (and now lawwomen!) have been legends for nearly two centuries now, coming to exemplify the lone hero so vital to the development of American fiction in general. The Rangers’ exploits have reached a mythic, virtually iconic level and they remain to this day symbols of standing up for what’s right no matter the odds. Which describes Caitlin dead solid perfect.
Of course, some will say that casting female Caitlin in the all-male Texas Rangers strains credibility in its own right. So I made her not just a Ranger, but a fifth generation Ranger with her forbears all being veritable legends in this exclusive community. That helps lead to her being accepted but, ultimately, she has no problem proving herself against bad guys every bit the equal of those run down by Caitlin’s father Jim and her grandfather Earl Strong. That’s why I decided to frame all the Strong books by featuring them in subplots set in the past that inevitably turn out to be connected to what and who Caitlin’s pursuing in the present. In STRONG VENGEANCE, for example, Caitlin has to solve the thirty-year-old mass murder of five college students, a case her legendary father and grandfather never solved, in order to stop those homegrown terrorists from wreaking havoc on the nation.
Stephen King once said “it’s not the tale, it’s the telling.” Well, for me it’s not the gender, it’s the person. And Caitlin Strong can stand toe-to-toe with any of her contemporaries, even though that doesn’t necessarily mean eye-to-eye!
Jon Land is the bestselling author of thirty thrillers, most recently the Caitlin Strong series that includes STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE, STRONG JUSTICE, andSTRONG AT THE BREAK. The next entry, STRONG VENGEANCE, was published by Forge on July 17. He’s also bringing back his longtime action hero Blaine McCracken in PANDORA’S TEMPLE for Open Road Media in November and this past year published his first ever nonfiction book, BETRAYAL. BETRAYAL is currently being developed as a television series by Fox for Denis Leery and Jon is on the verge of inking a deal with Sony to bring Caitlin Strong to the small screen as well. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be found on the Web at jonlandbooks.com.