Why did Singer have to die?
Singer embodied a variety of themes in the novel: companionship, the love owners have for their pets and vice versa, loyalty, bravery, and even how a person can love someone in spite of his or her irritating habits. Yet, because I write tragedies, there has to be a tragic event in my novels. This was Singer’s role to play, and even from the beginning of the novel, I knew exactly what would happen to him. Quality dramatic fiction has to make the reader feel a variety of emotions – love, joy, happiness, anger, betrayal, jealousy and yes, sadness and loss. This isn’t to say that I don’t like dogs. I love them – currently, I have three. I’ve also had dogs die in the past, so I know how much it can hurt to lose a pet. So do many people, and I suppose that’s the reason people were so affected by what happened to Singer. I, too, was sad when I wrote the scene, even though I knew it was inevitable. Also, it’s worth noting that in American literature, as opposed to movies and television, the dog almost always dies. Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, and My Dog Skip are but three examples, and I wanted to stick with tradition.
Was the story inspired by actual events in your life, as your other novels were?
No, the story behind The Guardian was a figment of my imagination. I’ve never known anyone like Richard, nor has any member of my family. Thank goodness.
Is Swansboro a real town?
Yes, it is. Swansboro is located between Jacksonville, North Carolina, and Bogue Banks (an island near Morehead City). Swansboro, like many of the towns in eastern North Carolina, is small and picturesque, though some changes to the town were made in order to better accommodate the story.
How hard was it to create a “dark” character like Richard?
Creating frightening attributes in a character isn’t challenging; the challenge lies in trying to make such a character original. There have been so many “dark” characters on television, in movies, and in other novels that it seems almost impossible to come up with something original, unless it’s incredibly far removed from reality. A person such as Hannibal Lecter falls into that category. But I wanted a frightening character that was both original and believable. To do this, I created an obsessive character (not too original, I’ll admit), but that I made him obsessive almost immediately (original). Most stories that deal with obsession are centered around longer relationships – this story did just the opposite. This immediate obsession, to me, is very frightening – imagine going on one or two dates with a person, only to have them believe you can never leave them. It would be like a nightmare, albeit one that could happen all too easily.
Is there going to be a sequel to The Guardian?
Perhaps. I have no plans to attempt a sequel at the present time (or even in the near future) but I said the same thing about The Notebook years ago. Only one of my novels was written with a definite sequel in mind (True Believer), but that was only because I had two books coming out that year, and the story lended itself to a sequel.
What about Mike? He’s so different than your other male characters. How did you come up with the idea for his character?
Mike was a fun character to write and, to be frank, I liked writing about someone who wasn’t completely comfortable with the opposite sex. I think Mike is a lot closer to reality than most of the major characters people come across in novels. Most seem too good, too confident to be real. Mike, on the other hand, was entirely believable, and I wanted to create a character that seemed like many people of the people I know.
Will The Guardian be adapted into a film?
Who knows. I’ve written the first draft of the screenplay, but as of this writing, Hollywood has little interest in the project. Hence, I’ve kept the screenplay on file and haven’t submitted it yet. I’ve learned never to predict what the studios intend to do with my work.
Will you ever write another love story with suspense elements?
In time, I probably will. I have a few more stories I want to get to first.
You wrote the screenplay for The Guardian. What’s happened with it?
So far, nothing. I haven’t submitted it yet. It needs a good polish, and I’ve been too busy to get to it. When my schedule clears a bit, I’ll get back to it and we’ll see what happens.