Brian Freeman is a bestselling author of more than twenty novels, including the Jonathan Stride and Frost Easton series. His Audible original, The Deep, Deep Snow, landed on the New York Times Audio bestseller list. His debut novel, Immoral, won the Macavity Award and was a finalist for the Dagger, Edgar, Anthony, and Barry awards for Best First Novel. His stand-alone novel Spilled Blood won the award for Best Hardcover Novel in the International Thriller Writers Awards and his novel The Burying Place was a finalist for the same award and is currently in development to be a series with AMC. Universal Pictures has landed the rights to the Brian Freeman novel Infinite, with Fast & Furious scribe Chris Morgan and Head of Development Ainsley Davies producing. Freeman lives in Minnesota with his wife.
In this post, Freeman, author of Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Treachery, discusses how he took up the mantle of a great series and made it his own and much more!
Name: Brian Freeman
Literary agent: Deborah Schneider (Gelfman Schneider)
Book title: Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Treachery
Publisher: Putnam Books
Release date: July 27, 2021
Elevator pitch for the book: One of the most iconic heroes in thriller writing, Jason Bourne, faces off against a mysterious assassin–and his own past.
Previous titles by the author: Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Evolution
Full list of standalone novels and other series here:
What prompted you to write this book?
I grew up reading Robert Ludlum books. His first Jason Bourne novel, The Bourne Identity, has long been one of my all-time favorite thrillers. So, it was an extraordinary honor to be chosen to “re-boot” the Jason Bourne series for a new generation. In The Bourne Treachery (and my first Bourne book, The Bourne Evolution), I’ve been trying to resurrect the qualities that make Bourne such an enduring hero, while also bringing him into the modern world.
How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?
From concept to publication took about a year and a half. And yes, the essence of the story did evolve quite a lot from my initial pitch. That’s true in most of my books because I like to give my imagination free rein when I’m putting words on paper. It’s one thing to think about the story in theory, but once the plot and characters come alive on the page, they usually take me in new directions. That’s what keeps the books fresh and exciting.
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
It’s a special challenge stepping into the shoes of another writer’s characters—particularly a giant of the genre like Ludlum. For me, the second book was actually harder than the first. I saw my first Bourne novel, The Bourne Evolution, as a kind of tribute to Ludlum and his hero—but in The Bourne Treachery, I had to take over the series myself and begin moving the character forward. That’s a very different creative responsibility. I had to give myself “permission” to take Bourne in new directions, and once I did that, the whole book flowed more easily.
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
There are always surprises—even to me! I like to begin with a rough outline—like a road map of where I’m going—but I don’t tie my hands too much in the individual scenes. Right up to the end, I was deciding exactly how to resolve the stories of the key characters, to give the book maximum dramatic impact. I hope readers love the way this one ends!
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
Jason Bourne is one of the most beloved heroes in the thriller genre—not because he’s a super-hero, but because he’s human. He’s fractured; he struggles with who he really is. We can all relate to that. So, in this book, I’d like readers to rediscover why they’ve enjoyed Bourne stories for nearly four decades. And I want them to read it and say, “This feels like it could have been written by Ludlum himself.”
If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?
I always tell aspiring writers to remember that 100 percent of unwritten books have never been published! Often we’re our worst enemy, and we psyche ourselves out. The key is to keep writing and keep shouting down those voices in your head that say you won’t make it.