In Dorow’s debut thriller, The Ninth District, a masked bandit nicknamed The Governor robs bank after bank before murdering a pregnant bank employee. FBI Agent Jack Miller investigates the bold capers with the help of a rookie agent he calls Junior. As they anticipate The Governor’s next heist, the robberies stop. But why?
There’s a bigger bank in town. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. The Ninth District.
And it’s never been robbed.
Without further ado, please welcome author and good guy Douglas Dorow.
(waits for applause to die down)
ME: Tunnels play a major role in your thriller The Ninth District. Do you have any personal experience with tunnels? Bad mojo? Or perhaps you were a Chilean miner . . .
Douglas: I don’t have any personal experience in tunnels, but they came to play a major role in the story after I read a local article written by an urban explorer who liked to go down into the sewers and tunnels under Minneapolis. Minneapolis was built along the Mississippi River to harness its power, and early entrepreneurs built tunnels and channels to use the water power. Many of those are still accessible today.
In the article, the urban explorer talked about how he was reluctant to explore the river across from the Federal Reserve after 9/11 due to heightened security, and that idea found its way into my story.
ME: You and I met online and have maintained a pleasant e-friendship. What do those who really know you say about you?
Douglas: My family says I have the weird “Dorow” sense of humor. Others would say I’m quiet until you get to know me, I’m kind of an introvert, but I love to laugh. My wife says I can be stubborn
ME: That still doesn’t count as smack. You have another adventure in the works for Special Agent Jack Miller. What can you tell us about it? ETA?
Douglas: I have that writer problem where I have too many things I want to write and not enough time to write them.
I’m working on the next book in the series with Jack. It takes place a year later. Jack’s on vacation with his family in Minnesota lake country. All he wants to do is fish, relax and hang out with his family. But he’s dragged or pulled into solving a local, small town crime and the vacation goes out the window.
I’m also working on a series of novellas which follow Ross Fruen, aka Junior, Jack’s partner from the first novel, on his next assignment with the FBI.
Right now I’m struggling which to write first. I plan to get at least one of those projects, if not both, done this year.
ME: Where is the oddest place to which you’ve travelled? What was the most significant take away from your visit?
Douglas: I love to travel. Growing up my family went on a lot of camping trips across the US. And as an adult, we’ve traveled as a family as well, in the US and some trips outside the US. But the oddest place I’ve traveled?
One odd place is the Soudan Underground Mine in northern Minnesota. My wife and I were taking the kids on a canoe/camping trip in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota and we stopped at the Soudan Mine State Park for a tour. Northern Minnesota had a lot of mining in the past and this is the oldest mine.
You walk into this elevator (they call it an elevator, but it’s really a big wooden box about twice the size of a normal elevator car, the front is open and you can see through the slats in the side) and they lower you a half mile down into the old mine. This isn’t a modern Otis elevator, this is a box hanging from a giant cable, and it’s old. At the end of the ride you are in a horizontal chamber with small train-like cars that drive you a hundred yards or so to an old mine area. There you see mannequins in miner dress with old tools and they turn out the lights with only the head lamps illuminating the walls for the miners. It’s dark. They used to wear candles on their caps before electricity. The temperature is a constant 60-some degrees year round.
What I took away from this is a reminder of the different types of hardships and dangerous jobs people have taken on to support their families. They did it in the past and they continue to do it today.
And maybe an idea for a future book. They’re working on building super colliders in old mines like these today around the world.
ME: Fascinating and still with the tunnels. Maybe there’s something primal about the tunnel thing. I’m sure a devoted Freudian would have an opinion on the matter.
In addition to Jack Miller thrillers, you’re working on a stand-alone thriller for your readers. How much are you ready to divulge about this story?
Douglas: Yes, too many ideas. The other thriller series I plan to start is away from the FBI, it’s more like a national adventure story, think a James Rollins or Clive Cussler story taking place in North America. Put science, history, folk lore and adventure in a bag, shake it up and see what comes out.
Douglas: Growing up, Batman was always one of my favorites. No super human powers, but lots of neat gadgets, brains and strength to defeat the bad guy.
ME: Batman has a wicked tool belt.
I know you have a friend who works for the FBI. What about the Fed? They don’t even answer to Congress. How did you conduct research on them?
Douglas: After I wrote the book I found out I have a high school classmate who’s an examiner for the Fed. May have helped knowing that sooner. All of my research and what I wrote about came from Google and my imagination. My FBI friend has told me some stories about bank robberies taking place as inside jobs from bank money transfers. I took that and made it bigger.
ME: What’s been your best experience so far as an indie writer?
Douglas: Two of the best experiences as an indie writer so far; first, all of the other great indie writers I’ve met via twitter, facebook and in other groups – everyone is so supportive. I’ve connected with other writers around the globe. Second; hearing from writers how much they’ve liked THE NINTH DISTRICT. Publishing is such a leap of faith. You put it out there and just keep your fingers crossed that people will appreciate and like the story you’ve told. Reviews people have written have been great, but I’ve had direct contact from a few other readers that is even better.
ME: I’m cheating here because an interviewer asked me a question similar to this next one, and I didn’t have a flippin’ clue how to answer it.
Do you have anyone in mind to play Jack Miller on the big screen? Or the villain, The Governor? Jesse Ventura, perhaps? What about the other characters?
Douglas: One of my readers and I were just tweeting back and forth about this the other night. I think we settled on: George Clooney for Jack Miller, Keanu Reeves for Ross Fruen aka Junior, Penelope Cruz for Patty, and I’ve always pictured Patrick Stewart (without the accent) as The Governor. He can play a great bad guy, and he’s strong and slender for getting through the caves.
ME: I think Patrick Stewart could do a convincing Minnesota accent.
Thanks for joining me here today, Douglas. To contact Douglas Dorow, or to buy your own copy of The Ninth District, please check out these links: