The Bone Orchard Q&A

With the publication of The Bone Orchard approaching, I sat down with John Holyoke of the Bangor Daily News to answer some of his questions about the fifth book in the Mike Bowditch series. Here is a sample:

What was the inspiration for ‘The Bone Orchard’?

“With all of my books, I tend to draw inspiration from real-life events. In The Bone Orchard, there were two issues that were on my mind. The first was a statistic released in 2011 that showed that more Mainers had died, per capita, in the War in Afghanistan than residents from any other state. I realized that we have all of these veterans returning to Maine, and many of them had had traumatic experiences that none of us will ever fully understand. At the same time, there was a rash of police shootings in Maine, including one involving two game wardens near the VA hospital in Togus. I began to think about the tragic phenomenon of ‘suicide by cop’ incidents, and I began to wonder what would happen if one of my recurring characters — in this case, Sgt. Kathy Frost — was forced to shoot an Afghan vet who had been badly wounded and was suffering from PTSD. What might happen to her? What would be the fallout for the Warden Service?”

You’ve said you see Bowditch as a work in progress. How does this book help him continue on that journey?

“Without giving too much away — hey, I want to sell books — I can say that Mike Bowditch begins The Bone Orchard in a surprising place. He has left the Maine Warden Service after realizing that he had become a warden for the wrong reasons and is now working as a fishing guide in Grand Lake Stream. For years, his supervisors had been telling him he was a screw-up, but Mike has a keen intelligence and a big heart, and he is as brave as hell. And almost as soon as he resigns from the service, he begins having second thoughts. He’s not cut out for civilian life either, he realizes. And when a sniper shoots his friend and mentor Kathy Frost, seemingly in retribution for the death of the Afghan vet, he feels rage and impotence. His emotions force him to take action outside the system.

The Bone Orchard is probably the crucial book so far in the series since The Poacher’s Son. In previous books, Mike makes a series of personal and professional mistakes and learns from them, but this is the novel where we really begin to see him maturing into the hero he was always mean to be.”

John also wrote a blog calling the book my best (a sentiment with which I agree, although I will always love my firstborn, The Poacher's Son, in a special way). In just six weeks we'll all be debate whether he is right.

PS: If you'd rather not wait six weeks, you can still enter Macmillan's Father's Day sweeps for free copies of both The Bone Orchard and The Poacher's Son.