Charles Ardai interview - Discussing John Lange
It’s been common knowledge that John Lange’s books were the work of Michael Crichton for some time now – what compelled you to republish them now under his name?
I’m not sure how common the knowledge has been, actually. I think of it more as an “open secret” – yes, if you looked up Michael Crichton’s Wikipedia page the information was there, but you had to look, and the vast majority of readers never did and didn’t know about it. When Michael was alive, he had a good reason to keep the old books under his pen name – he was still writing new books, and wouldn’t have wanted there to be any confusion as to whether a given book that came out was one of his new ones or a reissue of something he wrote at the start of his career. But now that, very sadly, he’s gone and there will never be any more new books, we and his family felt it was finally time to give him credit for writing these terrific early thrillers.
What’s your favourite work, out of the eight John Lange books?
Oh, it’s always hard to pick a favorite! Especially in a case like this, where each book is so different from all the others. You’ve got a political thriller in the vein of the TV series “24” in BINARY, you’ve got an archaeologist’s hunt for a lost tomb in the Egyptian desert in EASY GO, you’ve got a heist of a luxury resort in ODDS ON…it’s like eating a fine eight course meal and then being asked which you liked more, the entrée or the dessert. That said, I do have a soft spot in my heart for tales of archaeologists and lost tombs, so EASY GO might slightly edge out the others for me. But it’s a tough call. They’re all fun.
How do you think Crichton’s earlier work differs from his later work?
His later books were longer, and he spent more time researching and writing them – usually two or three years for each, as opposed to the Lange books, of which he wrote eight in just 6 years. But what the Lange books lack in length and complexity they make up for in velocity and pure, stripped-to-the-bone thriller storytelling. You’re launched right into the action and it never lets up until you turn the last page. The later books were often more serious, more sobering, more frightening – the early books were great escapist fun.