In Mike Lawson’s eighth Joe DeMarco thriller, House Odds: A Joe DeMarco Thriller, DeMarco has to get the grown daughter of his boss, former House Speaker John Mahoney, out of trouble.
Where did you get the idea for House Odds?
The idea came years ago when Martha Stewart got into trouble for insider trading. Later, while I was writing the book, Congress finally passed a law that said members of Congress had to follow the same rules as everyone else regarding insider trading, meaning they couldn’t cheat anymore. So I liked the idea of Mahoney’s daughter getting nabbed for trying to cheat the markets.
What do you find most interesting about Washington, D.C.?
What I’ve always told people is that Washington is a “target rich” environment for a writer. There’s always something scandalous, stupid, awful, corrupt, and silly going on back there—and yes, sometimes even something heroic—that I can always use in a story.
How did you come up with the Joe DeMarco character?
I decided on DeMarco—being a fixer and sometime bagman for the Speaker of the House—because the world of crime fiction already had too many good private detectives, cops, lawyers, and super-hero agents as protagonists. I wanted a guy who was somewhat unique, and at the same time had some sort of connection to the power structure in D.C.
Was the late Tip O’Neill a model for Mahoney?
I saw a photo of O’Neill on a book jacket one day—heavyset, the white hair, the big cigar clenched in his hand—and I said: “That’s Mahoney!” I’m sure—or at least I hope—that O’Neill wasn’t as corrupt as my guy Mahoney is.
What will become of DeMarco if Congressman Mahoney ever loses an election?
I did demote Democrat Mahoney from Speaker of the House to Minority Leader, to conform to reality when the Republicans took control of the House in 2010. But what would I do if Mahoney lost his job as a congressman? Probably make him a sneaky lobbyist, or maybe the president’s chief of staff, and let DeMarco continue to do his dirty work.
What’s next for Joe Demarco?
For the long run, who knows? I’m just extremely grateful that I’ve been able to publish eight DeMarco novels. Right now I’m working on a book dealing with DeMarco’s father, who worked for the Mafia as a hit man. He was killed when DeMarco was in college, and in this book DeMarco finds out who did the deed and why—and acts accordingly. I’m also working on another series with a character who’s nothing like DeMarco. Hopefully, you’ll interview me about that series one day.