Nate Overbay, the hero of Gregg Hurwitz’s thriller The Survivor, is a regular guy with an irregular condition: Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Why did you create a main character with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis?
I thought there was terrific thriller potential in showing a man forced to step up, willing to do anything to protect those he loves, even as his body begins to betray him.
Do you have any personal connection with the disease?
When I was in college, one of my roommate’s aunts had ALS. And even though I wasn’t close to her, I remember the stories hitting me really hard. That age represented for me the height of invincibility—dumb and immortal—and this bit of reality shattered that notion of bulletproofness.
Your books are always laid with a foundation of research. Where do we see that in The Survivor?
The most fun piece of research I did was gain full access to a bank—vaults, cameras, alarms—and walk through several variations of a heist with security experts. Also, when I was in Russia for a book tour, I asked my translator to take me to a banya—a sauna where the temperature rises to nearly 120 degrees. These are often men’s clubs where shady business transactions take place, so it was a pretty scary scenario—me, not speaking the language, wandering naked through the steam as menacing, naked men lounged and beat their flesh with birch branches to vent toxins from the skin.
What’s the status of your project with cable channel TNT starring your series character, U.S. Marshal Tim Rackley, and his wife, Dray?
I just got green-lit to write the pilot script. I hope to get it into TNT soon, then we’ll find out if we can go shoot the pilot. It was really fun to spend some time with Tim and Dray again, to play with those voices. Dray will play an even bigger role in the show than she did in the books, so that’s been cool, too.
Can you describe what you’ve been doing for DC Comics?
I’m now writing Batman: The Dark Knight with David Finch doing the art. I really dig into Batman’s past and show the role that fear has played in his life, driving him to greater obsession and excellence. The Dark Knight arc will feature the Scarecrow, one of my favorites from the rogue’s gallery, also with a reinvented past.