Editor’s Note: Do you ever read a book and think- there’s no way this could get better? And then the author comes out with a sequel?! Well, we are thrilled to tell you that Andrew Shaffer, author of Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery, has come out with its sequel Hope Rides Again. The New York Times bestselling author answers our burning questions as part of our Behind the Book series.
What made you want to write a sequel to Hope Never Dies? Are we looking at a trilogy in the works?
Although the first book was tagged “An Obama Biden Mystery,” there weren’t any plans to make it anything more than a one-off. The early buzz around the book was overwhelmingly positive, though, and my editor and I started tossing around ideas for a second book before the first was published. My main concern was that I didn’t want to repeat myself. Once we decided to set it in Chicago, everything clicked into place. I’d love to do a third book.
Your books are often described as bromance-mystery. Do you feel this odd genre descriptor suits the books? How would you describe them?
As long as the books are shelved as mysteries, you can add whatever adjectives to them you like! When I’m describing the books, I usually compare them to buddy-cop movies, like Lethal Weapon and The Heat. Most people don’t realize it, but the “buddies” in buddy-cop movies follow the same trajectory as lovers in romance novels—meet cute, disagreements, reconciliation, happy-ever-after ending. That’s what I tried to do with Hope Never Dies.
You write humorous books and parodies. Did you always want to write about such fun things?
The earliest complete short story I remember writing was called “Pee-Wee Penguin’s Igloo.” It was a parody of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. So the answer is a big yes! And here’s an Easter egg for readers: Pee-Wee Penguin appears in both of the Obama Biden books.
Do you find in this day and age that humor helps connect us or divide us? Why or why not?
Humor has the power to connect us on a basic, human level—especially physical comedy. Humor can also be used to divide us, in the case of political satire. At the end of the day, humor is just a tool in the writer or performer’s toolkit. Like a hammer, you can use it to pound a nail in, or pull it out. It’s all in how you wield it. The humor in the Obama Biden mysteries isn’t very political or divisive, at least in my opinion. It’s broader than that.
How do your ideas for your books come to you?
Ideas can come from anywhere. The Obama Biden mysteries were inspired by a photo of Joe Biden looking wistfully out the window of the Oval Office, aviator shades on. I imagined he had a secret inner life like Walter Mitty behind those glasses, a life where he was a secret agent flying around the globe on covert military missions. The idea evolved over the years. It didn’t really get off the ground until I added Obama as his bromantic foil.
Do you have to do a lot of research on your characters, considering they exist outside your book?
Absolutely. When I started writing the series, the first thing I did was get ahold of every book on President Obama and Joe Biden I could find (many of which actually came from my local Half Price Books here in Kentucky). At a certain point, I had to put the books down and just start writing.
Andrew Shaffer is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including the national bestseller Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery. He lives with his wife, the novelist Tiffany Reisz, in Kentucky.