Courtesy of Publishers Weekly…

It was an intriguing series of requests for columnist Douglas Preston, who wrote about history for Natural History, the magazine of the American Museum of Natural History. An editor from St. Martin’s Press had been reading his pieces and asked Preston to write a history of that institution. That invitation led to Preston’s first book, 1993’s Dinosaurs in the Attic. After it was published, his editor got a tour of the museum — in the middle of the night, which led to the second request.

Preston remembers it as follows: “I showed him all the best places to which I had access—the dinosaur bone storage room, the collection of 30,000 rats in jars of alcohol, the whale eyeball collection, the preserved mastodon stomach with its last meal inside, and a lot of other unusual things. We ended up in the Hall of Late Dinosaurs around 2 a.m., with only the emergency lights on, the great black skeletons looming in the darkness around us, and the editor turned to me and said, ‘Doug, this is the scariest building in the world. Let’s write a thriller set in here.’ ”

That editor was Lincoln Child, and the result was the 1995 bestseller Relic (Tor), a scientific suspenser about a mysterious savage creature rampaging through the dark corners of a labyrinthine “New York Museum of Natural History.” Relic, co-written by Child and Preston, introduced Aloysius Pendergast, an eccentric, maverick FBI agent whose startling appearance attracts almost as much attention as his oracular pronouncements. In his book debut, he’s described as “a tall, slender man, wearing a crisp black suit.” His “[h]air so blond it was almost white was brushed straight back above pale blue eyes,” and Pendergast is initially mistaken for an undertaker.

Neither writer expected Pendergast to become a series lead, let alone star in sequels in which he confronts evil both supernatural and natural. (Grand Central will publish his 12th adventure, Two Graves, in December). But after a number of successful collaborations featuring other interesting characters (Mount Dragon, Riptide, The Ice Limit), the pair returned to the unconventional FBI agent in 1997’s Reliquary (Tor) and never looked back.

Read the entire article here: Child is Father to the Monster

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