Writer’s Block: The Follow-Up

Pascal Marco “I really wondered if people would believe that some people hate this much and think the way supremacist and nativist groups do,” says author Pascal Marco.
Pascal Marco’s latest thriller mixes domestic terrorism, immigration and Arizona’s fragile infrastructure

Five years after publishing his award-winning debut novel, Identity: Lost, author Pascal Marco LAS ’74, MA ’76 LAS and his protagonist—the undefeated Phoenix-based prosecutor Stan Kobe—return in Render Safe, a thriller that blends real-life unsolved mysteries with alt-right agendas and domestic terrorism.

Why did you bring back Stan Kobe?

I started writing Render Safe in January 2011 and intended to write and publish it quickly. But the promotion and marketing for Identity: Lost sidetracked me for two or three years. By that time, I had to decide whether to return with Stan, which readers seemed to want, or to create a whole new cast. Ultimately, I made the decision not to worry about the lag time between the two novels and to focus instead on writing the most compelling story possible, and that involved Stan.

What real-world incidents inspired Render Safe?

In 1997, an Air Force pilot unexpectedly peeled off his formation during a training flight out of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. Though his plane was found in the Colorado wilderness, its 500-pound bombs were not. The second event concerns Robert Fisher, who hasn’t been seen since April 2001, just after his Scottsdale, Ariz., home exploded with his wife and two children inside. Odds are that Stan Kobe, as the local prosecutor, would have touched these cases, so I created a character modeled after Fisher and came up with my own motivations.

Render Safe features some vile characters. What difficulties did that pose?

I really wondered if people would believe that some people hate this much and think the way supremacist and nativist groups do. As some of today’s headlines unfortunately prove, these alt-right groups are very real.

Will Stan Kobe return?

I’ve considered writing a true sequel to Render Safe and I know there are cases in Arizona that can serve as inspiration. I’ve also tossed around the idea of doing an Identity: Lost prequel exploring the lives of the two Chicago police officers at the center of that book.