Interview with Stefanie Pintoff, author of Hostage Taker
25 Aug 2015
Tell us a little bit about your new release, Hostage Taker.
Hostage Taker represents a new direction for me – specifically a change of genre and time-period. The idea for the novel came to me shortly after Saint Patrick’s Cathedral began its massive renovation project—and I first saw the Cathedral buried in scaffolding. I looked at the chaos and upheaval, and began to think: what if … ?
Those what ifs built upon one another until I conceived a story where the fates of a beloved landmark and an unknown number of hostages were at stake. Where the only hope would be FBI agent Eve Rossi and her unconventional team of ex-convicts—a secret unit with extraordinary talents, oversized egos, and contempt for the rules. Where as a writer, I could blend my love of this city’s history with my desire to write a page-turning contemporary thriller.
Hostage Taker was great fun to write – and I hope readers will enjoy it!
If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?
It’s almost impossible to pick just one person, but if forced to choose, I would pick Winston Churchill. His vision, leadership, imagination, and legacy fascinate me to no end.
What’s your favorite scene from your book?
A good thriller requires plenty of twists and turns—not to mention edge-of-your-seat suspense to keep you turning the pages—so my favorite scene is actually my final twist. If it surprises readers, then I’ll have done my job well.
What makes your world go round?
A great book, a sweet dog, and creating good memories with my family and friends.
Who is your favorite fictional character from literature?
Though it’s too hard to pick an absolute favorite, one of my top favorites is Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs. He’s one of the best and most memorable villains ever created.
You wouldn’t be caught dead, where?
Camping out in the woods. While it sounds wonderful in theory, bugs and the lack of a hot shower are my downfall.
What’s your favorite quote from Hostage Taker?
“What are you guilty of?”
It’s the question the Hostage Taker repeatedly asks—and it ties in to questions that interest me about problems of social responsibility and particularly the Good Samaritan. This has captured the public imagination ever since the Kitty Genovese case in 1964, when multiple witnesses ignored her cries for help. This is still happening: five years ago in New York, a Good Samaritan named Hugo Tale-Yax was stabbed when he tried to intervene in a fight between a man and a woman. He was a homeless man from Guatemala, and he bled to death on the street while people walked by. One person even took a picture.
This repeated phenomenon raised many questions I wanted to explore as a writer, all of them connected to this quote.
Do you have a favorite local bookstore we can give a shoutout to?
I’m lucky enough to have two. New York City has one bookstore dedicated to mysteries and thrillers, The Mysterious Bookshop —and my favorite neighborhood independent is the Upper West Side’s Book Culture.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
To paraphrase Maya Angelou, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and be unsurprised by anything in between.”
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Taylor loves books with a heavy dose of absurdity, hilarity, and beautiful prose. She is a marketer, adventurer, nature-lover, Hufflepuff, wannabe world traveler, and advocate of laughter.