Eisler's 'Inside Out' hits US bookstores

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The Independent Culture

Barry Eisler's new novel hits store shelves in the United States on Tuesday, with the author's most famous character - John Rain - making a cameo appearance in this his eighth book.

But in an exclusive interview in Tokyo just days ahead of the launch of Inside Out, Eisler had some very good news for fans of the Japanese-American assassin: Rain is coming back.

"I've become increasingly interested in back stories and political issues and Inside Out is based in an actual event, 92 missing CIA interrogation tapes - which included recordings of waterboarding and torture - and how that was covered up," he said.

To underline just how far the book is from a work of pure fiction, Eisler told Relaxnews, he has more than 80 endnotes.

"What is bad in America today is good for thriller writers," he added with a wry smile.

Eisler has a long history with Japan, arriving here after resigning as a field agent with the CIA in 1992. He spent 10 years with a law firm, part of that time seconded to a Japanese corporation, and grew to love the Japanese culture.

And it was in 1993, while he was working in Tokyo, that he first came up with the character of John Rain, who has gone on to become the pivotal character in his first six novels. John Rain is half-Japanese and half-American,  an expert in Japanese martial arts and many of the books are set in Japan, or partially so.

"When I was writing my first novel, I didn't really think of it as such," he said. "It was more like a short story. I was on a subway in Tokyo and I had an image of two men following another man down Dogenzaka. It was more like a daydream and I wondered who they were, why they were following him.

"The thoughts just kept coming: Why, who, where, how did this man become an assassin, who had hired him? And that is how the story got written."

That process took until 2002, after which Rain took on a life of his own. The novels have been published in 20 languages - they are surprisingly popular in Norway, he says - and the first book was turned into a movie, 2009's Rain Fall, starring Gary Oldman.

While writing book six - Requiem for an Assassin - Eisler believed Rain had reached the end of his journey. But three years later, he has changed his mind and believes that was just a "resting place" for the character.

He is now working on reactivating the assassin whose speciality is killing a target but making it look as if the death was from natural causes.

"I've got all the information that I need for the book and I just need to start getting the concept down," he said. "I already know the character and with the information from my notes I just have to sit down and start arranging those notes, giving it a structure, and then I'll be ready to write."