The top of the jacket for the just-released “The Bourne Objective” screams the trademarked name of Robert Ludlum. This makes sense, as it was Ludlum who created the popular rogue spy in his books “The Bourne Identity,” “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum.” One problem — Ludlum died in 2001. So there’s another name on the book:?Eric Van Lustbader. Van Lustbader was hired to continue writing about Bourne after Ludlum’s death, which he has done for five books — with more to come. He tells us about carrying on Ludlum’s legacy.
On knowing Robert Ludlum…
“Bob Ludlum was a good friend of mine — that’s how the whole thing happened. My book, ‘The Ninja,’ came out around the same time as ‘The Bourne Identity.’ We shared an agent who told me Bob wanted to meet me, which was hard to believe because Bob was notoriously anti-social. It turns out he had read ‘The Ninja’ and we spent the whole night talking about thriller novels. We maintained our relationship until he died in 2001.”
But he did the Bourne books his own way...
“The executor of Ludlum’s estate asked me if I was interested in continuing the Bourne books. He thought it was a great idea to put out a new Bourne book with the release of every film. I said, ‘If you want me to write in Bob’s style, I’m not that kind of writer, and I’m not a ghostwriter, either.’ But they said that was fine and they’d put my name on it, too.”
Why Bourne will never regain his memory…
“If he did he wouldn’t be Jason Bourne anymore! That was the brilliant thing about Bob’s creation. He’s a great series character as you can constantly have people showing up from his past and he’ll never know if they’re good or evil. He’s tortured about it. And heroes are always better when they’re tortured about something.”