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There are many Brian Freemans.

Some readers gobble up his Jonathan Stride mysteries, set in and around Duluth. Some know him for thrillers, such as the Florida-set "Break Every Rule," which hits stores in September. And some think of him as the guy picked by the late Robert Ludlum's estate to continue the series about international man of mystery Jason Bourne — "The Bourne Shadow," Freeman's fifth, is in stores July 16.

We spoke with Freeman — a Carleton College graduate who lived in Minnesota for decades before moving to Florida's Atlantic coast in 2022 — about Ludlum's favorite punctuation mark and how a juicy murder helps him get in the right frame of mind for a Bourne book.

Q: How do you shift between writing your own books and those with Ludlum's name on the cover?

A: Fortunately, a lot of my books are very different. One week I might be working on a police procedural like my Jonathan Stride books and the next week, I have a more emotional book with a female, first-person narrator like "Deep, Deep Snow" and then an action thriller with bodies dropping left and right like the Bourne books.

Q: You often write on your Florida patio. Do you move somewhere different for the Bourne books, to get in a different headspace?

Brian Freeman
Brian Freeman

Malyssa Woodward, Putnam

A: What makes it interesting is trying to combine my own style with his distinctive, breathless style. If you try to imitate that, it can feel like a caricature, so I try to make it a hybrid. When I pick up a Ludlum book, I have to remember, "This is not a Brian Freeman book."

Q: Are there specific things that make a Ludlum book a Ludlum book?

A: Mr. Ludlum did love his exclamation points, so you'll find more of those than in a Brian Freeman book. It gets down to the propulsive way he would write. The narrative was very in-your-face. You feel like you're running short of breath as you read.

Q: Does some Bourne bleed into "Break Every Rule," in which ex-cop Tommy Miller's wife and child are kidnapped? Both are about pseudonymous men who travel to exotic locales, kill people and search for a secretive woman they loved and lost.

A: "Break Every Rule" is a little unusual for my own books. I tend to do more psychological, emotional mysteries, but I wanted to try my hand at creating a character who combined some of the best qualities of Jason Bourne and Jonathan Stride.

Q: You were at Fitger's Inn in Duluth, waiting for a book event, when you got the offer to continue the Bourne series, which you had been reading since you were a kid. Were you thrilled?

A: Yes! Back in the '80s and '90s, if I was home sick from work, I would put in the VHS [of the "Bourne" TV miniseries, which starred Richard Chamberlain]. That was my go-to to make me feel better, so my Bourne credentials go back a long way.

Q: Do you ever have wrong turns, where you're working on a non-Bourne book but realize you just wrote something that seems more Ludlum than Freeman?

"Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Shadow"
"Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Shadow"

, Putnam

A: Yeah, I think so. It's relatively easy to fall back into your other creative habits and realize you're writing in more of the hybrid style than the Freeman. Or, every now and then I feel like a Bourne chapter is veering into a Jonathan Stride kind of book and I have to re-center it. Usually it involves killing someone and I'm right back into the Bourne world.

Q: It's always that easy?

A: Well, in writing the second book, "The Bourne Treachery," it was strange because the first book ["The Bourne Evolution"] flowed right out of me. It felt like a tribute to Ludlum and "The Bourne Identity." In "Bourne Treachery," it felt sluggish, like I was struggling to get into the character. I was trying to figure out why and I realized I needed to give myself permission to make Bourne my character.

Q: With two books out this year, you must be writing all the time?

A: This is one of the years in which I have three books to write: two Bournes and a stand-alone [to be called "Photograph"]. That's pretty crazy. It's a heavier pace than I like. I look back at when I was doing one a year and think, "Wow, that must have felt like a vacation."

"Break Every Rule" by Brian Freeman
"Break Every Rule" by Brian Freeman

Q: Is it true there's a bit of Minnesota in "Break Every Rule," even though it's set south of here?

A: I work with Wishes and More [a children's charity] in Minnesota, and one thing they do every year is auction off being a character in one of my books. About three years ago or so, Tommy Miller won the auction and I said, "I could slide you in as a supporting character, but if you're willing to wait around for 'Break Every Rule,' I think you'd be a great name for the hero."

Q: Even though you've moved to Florida permanently, might there be more Stride books, set in Minnesota, on the horizon?

A: I love Jonathan Stride and I love Duluth, so we'll see.

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Shadow

By: Brian Freeman.

Publisher: Putnam, 388 pages, $30.