During his 11-year reign as Law & Order: SVU's executive producer, Neal Baer dissected the horrors of nearly every sex-crime scenario imaginable. But there's one story he never tackled. "We never explored on SVU what it's like for the child of a child molester to deal with what their parent has done," says Baer, who now executive produces CBS's A Gifted Man. "The legacy haunts the child of the molester as well as the molester's victim."
This storyline is touched on in Neal's new novel, Kill Switch (out December 13), a medical thriller he describes as "the best of SVU meets medicine." Neal jumped on the phone to give us a preview of what's inside the pages.
TV Guide Magazine: How did you find time to write a book while running your network shows?
Neal Baer: The book was outlined as a feature film nine years ago by me and John Green, who is one of the writers on SVU and A Gifted Man. We put it away for years and then pulled it out when our book agent asked if we had a thriller. We ended up with five publishers interested before we sold it as part of a three-book deal.
TV Guide Magazine: What is Kill Switch about?
Baer: It's about a young forensic psychiatrist, which gives it its SVU-ness. The woman is assigned to Rikers Island to make sure prisoners who are about to be paroled are ready to go back out into the world. One of them was not quite ready, as a number of serial killings begin to occur.
TV Guide Magazine: Is this investigator anything like Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson?
Baer: Claire Waters is much more audacious than Olivia in terms of the lengths she'll go to. She is doing a fellowship in forensics psychology with one of the top psychiatrists who treats the criminal mind. I would say there are elements of Benson and Chris Meloni's Stabler in the character Nick Lawler, who is the cop Claire ends up partnering with.
TV Guide Magazine: Will the other books in your three-book deal also feature Claire? And might they be developed for the screen?
Baer: Yes. And there is talk of turning them into features.
TV Guide Magazine: Since you're now spearheading A Gifted Man, I should ask what fans of that show might find appealing in your book.
Baer: There's a lot of medicine in this because Claire is a physician as well as a psychiatrist. And we delve deeply into bio-ethics, which we do all the time on A Gifted Man.