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Author Steve Berry talks ‘The Omega Factor’ and the future of Cotton Malone

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"The Omega Factor" by Steve Berry.

"The Omega Factor" by Steve Berry. (Grand Central Publishing/TNS)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Central Florida-based author Steve Berry has been crafting novels for more than two decades and while he still has plenty of stories to tell, being on the road can get a little tiring.

“I’m a little old for this!” he joked, while discussing his recent book tour, which has brought him all up the East Coast to Atlanta, Baltimore and more during a three-week-long tour to promote “The Omega Factor,” which was released on June 7.

This new book is a departure for Berry, who has been writing books about hero Cotton Malone for more than 10 years. “I’ve done 16 Cotton Malone books and as you know, he’s my guy, [but] this year, he decided he wanted to vacation. He needed to get a year off. He was a little wore out.”

Berry says UNESCO investigator, Nicholas Lee, the main protagonist of “The Omega Factor” shares some DNA with Cotton Malone, but there are some key differences: “He has a different background, different family, different motivations [and] he’s a little bit younger,” Berry said, adding that “It was fun to have a character we could explore some new personality traits in.”

Of course, longtime fans of Berry’s novels shouldn’t worry about “The Omega Factor” being too much of a departure from Berry’s usual work as he promises that this most recent volume will have all the “action, history, secrets and conspiracies,” that have made his books best-sellers over the years.

However, Berry assured that Lee isn’t a carbon copy of Malone, saying “he has a different background, different family, different motivations [and] he’s a little bit younger. So it was fun to have a character we could explore some new personality traits in.”

The inspiration for this stand-alone novel came from a trip a few years ago to Europe.

“I was in Belgium, researching another novel, and I saw the Ghent Altarpiece. And it’s magnificent. It just takes your breath away when you see it,” Berry said.

“The altarpiece is full of very small symbols and letters and words and all kinds of things that he added all over that you can only see under magnification,” he continued. “All of those secrets fascinated me and I wanted to work it all in, I just could not figure out how to use the altarpiece. And then when this opportunity to create Nick came along, it kind of came together and I figured out how to do it and, and so ‘The Omega Factor’ was born.”

Though Berry hopes that longtime fans will enjoy “The Omega Factor,” he also took a moment to assuage any fears from fans about the future of Cotton Malone.

“Cotton will be back in 2023 and 2024 for sure,” Berry confirmed, adding that he is also doing a spinoff series focusing on the character of Luke Daniels, who appears in the Cotton series. “There’ll be three books with him coming in 2023, 2024 and 2025,” Berry said.

And though that sounds like a pretty full schedule, Berry isn’t ruling out another adventure with Nicholas Lee.

“I think it’d be fun to revisit him. I wrote it with that in mind,” he said. “But it’s entirely up to the readers.”

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