I’ve been saving a few questions from readers that have dropped into my e-mail inbox over the last few months, and there are a few that have come up more than once. A few FAQs for you—enjoy!
I wish Nick Journey had stepped up and shown Sandra Kelly some love. She was there for him and even helped care for Andrew. Will they ever get together?
Journey is still skittish about relationships and not so sure he’s ready for one. But I think if anyone has the ability to break down the walls he’s thrown up around himself, it’s Sandra. I’m happy to say that Sandra is still around in SILVER CROSS, and she and Nick have quite a bit more time together.
Darrell Sharp is such an interesting character—almost childlike in some ways, but capable of sudden violence. Is he based on a real person? Will he be back?
Sharp is back in SILVER CROSS, and in a larger supporting role. He is not based on any one person, but on several people I have known who have been in recovery from PTSD and depression, including military veterans and former law enforcement officers. I would like to write more of Sharp’s story someday, with him in a leading role, as I think he has many other stories to tell. One aspect of his character—the fact that he is capable of extreme violence but paints delicately on china—is based on the character of the assassin Joubert from “Three Days of the Condor,” one of my favorite movies.
Do you visit every place you write about?
I try. It’s not always feasible (kids, day jobs, budget, etc.), but if at all possible, I like to do on-site research. I like to walk in the steps I’m asking my characters to walk. Next week I am headed for Kansas for site research for the third Journey/Tolman book.
Are there really that many conspiracies from the Civil War era? Are you a conspiracy theorist?
I’m not one of those black-helicopter people. I like my conspiracies to be fictional, thank you very much. But I will say that the period around the Civil War is fascinating, filled with intrigue. They are many, many true stories out there that can provide a jumping-off point for a good fictional conspiracy that can reach out from history into the present.
Are any of the characters in COLD GLORY real people?
Aside from the obvious historical figures (Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Mark Twain, etc.), there is one modern character who in many ways mirrors a real person. Kerry Voss’s appearance, musical preference, manner of speaking, all come from a dear friend of mine. The most interesting part of this is that I did not intentionally set out to give Voss my friend’s characteristics. But after I’d written two scenes with Voss, I sat back, almost did a classic forehead slap, and said, “That’s my friend so-and-so!” Fortunately my friend didn’t mind this. This is the friend who asked if she could be a bloated corpse in one of my earlier, pseudonymous books. Yes, she’s a good friend.
You’ve heard it before: everyone a writer encounters winds up in his writing in one way or another. Parts of Meg Tolman come from at least three different women (a former girlfriend, a non-romantic female friend, and my maternal grandmother)—and one man (a former colleague). And while a few people insist that Nick Journey is my alter ego–yes, we share a few character traits, but really, he is a lot more courageous than I am–there are important parts of him (like the ability to throw a curveball) that come from other people as well. Of course, many parts of all these characters are conjured from thin air as well—that’s part of the fun of writing fiction!
Do you do an outline?
I do an outline, but I’m not a slave to it. Some of the most interesting things are tidbits I discover during the writing of the book. The ending of COLD GLORY is different than I originally envisioned. The epilogue, with the setting in south Texas, was discovered well into the book. I had already named the character of Samuel Benjamin Williams (using the names of my three sons), when I found that the last man to die in the last battle of the Civil War was named Williams—and that he had come from Indiana, just across the river from Louisville, Kentucky. I knew I had to incorporate that into the story, and the ending became very different.
Is Amelia supposed to represent your ex-wife? If so, I bet she doesn’t like it.
No. Absolutely, unequivocally, no. My ex-wife and I have a positive, functional co-parenting relationship, and we share custody of our children. Nick Journey’s ex could not be more different from mine.
What are your political views? I can’t tell from the book.
Good! I have strong personal views, but try to keep them out of my fiction, for the most part. It’s a tricky business at times, since I write fiction that has a political component, but I’m not out to promote (or criticize) any party or agenda in my fiction.
There you have it! Feel free to drop me a line via the contact page—I love hearing from readers. In the meantime, I’m almost ready to begin the actual writing of book #3 in the series. Can’t wait to get to it!