> Bless Their Hearts Mom: Guest Post- Chasing Leads by Alex Barclay
Monday, April 20, 2015

Guest Post- Chasing Leads by Alex Barclay

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this book, free of charge,from Harper 360. for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it

Earlier I shared with you about Alex's latest book, Harm's Reach, and I wanted to share this excellent post about how Bryce came to be...

harms reach cover

My first book, Darkhouse, came to life because of two people: lead NYPD detective, Joe Lucchesi, and Texan psycho, Duke Rawlins. The story wouldn’t have exist ed without both of them. The first thing I wrote for the book was what I considered to be Joe’s most dramatic scene that does not feature Duke. And the second scene wrote was Duke’s most dramatic scene that does not feature Joe. By doing that, I was distilling each of their characters, rooting them, so that when they eventually came together, the stage was set for their very particular dynamic.

In Joe, I found myself creating a man I liked and respected, who was a loyal husband and father, and who I would trust to solve the crime if I was a victim. Then I hacked some chunks out of that ideal. Duke is a violent psychopath, but my added motivation in creating him was to include his back story and show the evolution of a serial killer. In the sequel, The Caller , Joe is back in New York, back in his job at the NYPD. He is unsettled, damaged, altered. Without realizing it at the time, what I set in motion in The Callerhad outcomes to be returned to at a later date, not right away.

This is what left a door open for Special Agent Ren Bryce to walk through. Though, she would have probably smashed a wall in either way. I hadn’t thought of writing a female lead – I had always felt more drawn to writing men. Ren came to me fully formed as a bipolar FBI agent, who was voted ‘Most Likely To Kill or Maim’ in her unofficial high school yearbook. She was also voted ‘Most Likely To Hug a Stranger’ and ‘Most Likely to Marry Kurt Cobain, and once I had that, I was hooked. 

Though we’re all so used to calling heroes and heroines flawed, I don’t see Ren’s bipolar condition as a flaw. I see it as something that can help and hinder her. Flaw sounds wrong to me. She can harness mania for a time to dazzling effect, but then the reins fly from her grip. When readers know Ren over the course of the books, they know her triggers,her nightmare scenarios, the warning signs of her h
ighs and her crashes. Even if you strip away the central crimes of the novels, there is intrigue to be found with Ren alone. As Ren’s furious boss says at one point, ‘I have found myself riding the Ren Bryce rollercoaster again...’

And it’s a rollercoaster for me to write. I love writing Ren, I love writing her thoughts. And sometim
es it’s the moments when you expect her to think something, when she really should be thinking something, and there is no internal thought, you know, perhaps, that something is amiss. In every book, there’s a crime to be solved, a mystery to unravel. And in every book, there is Ren to be solved, and Ren to unravel. 

Ren and Joe are such different characters to write: Joe is serious and intense, but he has suffered mo
re harrowing personal traumas. I like probing his sullenness, his introspection. Ren has a wilder side, and this is magnified when she’s manic. They are both risk take rs, though, they are both rule-benders. And I like walking that line.

There is no sense of “lasting” with Ren – everything is in motion; the platform is unstable. Because of this, every book brings surprises to me. I always have definitive ideas about where she’s going, or, for example, if she’ll be medicated or not, but then I’ll start a scene and she’ll take me somewhere I hadn’t expected. I want readers to feel that too – that’s why, like her frustrated boss, I give her a lot of rope. She might lasso a kill er with it, make a tyre swing, or abseil down a building, but either w ay, she’ll make use of what I throw her way.

For me, the wonderful part of what I do is being able to explore different heroes, heroines, villains
and victims,and to have an editor and a publisher who supports that. When inspiration strikes, I’m very grateful to be able to harness it. I’ve just finished Killing Ways, the sequel to Harm’s Reach, and I was able to pursue a dream scenario that I’d been considering for many years. I owe that to my editor, Sarah Hodgson: I ran the idea by her, she said “go for it” and go for it I did. It was a blast.

Stay tuned for Bryce's next adventure!

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