Working on the Third

I’m working on my third novel, which is a political thriller—a departure from my first two serial killer novels. Although the third book has a villain, several in fact, it’s not a police procedural and it follows a completely different path.

What makes this novel more difficult than the first two is the amount of research required to make the story realistic and credible. You can’t write a political thriller unless you understand the dynamics of Washington, the White House, and all the branches of government. Fiction is fiction, which gives an author creative license, but this only applies to the characters and storyline. You can’t give the president authority that he-she doesn’t have. Nor can you alter protocol, legislation, or the bylaws of the Constitution. So an author needs to be very careful not to contradict the political structure of Washington.

In my first two novels, Detectives Sami Rizzo and Al Diaz are the main characters. Neither lives in this third novel, and I must admit that it feels weird not having them around. They’re like long, lost friends I haven’t talked to in years. An author gets attached to his-her characters, particularly when they’ve made appearances in more than one novel. There are many novelists who write series—one book after the other—with the same main character(s). I’m not sure what factors compel a novelist to allow a main character to live on, but I’d bet one reason is that they just can’t let go.

It may be hard to believe, but the characters a novelist creates are living, breathing creatures—at least to him-her. They may be fictitious to the reader, but in a sense, they are an author’s children. When you write fiction, you are, in a sense, competing with God, trying to make the characters complicated, interesting, unique, and three dimensional. It is so easy to stereotype. It takes a great deal of brainpower and creativity to produce characters that literally jump off the pages.

When this third book is completed and I’m faced with writing a fourth novel, Sami Rizzo and Al Diaz just might come out of hiding and make an appearance.

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