Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Greatest Character You Have Never Met

I was at dinner the other night and a friend wanted to know what happened to Sharon. Why hadn’t they seen a new book? Did they miss the release? What’s up? For a moment I enjoyed the left handed accolade, but then reality set in. Since the release of 12th Man For Death nine long months ago my fans seem to be getting restless. When is the next Sharon O’Mara thriller coming out is all I hear?

I don’t know was all I could say. I’ve gotten a good start, maybe a third done, and while the overall outline is ensconced in my head, I am reminded by the CFO, that that’s the worst place it should be. But I am also reflecting on the difficulty of writing book series and sequels. There are numerous characters out there under the management of some great writers: Jack Reacher, Gabriel Alon, Hieronymus Bosch, Maisie Dobbs, Walt Longmire, the list is long. These writers deal with all the same problems; deadlines, readership, publishers, expectations, standards (imposed and demanded), and most importantly – the character’s growth and sadly, like us mortals, aging.

One of my favorite writers of the action thriller was John D. MacDonald. I came to his work late, in the mid-1980s, not knowing that soon his work would be done, he died in 1986. He left the genre a wonderful character named Travis McGee; begun in 1964, the 21 books carried us through twenty years of McGee’s adventures. In fact to this day Sharon considers Travis McGee to be her mentor. McGee ages during these twenty years, changes, becomes more cynical, more lonely, and more heroic. Here is what Wikipedia says about Travis McGee.
MacDonald's protagonists were often intelligent and introspective men, sometimes with a hard cynical streak. Travis McGee, the "salvage consultant" and "knight-errant," was all of that. McGee made his living by recovering the loot from thefts and swindles, keeping half to finance his "retirement," which he took in pieces as he went along. He first appeared in the 1964 novel The Deep Blue Good-by and was last seen in The Lonely Silver Rain in 1985. All titles in the 21-volume series include a color, a mnemonic device which was suggested by his publisher so that when harried travelers looked to buy a book they could at once see those MacDonald titles they had not read.
The McGee novels feature an ever-changing array of female companions, some particularly nasty villains, exotic locales in Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean, and appearances by a sidekick known only as "Meyer," an economist of international renown and a Ph.D. As Sherlock Holmes had his well-known address on Baker Street, McGee had his trademark lodgings on his 52-foot houseboat, the Busted Flush, named for the poker hand that started the run of luck in which he won her. She is docked at Slip F-18, Bahia Mar marina, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

We could do no better than this delightful series. So to my loyal readers, be patient, Sharon is very busy, she’s somewhere in the Caribbean as I write this, locked in a titanic battle with greedy totalitarian forces in an effort to complete a contract she has with the greatest Cuban baseball player of all time. San Francisco, London, Amsterdam and Havana all add flavor to the sauciness of our Sharon O’Mara. 

Today may be the last day of the competition for the America’s Cup in San Francisco Bay. 12th Man For Death gives you the alternative version of this great sailing completion from the stand point of our girl. I suggest you start there and work back to Land Swap For Death. Enjoy

BTW – Click any of the book covers and you will be taken instantly to Amazon where your copy is waiting.

More Later . . . . . .

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