Monday, November 2, 2020


 Q: After considering killing off his hero, Lee Child is handing over the writing of the Jack Reacher Novels to his brother, Andrew. Would you consider killing your protagonists, and how do you envisage ending their careers?

-from Susan

Kill? Kill? For a crime writer, I’m pretty squeamish when it comes to my own protagonists, my creations, my fictional siblings. I bump off bad people easily and with pleasure, but Dani O’Rourke, or Katherine Hoff or Pippa? No way. In fact, I long to go back and find out what they’ve been up to in my absence. 

Who knows? Dani’s rich ex-husband Dickie might have finally worn down her resistance by swearing on his snobbish mother’s grave (which would mean she had died since her last nasty comment) that he would never even look at another underwear model, much less abscond with her to a ski resort in Switzerland. But I would make sure Dani was stronger and more forceful the second time around, and that she insist on a sensible pre-nup just to be on the safe side.  

Or, she and the cute cop might have come to terms with his crazy work schedule and her stubborn unwillingness to let lethal injustice slip past the authorities. And since one requirement of each book in the series is that Dani conduct part of her sleuthing in a place I love, I’m thinking the investigation of the next art crime might take her to Kauai, or even to Paris. Wherever she goes, I want to go with her and there’s no way I would kill her off.

Katherine’s a different sort of protagonist, a middle-aged, happily married woman transplanted into rural Burgundy with a meager pocketbook and good French. A would-be people pleaser in a rigid society that almost never embraces outsiders, she has made inroads in two books. But it's still tenuous and definitely not universal. Her young English sidekick bumbles and stumbles her way along, hardly aware of the social norms she’s upending. She’ll be fine – her innocence protects her. But I left Katherine with a new and unsettling circumstance and I really want to know what happens. Michael, her supportive husband and an aging rock and roller who was shafted by his band years ago, is making an exciting comeback. He’s about to start an American tour as the opening act for none other than his former band. Rapprochement? Payback? So what does it mean when Eric, the former best buddy and leader of the band, starts making mildly suggestive remarks to Katherine, who slept with him one time during the messy years? She’s just about to fly back to the States to join Michael on tour. Now what? 

And what about Jeannette, the quirky village teenager so many readers fell in love with? Without her friend and surrogate mother, how will she navigate the boys who want sex and the father who wants her to continue her light-fingered thieving on his behalf?

They need me! Or, I need them. As we all know, it’s not that we make all their decisions. Sometimes we just hang on to our seats and watch and listen as they surprise us. I am mildly jealous of the Minds who have long running series that give them ringside seats for their protagonists’ changing lives. But none of them decide to take their own lives, I’m quite sure. And if they turn to me mid-page and ask for my verdict, I will assure them they never have to die.









Frank Zafiro said...

Ah, Susan - you're too soft on them!


Just kidding. It's going to be fun to hear the different takes this week...

Susan C Shea said...

Frank, I am a softie, and they're my people!

Frank Zafiro said...

I hear ya.

Now that my post is up, I can share this - I quite literally wept while writing the scene in which Batts dies. Twice, in fact. Once while writing and again while reading it to Kristi for the first time.

So when I say I hear ya, I guess I really mean I feel ya.