I didn’t originally set out to make Road Rules a PI novel. And when you read it, it comes off more as a caper. But in outlining the story, I realized I had two dilemmas. First, how do Stan and Mike figure out that they are being hunted as they drive to Florida? Second, I didn’t have a female protagonist.
So how do I get around both? Simple. The Cadillac Stan is paid to take to Florida (along with the holy relic he unwittingly has in the trunk) is stolen. The car is retagged with another Cadillac’s VIN number, plated, and sent to Miami as a legitimate collectible car. Except…
The theft of the car costs somebody their job. And she wants her job back. So she follows the car, all the way to Florida if she has to. Save the car, save her job.
But who is she? And how do I raise the stakes? I had her work for an agency. And just for fun, what if that agency also was tasked with part of the security surrounding the stolen holy relic? That agency is owned by Robert Jordan, whom I pictured as an older Lance Reddick (Fringe, The Wire). Coincidence? Somewhat, though more a function of Timmy Mason’s greed. (More on Timmy in a coming post.) I made my luckless detective Jordan’s niece, and named her Sharon Harrow.
So now we have a woman who is motivated not only to get even for getting fired, but to prove herself in her uncle’s eyes.
This had another advantage for me. I did not want yet another young, blonde female lead. Mind you, I enjoy being married to a lovely blonde white female, but in my fiction, I wanted a little more variety. By making her Jordan’s niece, I already solved that problem. Mind you, the female lead in Holland Bay is a blonde in her mid-thirties, so I guess it depends on your mood when you start.
But while Sharon wants to do right by her surrogate father, what sort of woman would be this tenacious and resourceful to hunt down what is essentially a toy for a crooked car dealer no better than Andre the Giant? She would need to be tough and independent, but inexperienced. Sharon is done in by bottled water and a tiny bladder.
I had thought of writing a sequel centered on Sharon, picking up in Savannah where Road Rules leaves off. However, Svetlana, my agent, could not get more than a few sniffs from New York on the book. By then, I had started on Holland Bay and a couple other projects.
Will Sharon return? I hope so. She is the character who landed me an agent. We will have to see. At some point in my career, I could see revisiting her, maybe as a self-published ebook outside of anything else I’m doing. For now, Road Rules is the only place you can find her.
Check out Sharon’s adventures along I-77 and in Savannah at the Road Rules site.
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