Today I’m delighted to be hosting a stop on Graham Smith’s WATCHING THE BODIES blog tour.
First, here’s a little bit about the book – what the blurb says: “When Jake Boulder is asked by his PI friend to help investigate the vicious murder of Kira Niemeyer, he soon finds himself tracking a serial killer who selects his next victim in a most unusual manner.
As the body count rises, Boulder has to work with the police to identify the heinous killer before more lives are taken. What ensues is a twisted game of cat and mouse, that only Boulder or the Watcher can survive.”
Graham is the author of four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team and one book, WATCHING THE BODIES in a new series featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder. On the tour today, Graham’s talking about the process of creating a new lead. Over to Graham…
Forgive me for starting with back story, but it is rather relevant.
A few years ago I had a near miss with an American publisher and after being accepted by the commissioning editor, her readers and the proprietors, I found myself being rejected because the marketing bods for the publisher didn’t feel they could sell a UK set novel by a UK based writer to the US market.
Now, as anyone who knows me will testify, I’m rather stubborn, so after I found another publisher for that novel and I’d finished writing its sequel, I found myself with a window in which I could write another novel.
Being the stubborn Oedipus that I am, I decided to set a story in the US so I could present it all wrapped up in a neat bow to the publisher, and the marketing bods if I’m honest, who’d previously turned me down. The problem was, I had to create a new lead.
Enter Jake Boulder.
I knew which market I wanted and I’m very familiar with the genre of thriller I was planning to write. Namely that of the all action hero who fights for justice and is as handy with his fists as he is with his brain. This kind of character is your usual ex-forces type who is often very much a loner.
That’s right, I was planning to enter the world inhabited by the likes of Jack Reacher, Joe Hunter, Sam Carver, Victor and Charlie Fox.
The problem was, all these guys were so established, I would find it hard to break through writing about yet another ex-forces guy or gal who righted wrongs.
To solve the problem I decided my as yet unnamed hero wouldn’t have any military or police background and would be more of a back street brawler. I wanted him to be different and by not giving him any of this training, it’d be easier for me to pit him against enemies who were ostensibly better equipped than he was.
I was also adamant that I didn’t want my hero to start out as someone who could, and would, kill anyone who crossed him. Rather, I wanted him to be an everyman, who can look after himself and those around him. Jake Boulder may one day take the life of another human being, but on page one of Watching the Bodies, he has never killed a man.
After a few conversations with a writing buddy and a lot of thought, I had a name and Jake Boulder was officially christened. I feel it’s a good name and that Boulder suggests toughness and durability, while the Christian name of Jake is short and therefore emphasises his surname.
By now Boulder was growing in my mind. He’d moved to the US as a fifteen year-old when his mother remarried. Before he left Glasgow, his grandfather took him out into the garden and passed on a few of the fighting techniques he’d learned working in the shipyards on the Clyde.
I now had a hero with a credible back story to explain some basic, if underhand, fighting skills. Next I needed to give him a position in life. Lee Child’s Reacher has the drifter covered and both Zoe Sharp and Matt Hilton have their characters act as bodyguards on occasion so I needed to find a new hook as I didn’t want Boulder to be an assassin.
Instead I made him a bouncer / doorman in small town Utah. It’s the kind of place we’ve all seen in one movie or another where the police department is largely incompetent and every member has been hired due to nepotism.
I gave him a best friend who has his own private detective business which thrives due to the uselessness of the police and this in turn allows me to embroil Boulder in mysteries.
To round out the character, I gave him a few hang-ups from his past, a specific fear and a trait or two to hopefully endear him to my readers.
As with all lead characters, he didn’t appear fully formed in my mind, rather he grew stage by stage until he was fully developed into a person I was comfortable I could spend many hours with.
Yes, there’s a little bit of who I want to be in there along with a lot of what I find interesting. I plan to hang with Boulder for a good few more years, I’d love it if anyone who reads this would join me.
A big thank you to Graham Smith for dropping by the CTG blog today and telling us about the origins of his new lead character Jake Boulder.
You can buy WATCHING THE BODIES here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Graham-Smith/e/B006FTIBBU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1491159376&sr=8-1
And find out more about Graham Smith and his books:
And be sure to check out all the other great stops along the tour: