The Worthy Opponent
Silk is a big departure from the historical romances I usually write. I never thought I’d want to write a story where the protagonist is a police officer. As a retired police detective, I never wanted to relive my career through my characters. That said, I do enjoy reading a good cop story. My favorite authors in the genre are Connelly, Sandford, and Wambaugh. I do have two books that are romantic thrillers. Those involve nautical archaeology and artifact smugglers. But I’d never done a true suspense/thriller.
Silk had an unusual origin for me. I had the idea for a killer in my head. I didn’t want him to be a slasher brute of a killer but one more cunning. I used the Phantom of the Opera as general concept. I wasn’t doing a tragic figure like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s but a man who doesn’t start out a killer or wanting to kill. But, he’s a man capable of killing. I wanted to show his descent into madness.
I started on the story and after a few weeks put it away in a drawer. I needed someone who possessed exceptional logic and perceptiveness to counter the killer’s cunning. The story needed a protagonist capable and determined to overcome any obstacles to catch him. While writing Knight Blindness, one of my historical romances, Detective Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone came to me. He popped into my head with such a strong presence. I knew everything about him before I put one word on the page. It is rare (for me anyway) to have a character that powerful in my head from the beginning. Normally, they evolve into these crystal clear characters as I write.
William Everhard, the killer in Silk, is a man of wealth and influence, a man who is on friendly terms with Queen Victoria. Both Bloodstone and Everhard had to be equally interesting in their own right and equal in intelligence for the cat and mouse aspect to work. Det. Bloodstone doesn’t have Everhard’s power or noble station. Instead, I made him a war hero. Where Everhard is friends with the queen, Bloodstone is the recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest medal a soldier could receive. It was, and is, the equivalent of the Medal of Honor. Named for Victoria, the queen awarded it for ‘Extreme valour in the face of the enemy.’ Whereas Everhard is an arrogant man, Bloodstone is a humbler man. He doesn’t view himself as a hero. To him, he was simply doing what was necessary in time of battle. Where the wealthy Everhard is elegant and a man who always presents himself as a noble, Bloodstone is a rough around the edges type of man. He’s a man who won’t look for a fight but won’t walk away from a challenge either.
To play off Everhard’s deceptive nature, I wanted the reader to walk the crime scenes with Bloodstone to see what he keys on and have a sense of his analytical thought process.
I used both men’s POVs. I wanted the reader to get insight into what motivated the two men and also see how they viewed the world around them. To me, it was important to give each a life with friends, associates, likes and dislikes. Characters don’t live in a vacuum so fleshing them out in this way IMO is important to this story and to thrillers in general.
To me the best thrillers are those where the protagonist and antagonist are well matched. Professor Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes or Auric Goldfinger and James Bond are perfect examples of worthy opponents. The reader is also given access to the personal lives they lead.