FIRE IN THE WIND, a book first published in 1982, has just been released in eBook on amazon (I hope you’ll take a look: Amazon UK and Amazon US). And I’ve been remembering my extraordinary first meeting with its hero, Jake Conrad.
I had delivered CAPTIVE OF DESIRE to my publisher, and was already embarked on writing a new book, when the trigger idea for FIRE IN THE WIND came to me: a man sees a woman across a room and embarks on a scheme of revenge. I liked it a lot, decided to write that story when I had finished the current one, and put it out of my mind. Or tried to.
One day, while I was sitting in my study working on that other book, Jake Conrad—there’s no other way to put this—Jake Conrad kicked down the door of my study, stormed in and stood in front of my desk demanding that I tell his story NOW.
My study door was in fact physically open at the time. And of course Jake was not visible to the ordinary eye. But in some sense, because I was enclosed with my story, a door was shut—and I guess it is that door that Jake kicked in.
The impression of a discrete energy force bursting in on me was very strong. An energy with a personality, with wants and needs and a powerful determination, confronted me over my desk and made its demands. Even now I can flash back to that moment, to that space, and feel Jake’s arrival again. And of all the time I spent writing in that particular study, all the words I wrote there, the thing I remember most clearly is the moment Jake kicked the door in.
Of course I gave in to his demands. A writer would be a fool to turn down the opportunity of such a direct connection with such a vibrant energy. So with permission from the characters in it, I put my other story to one side and started to write Jake’s story. With what results you will see if you read FIRE IN THE WIND.
I feel the presence of my characters in every book, and I’ve always supposed every writer does—a character may wake me in the night to tell me that he just isn’t going to do what my outline suggests, and I have no choice but to abandon my plan and follow his. I’ve communicated in a variety of ways with different characters, right from my first book. But in general, these meetings do not occur with the first idea of a character—they happen after I have worked on a story for awhile and the character has begun to take shape on the page. It’s a sign that a book is working well when the characters get up and start dictating.
But Jake Conrad was more than that. I’ve never again had the pleasure of such a forceful meeting, nor, I think, the experience of so much controlled and specific energy, as I had with Jake Conrad arriving fully-formed and determined to live his resolution when the book was no more than an idea. And I have never found a satisfactory explanation for what happened that day.
I’m very grateful it happened, of course. And I hope you’ll enjoy reading Jake’s story. He’s a powerful, wonderful…very driven guy.