Message From The Author
Linda Howard Wows With ALL THE QUEENS MEN
I spend a lot of time on the road. My husband is a professional bass tournament fisherman and I accompany him to most of the tournaments, all over the country. After packing up my laptop, and enough reference and fiction books to sink a battleship, we're off. Generally, though, I'd rather be at home. Like most writers, I function best under a strict schedule; a writers mind is always full of such mayhem and uncertainty, we need order in everything else.
Luckily, traveling offers one compensation: opportunity for research. There's always something about an area that sticks in my mind, some detail that will pop up in my books. I take notes, pick up local literature, talk to people, and of course, buy books, lots of books. I think I may be on the FBI's "Watch This Person" list because of some of the books I buy! Want to know how to make homemade C-4? (It's plastique, an explosive compound.) Well, Ive got that book, plus others not found at your local bookstore. If I'm writing about an explosion, then I want to know all about explosive devices. The information may not appear in the book, but I want to know, because the little details always affect the logical progression and authenticity of the plot.
Sometimes the research itself will suggest another book, or take the current one in a different direction. I love it when strong secondary characters unexpectedly raise their heads. That happened in Kill and Tell (Pocket, 1998) with John Medina. He was a shadowy character, mysterious, dangerous, and in only a few scenes of the book any more and he could have easily taken it over. Now, in All The Queens Men, Medina proves hes a leading man -- one more than capable of mesmerizing readers from page one.
Developing a character is just like getting to know a real person: it's a gradual process. Each unfolds layer by layer, revealing more and more of the self. John Medina is probably the most dangerous person I've ever met
and one of the most fascinating. What really astounds me is that there are real people like him out there, people who risk their lives daily for the good of others. Sometimes we forget, I think, that there are real heroes
in the world, not just sports figures and movie stars. I hope I even halfway do justice to John Medina, and thus to them all.
Niema Burdock rose slowly out of the chair where she had been sitting, her face pale in the mellow lamplight. Her eyes were as big and dark as he remembered; darker, narrowing as she stared at him and said one word, tight with disbelief: "Tucker."
John forced himself to move, to step inside the library as casually as if he had known she was going to be there. He closed the door; let Frank make of that what he pleased. "Actually," he said, as if five years hadn't passed, "you were right. Tucker isn't my name. It's John Medina."
He was never at a loss; he had been trained not to panic, not to lose focus. But this was a shock, the impact of her sudden presence was as powerful as if he had been punched in the gut. He hadn't realized, he thought, how hungry he had been for the sight of her, otherwise why blurt out something he'd kept from her five years ago?
Almost no one who met him knew his real name. It was safer that way, for both parties. So why had he told her, this woman who had every reason, if not to actually hate him, to at least avoid him? She had heard him tell her husband to, in effect, kill himself. She had been standing there staring at him with her eyes black as night, her face paper-white with shock, when he told Dallas to press the button that would end his life as
well as complete the mission. That wasn't something a woman forgot, or forgave.
She was almost as pale now. For a moment he hoped she hadn't heard of him before. It was possible; he was in black ops, his name whispered among people in operations, but she worked on the technical side and would
seldom, if ever, come into contact with field operatives.
Her throat worked. "John Medina is just a legend," she said, her voice strained, and he knew she had indeed heard stories about him.
"Thank you,' he replied, "though I don't know if I like the word just. I'm real enough. Want to bite me to prove it?"
You can write to Linda at P.O. Box 2099, Gadsden, AL 35903.
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