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When my editor suggest I start another series with female cops, partners, as the lead characters, I was, at first, gun-shy. I thought immediately of something like Law and Order: SVU, or Cagney and Lacey from the 1980's. Big-City stuff. I thought of dark, slick streets, steaming man-holes, women dating in a crowded town, gaslights, subways, and screaming Not really my scene. Not that it’s not interesting, but I’d grown up in a small town in Oregon–a timber town that was very rural and I already had my “big city” series with Detectives Bentz and Montoya in New Orleans.
So, I decided to make the new series about as far distant from the Big Easy as you could get and I wanted a fake-o city, one I could control. The town of Grizzly Falls, Montana formed in my mind, along with the Pinewood County Police Force. I saw a more laid-back department, run by a Sheriff, Dan Grayson, who looked more like a cowboy from a 1950's movie rather than a street tough wise-guy. He even brings his dog to work. And I thought of two women, opposite from each other. The first who came to mind was Regan Pescoli, flamboyant, twice-married, harried mother of two troubled teenagers who bends the rules to the breaking point. Then there was uptight, icy Selena Alvarez, whose back story and secrets keep her at arm’s distance from anyone. Highly-educated and self-motivated, Alvarez does everything by the rules and it drives her nuts.
The characters who litter the town, a guy who thinks he was abducted by aliens, a woman who “talks” to ghosts, the overly eye-shadowed owner of the local restaurant where dead animals are stuffed and put on display, all came together to form the town.
In the first two books Left to Die and Chosen to Die, I introduced these characters and now in Born to Die, I found a couple of new people and animals to fill the pages, a doctor, Kacey Lambert and a rancher, Trace O’Halleran, whose wife ran off and left him with their son. Trace and Kacey find themselves caught in a trap of deception, where women are dying, women who all resemble Kacey. Somehow, Trace and Kacey are connected, and that connection is deadly.
Not only are Trace and Kacey new characters, but also, I introduced Bonzi, a rescue dog who is patterned after a lab/pitbull/boxer puppy that my son adopted and has recently passed away. Bonzi is one of the few characters created by a true being. Oh, yeah, I’ve got Officer Larry Sparks of the Oregon State Police Department–-he’s a true friend of mine, but for the most part the characters are all in my head and resemble no one I know . . . take Joelle Fisher, the bubble-head secretary of the Pinewood County Sheriff’s Department. She’s completely fictitious, but I’ll bet, she reminds you of someone you know!
I’ve got a character roster on my website www.lisajackson.com that introduces you to some of the characters from Left to Die and Chosen to Die, so check it out. While you’re cruising through the pages, you can read an excerpt from Born to Die, or any of my books. Don’t forget to become my fan on facebook, too. We have lots of conversations there. And, as you read Born to Die, look for someone you know in the pages . . . he or she might just be lurking there!
- Lisa Jackson
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