Over the years, I have talked to many writing students and would-be writing students about the joys and challenges of writing. When students ask me what I enjoy most about writing, I tell them that I love creating characters and world that didn’t exist before I created them. The more time you spend on them, the more detailed they become, and the most attached you get to them. One of the really sad parts for me is when writing comes to a close, and I realize that all the hours we had spent together will soon be over.
I’ve gone through this experience time and time again, and I still have places in my heart for Tom Horn, Harris Borden, Infinity Richards, Douglas Washington and all the other characters I have created in those 19 books I’ve completed.
That’s what I am feeling about Ezra Huddleston. Ezra isn’t the only character that I created in Salome’s Charger. There’s Alain Brassard, the French master criminal who not only is very evil, but has his own personal issues that help explain how he came to be. And there’s Ellie Mae Smithie, the millionaire bounty hunter with a thick Texas drawl and a degree in philosophy in Yale. Ellie Mae is fun to write, Brassard was a fascinating study in criminal psychology. But I didn’t get closer to anyone that I did to Ezra.
Ezra could be referred to as an anti-hero. He’s brash, annoying, egocentric, carries a lot of anger, and rubs a lot of people the wrong way. But he’s also brilliant, brave, honorable, and deep down has compassion for people. He’s damaged goods with the recent death of his wife, but the experience of searching for the missing Charger and the missing professor promises to help him sort things out.
I especially like the chemistry between him and Stevie Sloane, his reluctant partner. Where Ezra thinks first and sorts it out later, Stevie is more careful and organized. She’s a lot smaller in size, but she’s put him in his place more than once. She also has personal issues to deal with, but somehow the relationship between them helps them grow as individuals and as Christians.
Yesterday I featured an interview with the two of them. In addition, here’s a clip of their interaction while in jail together:
The reporter launched himself to his feet with the coiled energy of a jungle cat and came around the desk to meet her, offering her his hand. “Ezra Huddleston.”
“Stephanie Sloane.” She winced, hating the girlie sound of her given name. “But call me Stevie.”
“Okay, Stevie, what do you have for me?” He waved briefly to indicate that she should sit in one of the chairs in front of his desk. The tiny cubicle was crowded and she fought with the chair before it moved enough to allow her to slide into it, wedging her legs painfully between the chair and the desk.
Huddleston looked at her expectantly and Stevie could sense his impatience. It rippled just beneath the surface. Suddenly she recognized him. It was the angry guy from the gym. There was no answering flash of recognition in his eyes, and she knew he didn’t have a clue who she was. Typical.
“I don’t mean to rush you,” he said, clearly meaning to rush her, “but I’m on deadline. Do you want to give me your information already so I can finish my story?”
She blinked at him. The moment of truth. “Ah, actually, that’s what I came to see you for.”
He raised his eyebrow in surprise and then laughed at her and she wilted. Glancing at his desktop to avoid the full force of his displeasure she saw some hasty scrawling on a notepad. Even reading upside down it was easy to make out the words:
Meet Ezra, 7:21 at Amalga? Restaurant maybe?
That was all she had time to read before he broke into her thoughts. “You don’t have any information for me,” he said snottily, “do you?”
Stevie met his frown and raised him a withering glance. He didn’t have anything, either. “I was hoping you could tell me more, maybe something that wasn’t in the paper. I want to help, not just with your story, but with finding the charger and the missing professor,” she said defensively as he rose to his feet clearly putting an end to their meeting.
“I doubt that very much,” he said coldly. “It’s pretty obvious that you heard about the reward and saw a chance to be another rich Texan. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a story to finish. You can find your own way out.”
“But…” Stevie’s protest died as she weighed her chances of getting more information against the thunderous look on his face. “Fine.” She rose with as much dignity as she could given the close quarters. “And for your information, I’m not a Texan. I’m a New Yorker,” she said proudly.
She briefly contemplated offering her hand—in truce? In apology?—but decided against it. Instead, she nodded curtly and threaded her way out of the cubicle and through the office the way she had come trying not to look either abashed or elated as both emotions vied for supremacy.
The important thing was that it hadn’t been a wasted trip after all. She had her first clue.
That’s just a taste of Ezra Huddleston–and Stevie Sloane. The nice part of all of this is that we are considering making the book into a series, which means more adventures for both of them.
But let’s start with the first one. Salome’s Charger comes out Sept. 1.