Thursday, 18 August 2016

A look at the Knight Agency so far...

Another release is coming up, the third Knight Agency novel called “Crime Pays Sometimes.” I’m looking forward to having it out, too, although sales for my two novels have been sparse so far. Because of this, I have decided to do a little post about my first two novels again and add information about the following ones. A little reminiscence and a little advertisement at the same time.

In late September last year, I had the idea to write a parody of James Bond and other heroic agents and came up with the character of Jane Browne (who actually had the last name Bond for about thirty minutes). The idea to work off Bond and his colleagues is actually the reason why Steven’s last name is Quinn (from ‘Q,’ obviously). However, Jane and Steven didn’t cooperate and the story grew and grew. I’m not a very organized author and I hadn’t written anything over 35,000 words before, but towards the end of “Secret Keeper” (available from Amazon here) I was looking at numbers over 50,000. After I had to add another chapter (well, two half-chapters, actually), I even cracked the magical 60,000. An old villain I had created for another story which never got written waved her hands, bangles clanking, and was incorporated after a name change from Morgan Le Fay to Morrigan.

Jane developed into a full character while I was working on this book. The same was true for Steven, for Brock, for Frank, and for Liam. While I was about to finish off the first novel, though, I already had lots of ideas for a second one. So after I finished “Secret Keeper,” I started working on another story.

This one was different. In many ways, “Secret Keeper” is a classic spy story. There’s a megalomaniac with a plan and a heroic (well, more or less so) agent who does everything to stop it. They faced off in an evil lair and all that, too. There was something personal thrown in as well. When I started working on “Key Pieces,” it quickly became obvious this story wouldn’t be about another megalomaniac. My characters aren’t the only people with a common sense - I have one as well. There simply couldn’t be a megalomaniac in every story I would write (and I started to realize Jane was around to stay). So the second story was far more personal. “Key Pieces” (available from Amazon here) challenged Jane to find a kidnapper and murderer before that person could get to her best friend in her official life. Cynthia became more important for the series with that, being the only one of Jane’s friends so far who knows the truth. Jane tried her hands at the work of a bodyguard and hunted down two people who were after money and prepared to kill for it.

By the end of October, I had finished two novels and was ready to start a third one. “Crime Pays Sometimes” again found another angle from which to look at Jane. I used her ability to slip into different personas for this one, gave her a persona which was based on her dark sides, a criminal. Once the novel will be released (towards the end of this month), you can take a closer look at that, too. In a month, I finished this novel, too. I, who hadn’t written a novel in all the years I’ve already been writing, had now finished three novels in a little over two months. It was scary. As scary as Steven pretending to be a cold-blooded criminal mastermind. The perfect role for him, honestly.

“Crime Pays Sometimes” also was the spark for the spin-off series “Black Knight Agency.” A few remarks made by Jane and Steven to give their personas a certain depth stayed with me. What if?, I thought. What if in another reality the Knight Agency doesn’t exist, but Steven and Jane met, nevertheless. What would they be without the guidance of the Agency? But before I wrote that story, I wrote a fourth Knight Agency novel.

“A Plague of Rogues” owes some of its scenery to my love of the very German Edgar Wallace movies from the 1960s and 1970s. There’s often a manor or castle in them, out of the way and with a scary being walking around at night. Mortimer Manor has the Black Monk, who supposedly was killed for trying to rape a daughter of the manor lord a long time ago. Steven, of course, doesn’t believe in ghosts and neither does Jane. But someone is walking around in a cowl and there must be a reason for that… Love was also around the corner for Jane, a lover who was there to stay, a helpmate to be there for Jane when she came back from a mission, to take care of her and help her relax and heal.

Afterwards, I turned to the Black Knight Agency, bringing Jane and Steven together, having them work on heists and slowly draw in the other characters I had established so far. I changed things (a lot of them) and added new ones. A criminal mastermind with a past as a professional killer, a runaway from an abusive foster home, a small alley. What Jane and Steven had been talking about in “Crime Pays Sometimes” came true now, in another reality. I put all of Jane’s growing up into one novel, kept it on a timeline I followed. She met Steven, started to live with him. She learned her future trade as right hand of a criminal mastermind. She met people. She developed abilities. She took her revenge. She became Steven’s right hand and they did quite a bit of work together. And then the organisation Steven had built in over forty years was destroyed. I didn’t want to work with a whole organisation, but as he says himself towards the end: in essence it has survived. Not the lair, but the people and the connection. The Black Knight Agency not only has an investigator, a bodyguard, a banker, and an engineer in addition to the head and his second-in-command, it also has contacts to scientists and mercenaries whenever they are needed. It will work well. “Criminal Ventures” came together well enough, but it was a little harder on me. It starts out rather dark and neither Jane nor Steven are really hampered by a conscience, which meant a higher body count as well.

Another story developed in my mind and I wrote more about the Knight Agency afterwards. This time, I delved into the past and glanced into the possible future, which is why the novel is called “From Past To Future.” Jane has more work to do in this story, she gets to take quite some trips. The past comes knocking, too - well, breaking up the terrace door of Sir Frederic’s home. The position of the female agents of Branch Two - one of which has been in the last two novels before that one as well - changes quite a lot. Traditions are buried and the future is prepared. The Agency will go to war, if it becomes necessary - which will overshadow the following novels, I presume.

Right now, ideas for another novel are moving around in my head and I’m working hard to get “Crime Pays Sometimes” ready for release. If you’re a little interested in the stories now and want to read about a badass female agent who does her own saving, you could take a look at the first two novels. (Links on the blog and in this post.)

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