knowing how a book is going to end before I’ve gotten half way through, and I like itwhen every chapter leaves me hanging. I think I’ve achie
ved that with the book.
As for the protagonist, Leopold Blake, he’s really a mash
-up between multiplecharacters. Holmes was certainly the starting point, but I wanted to bring the character more up to date, and make him a little more ass-kicking. Holmes, although of formidablephysical strength (I think at one point, Conan-Doyle refers to him bending an iron poker in half), rarely used his muscles in the field, favouring his mental capabilities instead. Ifigured
why not use both? What would that look like? What I ended up with was aSherlock Holmes / John McClane character, who
despite his best efforts
regularlygets his ass handed to him, only to get up again and keep on fighting.
For me, it’s what makes a great character –
having some kind of special skill that
makes them unique, but not so superhuman that they don’t taste defeat now and again.
As for my decision to make him American
well, that’s the marketer in me. I write for
my audience, most of whom are American (by about 10 to 1), and becaus
e that’s what I
like to read
if it’s good enough for fellow Brit Lee Child, I figure it’ll work for me.
RC: Have you ever lived in America and did it give you insight into the American
way of life and American law enforcement as Irishman John Connolly’s
residence inMaine and elsewhere did for him? Or did you have to do in-depth research?
NS: I’ve spent a good deal of time visiting family in the States for the last twodecades, often for several weeks at a time, but I’ve never lived there full time. I th
ink Americans can often under-estimate just how much the rest of the world knows abouttheir culture, lifestyle and politics
just through the sheer amount of visual and socialmedia that covers every aspect of their lives. I was brought up on a diet of Friends, ER,
Cheers, CNN, Hollywood summer blockbusters and Presidential scandals. It’s hard toavoid picking up the influence, so research wasn’t really required for that aspect of the
y’all ain’t so different from us, ya hear?
RC: I see Leopold more like a Batman with Robin on a lot of steroids (Jerome).
Yet you’ve described the Leopold Blake series as a cross between Sherlock Holmes
and John McClane of the
film franchise. What’s similar and what’s dissimilar
between the heroes?
NS: Robin on steroids
I like that! I touched on this earlier, but I think it’s to do
with vulnerability. With Holmes, we never really get to see him fail. With McClane, he
spends so much time with someone else’s boot up his ass, that we never get to see him
think. I wanted to bring brains and brawn together a little more, and have some fun withit.
We never really know much about Sherlock’s or John McClane’s upbringing, andwe don’t really care. We just want to see them kick butt. With Leopold, as the series
develops, his background becomes more and more important
in book one (Panic)
he’s very much this cocky, young crime
-fighting, billionaire badass
but by book two