I knew when I was writing A World I Never Made, my first novel, that in-depth character development would have to give way to pace and plotting, the two key elements of the suspense/thriller genre. I did not know that I would get the chance, after the final draft was handed in, to expand on my characters in the trio of short stories that ultimately came to comprise Anyone Can Die. When I was given that chance, all of the non-essential thoughts and notes and back stories that I had relegated to a sort of literary limbo over the twelve months it took to write A World I Never Made, began suddenly clamoring for my attention. An attention I was happy to give them.
I turned first to Lorrie Nolan, who died at the age of twenty—twenty-nine years before the novel begins—while giving birth to Megan and leaving her twenty-one-year-old husband Pat (World’s two central characters) devastated, so devastated that he pretty much abandoned Megan until she was a teenager. Lorrie is only mentioned in passing in the novel, but she is flesh and blood in Till Death Do Us Part, on her honeymoon with Pat—raw and wildly in love—in New Mexico. My purpose in writing the story was to give the reader a deeper understanding of Pat’s loss, and therefore of his motives, both in abandoning Megan when she was a child and in desperately pursuing her across Europe as World unfolds.
It was my love for Megan Nolan, not an elucidation of motive, that drove me to write God’s Warriors. Though she would deny it, Megan’s heart was not all black, not completely hardened by the cards life had dealt her. Her decision to help a young girl who has been terribly abused, but to absent herself completely from the girl’s life while doing so, will give the reader an insight into the things buried in Megan’s heart, the things that force their way out when she has to make much more momentous decisions—life and death decisions—in the novel.
Max French, an eccentric FBI agent, also pursues Megan across Europe in A World I Never Made, falling in love with her, from a distance, along the way. What made him so quirky, and why did he fall in love with the women he pursued without ever really meeting or getting to know them? The answers are to be found in the two events in Max’s early life around which Anyone Can Die’s third story, Max, revolve. Max is a man with a past, and a big secret; to my mind exactly the kind of flawed but fearless soldier we want in the front lines of the post-9/11 battles we are fighting at home and all over the world.
James LePore is The Story Plant’s Author of the Month, which means we are offering sensational deals on his work. You can read more about the program here.