by Earl Staggs
I have the great pleasure of welcoming Randy Rawls as a guest. Randy is the popular author of a series of mystery novels featuring “Ace” Edwards, a PI operating out of Dallas, Texas. Ace is an ex-cop and can be as tough as he needs to be, but Randy considers these books to be cozies. Ace even has two cats. Can you get any cozier?
But Randy harbored an itch to put the cozies aside for a while and write a thriller. I’ve often wondered how an author made the transition from one sub-genre to another. How difficult would it be to put one mindset aside and turn your creative mind in a different direction?
Here’s how Randy describes it.
FROM COZY TO THRILLER
By Randy Rawls
I wrote six books in my Ace Edwards, Dallas PI, series. When I started number one, I simply knew a character I wanted to capture in a story. I did that one and traveled with Ace five more times. And I wanted to highlight some of the small towns in Texas that I grew to love.
Ace and his friends meet most of the checklist as cozies. No graphic violence, sex off page, and clean language. Plus, Ace has two cats. The tick mark the series does not satisfy is Ace is not an amateur investigator. He’s an ex-cop and a Private Investigator. Guess that makes him some kind of hybrid between cozy and . . . Well, I really don’t know. I just know I enjoyed writing Ace and his cats and will return to him someday.
But along the way, I developed the itch to write a thriller, something with more meat in it, a tougher cast of characters, more darkness. Thus, Tom Jeffries was born. His story, captured in THORNS ON ROSES, carries the sadness of one denied justice by laws written to protect the guilty at the expense of the innocent. But Tom is not satisfied to be a bystander and allow the guilty to win. He is resolute in his tracking of the gang, Thorns on Roses, who raped and murdered the stepdaughter of his best friend.
I kept most of the graphic violence off-page simply because I do not choose to write such. But I think you’ll form your own images from the words I employ, especially when the first thug meets Big Al, a large alligator in the Everglades. My hope is that other battles between Tom and the gang members will force you to the edge of your chair, even without gross-outs—unless your mind’s eye creates them.
Before you decide the story is all blood and guts, let me say that Tom has his softer side. Abigail (Abby) Archer, an attorney assigned to keep an eye on Tom, brings it out. Their relationship starts as one of disrespect, but the insults and putdowns mutate into admiration, then a budding romance.
Throw in a police lieutenant determined to track the killers before they strike again, and you have my thriller. One of the problems I faced was how to end Tom’s adventure. He commits atrocious acts well outside the norms of society. Should he live or die once his mission is complete?
I found that switching from Ace to Tom was not as difficult as I expected. I simply had to turn my nasty button up a few notches and remember that the gutters swarm with some truly slimy people. I don’t mean to infer that THORNS is a thriller’s thriller. It’s not noir. But it is an avenger story that takes the reader on a dark ride through the viciousness of modern gangs.
I hope you’ll look at THORNS ON ROSES. It will soon be available as an ebook in all formats and as a paper book. In fact, depending on when you read this, it may already be available.
I invite comments at www.RandyRawls.com.