Brenda Roseberry is young, brilliant, and relentless, but her moral compass is radically skewed. Recruited by the secret government agency Special Crimes Response And Mitigation, she dispenses depraved justice to the streets and the corporate boardrooms of America.
Whether globe-trotting to exotic locales or prowling the dusty backroads of California, she strikes fear into the hearts of her targets, employing disguises, devious technology of her own invention, and deadly fighting skills.
Her only friend, an MS-13 gangster, manipulates her even as he assists her. Will the dark secrets of Brenda's adolescence and the shocking truth behind SCRAM destroy them both?
In early 2017, I was about one-third finished with the first draft of a novel when my mother passed away. Unable to continue with the story, which dealt primarily with the MC’s inability to cope with loss, I was equally unwilling to allow my creative momentum to wane. So I began to write something completely different, just to occupy my time, really. I envisioned a young woman character as sort of a riff on my previous one; a twisted, vigilante version of her. A scene about a strange recruitment into a clandestine organization came to me, and I wrote it out.
As things sometimes happen when writing, the new character, Brenda Roseberry, and the story that became Ricochet, took on lives of their own. I don’t outline novels, preferring to let the characters lead the way, because they tend to do that anyway. Ideas came and went inside my mind every day, but Ricochet was written organically, one scene to another, and slowly. Some days only a paragraph or two would come forth. Others, a page or two. But I love to immerse myself in my story, spending each morning working on what I’d previously written, yet always with an eye as to what might come next. I hate taking days off, and do so only when absolutely compelled. After three months, I found myself with a completed first draft, amazed at how things came together for the climax, the various loose ends and weird circumstances all fitting with each other like a giant jigsaw puzzle that gradually solved itself.
Even with an anti-hero like Brenda, who pursues criminals with unabashed viciousness, I realized I needed to create a backstory that might allow the reader to relate to her if not sympathetically, then at least with a modicum of understanding. In doing so, I had to confront my own demons—at least some of them. I made her an orphan, and even if that wasn’t my fate, at least I know a thing or two about painful loss.
Perhaps even more challenging was explaining Brenda’s past victimizations by sexual assault. This is truly a stain on our civilization, a kind of emotional murder that all-too-often goes unreported and unpenalized. Long ago, my life was also peripherally touched by such a heinous act. So I decided that Brenda would be different, allowing her to achieve the vengeance I so yearn for in others, albeit in a rather harsh, draconian manner.
Likewise, I see a world where Wall Street criminality is usually ignored or treated with kid gloves, despite the drastic effect it has on lives, notably exemplified by the financial crisis of 2008. Other forms of corporate malfeasance are no less disgusting. Chemical companies commit what amounts to mass murder, yet typically go unpunished. And while I’m sure there are many fine, upstanding lawyers out there, the way the legal craft is often practiced makes me sick to my stomach.
I wanted a “Bondian” aspect to the story, so, besides Brenda’s sneaky ways and penchant for disguise and performance, I made her a brilliant engineer who devised her own gadgetry. I chose to gloss over technical details, and instead show the effects of her work, which produced some of the more fun elements to expound.
My decades as a rock climber made incorporating that into Brenda’s persona a no-brainer, and even though I was pretty good, I made her better than that. Maybe all those years helped me appreciate the power that women have, as there were certainly many who could out-climb me on a regular basis.
Novel writing is an emotional roller coaster, an exploration into one’s own psyche and perceptions that must be merged to the always-present technical demands of prose. Ricochet isn’t my first novel, though it’s the first that, after numerous reappraisals and edits, seemed on a professional level. I’m fortunate to have an excellent proofreader for a wife, who also knows what works about a story and what doesn’t, who isn’t afraid to point things out. I’m also lucky to have “stumbled” onto Acorn Publishing, benefiting greatly from the expertise of Holly and Jessica and of course my wonderful editor Laura. I think my mom would have liked Ricochet and the no-holds-barred way I’ve depicted Brenda. I enjoyed the experience of creating her a great deal, and I look forward to my next fiction odyssey.