Series-ously--the BackTracker novels
Love for my characters drives my BackTracker series, more than plots and thrills and social comment. I fell in love with my characters while writing Book 1 (THETRAZ) and Book 2 (FATAL ERROR). It was they who drove me to write the sequels and they who to this day compel readers to follow the series.
There are two types of series. In one, the characters don’t age or change they just have different adventures—like the Nancy Drew and James Bond series. In the other kind, characters move through time as well as through adventures. My BackTracker characters age and grow and sometimes slip up as they face down life.
When writing these novels I had no intention to write sequels so the BackTracker plots are wrapped up at the end of each book. However, I became so attached to the characters, I could not say goodbye to them.
In the prologue of THE TRAZ Book 1, Katrina, my series protagonist is four years old. At the end of the novel, she is fourteen. I loved her so much I wanted to know, given the terrible traumas she’d been through—what kind of adult would she become? Would she ever marry? If she were to become a mother, how would she be at raising kids? Would she use her computer skills in a positive way? What career would she choose? Would she break from the wild life or immerse herself in it? Would she testify about the murder she witnessed and would that put her in perpetual danger of retaliation from the The Traz biker gang?
I also wanted to know how the undercover cops would fair once out of gang they’d infiltrated. How steep a toll on their souls did their experiencing of living with evil take? How forgiving of their sins would their bosses be? Would the justice system be? Would they ever be stable enough to establish personal relationships? Some of those questions were answered in FATAL ERROR Book 2 but I remained insatiably curious about Shrug. What secrets was he keeping? What was going on behind his slate grey eyes? Yes, what was it in his past that motivated him to do the most curious of things?
The characters kept dictating to me their stories, slowly providing me answers, sparking more questions. FIREWALLS Book 3 took Katrina into young adulthood, to the cusp of a career and the brink of a mental breakdown. Those years with the violent gang negatively affected all the characters. Until they dealt with their post traumatic stress, it was obvious none would do well. In FIREWALLS they are filled with raw emotions, intent on avenging past wrongs, blaming, betraying, grieving, guilting. Engaging in dangerous behaviours, uninterested in investing in their futures.
As all that was worked through, as romance began blooming, as careers settled in—when I finished FIREWALLS I believed I’d written a trilogy. It was not long, though, before the characters again visited me. Their exciting lives were definitely not finished. They had more adventures to relate, more traumas and successes. More love. It turned out they had a lifetime of living they wanted recorded.
Book 4 SACRAFICES followed. Then Book 5 TEARS, Book 6 FLIP SIDE, Book 7…they are all in draft on my computer. All the way up until Katrina becomes a grandmother and sometimes still, these characters slip themselves in my works in progress, giving themselves cameo roles, revealing tidbits about themselves they’d previously hidden.
I know beyond a doubt, at some point in time, Shrug is going to come to me and agree to tell his story. In the BackTracker series he is secretive and shy. Several times he has tried to write himself out of the story--suicide, murder, lost in the Arctic…I fought hard to make him stay, though. If you read this series, you’ll know why. Young Katrina appeals to my teen readers, whereas Shrug captures the heart of every woman who opens the pages of a BackTracker novel. We all want to give him a hug, tell him we love him even we don’t understand him. We all want to marry him.
THE TRAZ Book 1 (which also comes in a School Edition complete with a teaching/discussion guide), FATAL ERROR Book 2, and FIREWALLS Book 3 are available internationally from all fine online bookstores in both eBook and paperback. If they aren’t on the shelves of your local bookstore or library, ask to have them brought in for you. You can find purchase links to my books on my website and blog.
When will Book 4 be out? It might be a while but take heart. SHADOW RIDERS is at the editing stage and is one of the novels where the beloved BackTracker characters make an appearance. I hope to release it later this year.