Archive for October, 2012




An elevator chimes in the lobby of One Hundred Eighty Grand Avenue, a mirrored midcentury high-rise in booming uptown Oakland and home to the Bay Area offices of the FBI. Jack Kovac strides out between mirrored elevator doors, a different man.

He looks and acts like such a different man, I have to blink. Who is this man? An identical twin brother who covers for Kovac when he calls in sick?

Or maybe it’s just me. Research suggests that people who imbibe strong caffeinated drinks may be prone to seeing pink elephants and other hallucinations. I’ve got an adrenaline buzz that won’t quit as much from the Sumatra Extra-bold I’ve been guzzling all morning as my eagerness to give my statement. I’ve got a million questions of my own for Kovac about Tilden Park.

Jack Kovac is no pink elephant.

He’s smiling, keenly alert but relaxed, and awesomely dapper…

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Alastair Savage

One thing I find very frustrating in fiction is the way that authors introduce minor characters. Often we are just given  a name and a rather sketchy description of the character’s role. In the worse cases, six or seven individuals are presented at once, as little more than a list of names. Then, after a cursory mention on one page, these minor characters crop up thirty pages later, and we’re expected to remember who they are. Personally, I get very frustrated when a character is introduced and we don’t know what they look like, their age or their clothing. If a character deserves a name, then surely we need to know something more about them?

I always try to give some visual guide to a character, and here is a scene from my second Siskin and Valderan novel, where our heroes encounter a group of Becklingberg soldiers for the first time…

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Beauty through humility and dirt,

a rose shines through the hurt.

A single one or a dozen,

either or or demands some loving.

Fragile yet strong,

short lived yet long.

The life span of it from a seed to full bloom,

the obstacles it overcomes,

before it is presented to you.

The thorns that lie on the flower,

Painfully pricking those who attempt to devour,

Pain protects the beauty,

what a miraculous power.

A rose…so much more than what meets the eye,

What a life it lives before it dies…

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