As I wait for the final proofed copy of This Angel Town to come back so I can give it the final touches for publication, my mind has been focused on my next writing project. I’d thought to start the next Jason Chance novel. (The idea for a new mystery called This Midnight Town has been floating around in my head for some time. It will be connected to events–and a character–from an earlier Jason Chance story. Oddly enough, it was partially inspired by watching the HBO documentary, Bowie: The Last Five Years.)
In the past few days, though, a new idea has taken hold, delivered by the muse to keep me on my toes. A character has started to develop in my head. It feels like he deserves his own book, the first of a new series. He’s a dark character, tougher and grittier than Jason, and much more damaged. Not quite an anti-hero, but a hero with a more ambiguous take on the world in general and crime specifically. His name came to me in a flash, during a dream: Nick ‘The Nightmare’ Acero. He’s an ex-con, living in a rundown apartment in the San Fernando Valley part of L.A., who took the fall for someone he loved and it cost him everything, financially and romantically. He did his time, kept his mouth shut and his nose clean, and he boxed as part of a rehabilitation program (hence the nickname). Now he’s out and working in the North Hollywood community where he grew up, teaching teenagers to box at the local youth center. He also picks up illegal private eye work on the side–mostly tracking down and rescuing children in jeopardy–hired by people with their own shady histories who can’t turn to or rely on the police. He has a personal agenda, as well; he’s searching for someone from his past–maybe for revenge, maybe to make amends. We won’t be sure for a while.
As I write this, I’m starting to see Nick’s first adventure. And I think this will be the next novel. Jason could use a little time off. He’s had a rough few months (as you’ll see when THIS ANGEL TOWN is released in June). Instead, I’ll start the first of The Nightmare Novels. Maybe go full noir and set them in the 50s, or maybe the 70s. (It’d been fun and interested to do a period series.) Each title will depict a street or area of L.A. as well as a sensibility: Just Below Sunset. Hollywood Overlook. Down in Venice. L.A. Superior.
Now I can’t wait to get started!