Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Guest Post: Imagining Jefferson Winter…

Today it's my stop on the Prey blog tour so it's my pleasure to welcome James Carol to the blog to introduce us to his main character Jefferson Winter.

I’d like to tell you that Jefferson Winter appeared to me in a dream, that there was a moment of blinding epiphany and there he was fully-formed and ready to go striding across the page. Unfortunately, if I did that I’d be lying. The truth is that he was a character who was more than a decade in the making.

His origins can be traced back to YIN YANG, one of my earlier unpublished novels. Originally the lead character was going to be an FBI profiler, however, when I started writing the book it quickly became apparent that I didn’t have the writing chops to create a believable American character, so, instead, he became a British detective inspector .

Fast forward to the winter of 2011. I’d been trying to come up with a series character but not really getting anywhere. I’d always felt that I could have done a better job of YIN YANG, so I decided to do a complete rewrite. The biggest difference was that I went back to Plan A and made the lead character an American FBI agent. Within a couple of chapters it was clear that this was a completely new book. More importantly, I realised that I had a character who was interesting enough to lead a series.

The next stage in his development was an epiphany. One night I was having trouble sleeping and I started wondering about his family. What if his father was a serial killer? The idea was good enough to get me out of bed. Within half an hour I’d sketched out the execution scene that was later used as the prologue for BROKEN DOLLS.

When the novel was finished I submitted it to my agent, Camilla Wray. At this point the character was about seventy per cent of the way there. Her suggestions increased that figure to around ninety per cent. One suggestion was to change the name. Numerous emails later we came up with Jefferson Winter – for the record Camilla came up with Winter and I came up with Jefferson. A couple of drafts later and BROKEN DOLLS was ready to be submitted to publishers. The book was picked up by Faber and came out in January 2014.

But that’s not quite the end of the story…

I’ve now written six books featuring Jefferson Winter – four full-length novels and two novellas set during his FBI days.  With each one I’ve got to know him a little bit better. In particular, the novellas have been a real eye-opener. Meeting Winter as a precocious nineteen year old has been an experience, to say the least.

As for what’s next … I’m just about to start work on the next novella. I’ve got some rough ideas about what might happen, but I know that when I start writing that Winter will have different ideas. And that’s the beauty of this character. He’s his own man, with his own ideas and opinions. I can’t wait to see what he gets up to this time.

PREY by James Carol is out now (£7.99, Faber & Faber)

Has Jefferson Winter finally met his match? 

Six years ago a young married couple were found brutally stabbed to death in their home in Upstate New York. Local police arrested a suspect who later committed suicide. But what if the police got it wrong? 

Ex-FBI profiler Jefferson Winter is drawn into a deadly cat-and-mouse game with a mysterious female psychopath as she sets him a challenge: find out what really happened six years ago. 

The clock is ticking and, as Winter is about to find out, the endgame is everything . . .

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