The Detective Novel



I’ve always loved the genre of the private investigator. I grew up reading Famous Five, Secret Seven and the Three Investigators novel series. I also enjoyed Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. As a teenager, I would watch tv shows such as Riptide, Simon & Simon, Jake and the Fatman, Spenser For Hire, Mike Hammer, and so on. The one thing that never seemed to be explored in most of these was how these investigators actually started.

As an older teen, when I started writing my own stories, I came up with a series with a female private investigator. The character went through many changes. She was either a private investigator or an investigative reporter. A few years ago, I finally wrote the first one: Sharp Steele.

My thinking when I wrote the novel was a story in which a character isn’t a private investigator in the beginning. She has to learn to be. So, she’s working for a private investigator. She is asked to do an undercover investigation in a high school. The reason for this is she’s young and looks it.

The problem with the character, for me, was that frankly, she is a pain in the butt. When I was writing her, I didn’t particularly like her attitude.

I’ve realised that is something that is fairly common. I can be reading a novel or watching something on television and discover that I don’t really like the character who is meant to be the hero of the story. The reverse is, of course, liking the villain of the story. Until they do something particularly evil.

There is one television show which I still love, where I really liked the villain. He didn’t start out to be so, and his journey toward it was interesting. I knew from the beginning he was going to be as this story was well-known and has been told in many different ways. To quote the character: “It’s not about the ending, it’s about the journey.”

To be honest, the protagonist of that show did annoy me at times. Then again, he was a teenager. Which is kind of the point I’m making. That teenagers can, at times, be difficult to relate to when you’re older.

So, in Sharp Steele, Amanda is nineteen. Granted, she is technically an adult, and old enough to be working, but still has many of the traits of a teenager that can make her seem obnoxious. Her ‘know-it-all’ attitude was annoying. I still enjoyed writing the story and putting her in situations in which older characters would have known better and having her handle it badly.

When I wrote the sequel (Steele Factor), I chose to develop her as having learnt from her experience. She’s less naïve and a lot more mature, even though only a few months have passed in-between.

I haven’t started the third in the series yet, but I do have a plot in mind. I’m excited to see how this character develops. I do have an endgame for her and another character, but that’s all I will say about that.

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