Pole dancer… #killerfest15

Category: Author Post

Every character starts out with a few short sharp details. In the opening sequence of a Bond movie in that one small circle, you get: man suit gun bang. When I first created my heroine I got: bipolar FBI agent bang. Because with that one adjective “bipolar”, everything kicked off. I’ve spent the last five years writing a heroine with a mood disorder and the surprises keep on coming.

Special Agent Ren Bryce was first launched – straight to missiles – in Blood Runs Cold. She’s lying on the bathroom floor after a wild drunken night that culminated in a spectacular fight with her boyfriend that continues through the opening scene. Not her finest moment. Special Agent Ren Bryce: never quite a saint, often a sinner.

My first two books, Darkhouse and The Caller featured a male hero – NYPD Detective Joe Lucchesi. I loved writing Joe and being in his world, so to devote years to someone new, I knew it would have to be someone special, someone different. And along came Ren. I knew that if my heroine was someone hardwired for conflict, it would intensify whatever external conflict she was part of. To put someone bipolar into a world of crime brings unlimited drama.

No one knows what to expect with Ren, but the more you get to know her, the more you can feel what she is feeling, and at least guess at the outcome. You won’t always like what she does, you won’t always understand what she does, but neither does she.

Ren is beautiful, intelligent, insightful, sharp-minded, funny, loyal, and loving. She can also be risk-taking, paranoid, and aggressive. But she is always determined. As a reader, you’re not always sure that what she is pursuing or whom she is pursuing – professionally or personally – is the right person. At times, the disorder will strip her of logic. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in her life, it doesn’t matter how important the investigation is, how closely her boss is watching her, or how much is at stake. Without warning, another force takes over the controls. It creates all kinds of unexpected twists.

I didn’t want to create a bipolar bad guy. They exist, of course, but through Ren, I wanted to shine a light on the gifts that come with being bipolar. It’s a misunderstood condition. For most, only the lunacy is seen – the celebrity meltdown that hits the headlines; the agonisingly public fallout of a mania that even the person themselves can’t comprehend. Yes, there can be spectacular fallouts, but no one, A-list celebrity or otherwise, seeks it out. Another force is at the controls.

I wanted to shift the focus, to show someone bipolar who performs brilliantly at work, who can have an uncommon clarity of vision, who has stable times in between the wilder ones. It’s not all errors of judgment, and drunken ramblings, and failed relationships.

To get thanks from bipolar readers or their family and friends for creating someone bipolar who is strong and accomplished, has been the best compliment I could ask for. To be told that I have helped even one person have hope has been a wonderful, unexpected twist.

Blog by Alex Barclay


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Behind the Title of Harm’s Reach by Alex Barclay

Category: Author Post

Alex Barclay’s latest crime novel is called Harm’s Reach. She explains why…

At the dark heart of every crime novel is a secret – a buried thing that throws together people who otherwise may never have met: the initiator of the secret, the keeper of it, the victim of it, and those whose job it is to unearth it.

Most of us will play all these roles in life on some level, major or minor, but in choosing them, we can be forced to make a moral call. Will keeping this secret cause harm now or in the future? Would it compromise my principals to keep it? Could it damage me? Will I be forced to lie about it to other people? Am I capable of doing that? Do I want to?

Everyone is hiding something in Harm’s Reach. Special Agent Ren Bryce and her team have to discover who and what, while struggling with secrets of their own.

“My reasoning would be that the reach of good men is often hindered. In contrast, I fear that harm’s reach has no bounds, and – far worse – invisible fingers.” from Harm’s Reach by Alex Barclay.

The quote above is from a letter that opens Harm’s Reach and sets the scene for a story about the damage caused by secrets kept over the course of a century. The letter was sent by a man of vast wealth and power to his brother, a priest, and we won’t discover the true subject of it until the end.

As the story unfolds, we see how both action and inaction can contribute to the damage caused throughout this time, and how, maybe, if someone had spoken up somewhere along the way, so much pain could have been avoided. A secret is like a bullet; small, compact, and powerful. It can be stored safely in a box, never to be used. If released, it can fly off harmlessly, striking nothing, or it can cause grievous wounds.

It has always fascinated me the lengths to which people will go to keep their secrets hidden, and to hide the secrets of others, especially when the potential for damage is huge. And it’s tragic how, with enough money, silence can be bought, and people can evade the law.

In Harm’s Reach, one secret leads to another, in the same way as one victim leads to the next. However, if the right person is on the case, with the ability to see the dark thread of decades of lies and manipulation, a hiding place can be thrown wide open. And that’s the place we all want to explore…

Want to read the book? Buy here now http://bit.ly/1EXAxM0

Exclusive: An Author's Story Behind her Leading Lady

Category: News



Before Homeland’s Carrie Mathison, there was Special Agent Ren Bryce of the FBI – created by bestselling author Alex Barclay. Like Carrie, Ren struggles with bi-polar disorder, and in this exclusive post, Alex explains why it was so important to her to create a successful, functioning bi-polar character, who is not the bad guy.


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