Revisiting Old Friends: Writing "Second Time Around" and the Resurrection of Rick


Writing a Retro Series Means Revisiting the Past

When I set out to write "Second Time Around," the second installment in my retro series featuring Detective John Keegan, I knew I was stepping back into a world where familiar faces would be alive again. Among these characters is Rick, a pivotal figure in Keegan's life who met a tragic end in "Death Knell," the third book in my original series. Bringing Rick back to life in the retro series, which includes "The First Cut," "Second Time Around," and the upcoming "Third and Long," was both a challenge and a joy. I liked writing about the characters now deceased, but it is bittersweet. In "Death Knell" Keegan's father dies. The year it was published, my father passed too. So, this is a bit therapeutic as well as nostalgic.

The Genesis of the Retro Series

When writing "The Lies That Bind Us", the most recent present-day Keegan novel, Keegan faced some remnants of his past. He becomes a bit retrospective, now sitting in the office of his former boss, dealing with detectives similar to him as a younger man. So, I really thought about all those things that swirl in my head when I consider what made Keegan (and all of us) who he is. So, I stepped back into the past and fleshed that out, deciding on Keegan's first case. I also wanted to express what made him so bullheaded and closed-off at the start of the series. That was "The First Cut" which tells of his first investigation and the collapse of his first long term relationship.  Then, I needed a second case, and realized I needed a hook. Rick, his children, and his legacy, became that hook.

The Resurrection of Rick

Rick's death in "Death Knell" was a significant turning point in the series. It was a moment that profoundly affected Keegan, marking a shift in his character and the tone of the books. I remember making the decision to have him die, something I considered for a long time before having it happen. Revisiting Rick in the retro series allowed me to explore the depth of their relationship before tragedy struck.

In "Second Time Around," we see a younger Rick, full of life and vigor, working alongside Keegan during the early days of his career. Writing Rick again required a delicate balance. I had to stay true to his established character while also fleshing out new dimensions that would resonate with readers who know his fate. I also needed to set the stage for what would happen in his personal life, the mistakes he made, the waters he navigated.

Challenges and Rewards

One of the main challenges of writing "Second Time Around" was ensuring continuity and consistency with the existing series. Every interaction, every piece of dialogue between Rick and Keegan had to feel authentic to their established dynamic while adding layers to their backstory. It was a meticulous process, but one that paid off in spades. They never truly liked each other even though they were friends, and I needed to plant the seeds sown in later books.

Bringing Rick back to life also provided a unique opportunity to delve into Keegan's psyche. Readers get to see how Keegan's experiences with Rick in the past influence his actions and decisions in the present. It's a testament to how the people we care about leave indelible marks on our lives, shaping who we become. Even people that drive us completely crazy.

A Journey Through Time

"Second Time Around" is more than just a detective novel; it's a journey through time, exploring the formative years of a beloved character and the relationships that defined him. Writing this book was a nostalgic experience, filled with moments of joy and sorrow as I revisited the past alongside my characters.

For fans of the series, the retro books offer a chance to reconnect with old friends and gain new insights into their favorite characters. For new readers, it's an opportunity to start at the beginning, experiencing the evolution of Detective John Keegan from the start.

Looking Ahead

As I continue to work on "Third and Long," the third book in the retro series, I'm excited to further explore the early days of Keegan's career and the enduring impact of those who were once by his side. The retro series has been a labor of love, a chance to honor the past while enriching the present narrative.

Writing "Second Time Around" and bringing characters like Rick back to life has been a reminder of the power of storytelling. It's a journey of discovery, not just for the characters, but for me as a writer. I'm thrilled to share this journey with my readers, old and new, as we delve into the heart of what makes Detective John Keegan who he is.

Thank you for joining me on this nostalgic adventure. I hope "Second Time Around" resonates with you as deeply as it did with me. Here's to the stories that continue to unfold, and to the characters who never truly leave us.


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