In case you didn't know, I am sharing the stories and inspiration behind my three self-published novels here on the blog. In the last two posts, I told you what inspired Two Bullets and Gathering Stones, the first and second book in my contemporary action series 'The Barrier Ridge Series". All of the books in the series are connected. Each one spotlights a different main character, but everyone shows up at one time or another. If you need to catch up on my blog posts, click here for the one about book one, and here for book two.
Today I'm talking about what inspired my newest novel Battle Wounds, which picks up where Gathering Stones left us all hanging.
Battle Wounds (Originally titled Three Skulls) was a very real battle to finish. I had hoped to publish it like the other two in September, each a year apart, but it refused to cooperate and didn't get published until later in March of 2019. This time around, Jimmie Reeves was my leading man. Think every heroic tough guy in every action movie. We met him first in Two Bullets when Lock first came to town. We were also introduced to his very troubled twin sister Jamie and his adopted brother Jack. (If you'll remember, Jack was the main character in book number two.)
So, when we meet up with Jimmie for his turn in the spotlight, it's more or less right after Gathering Stones ends. I will *never* leave a book hanging on a cliffhanger like that again! It was too artistically stifling and confusing. That being said, I think Battle Wounds is my best book yet. I grew as a writer and knew more of what I was doing. I also felt like in this book I was able to dive deeper into the characters and get to know them for myself.
The bulk of this story was actually taken from a completely separate story I started about a cop in Tennessee. There was a lot of copying and pasting over the last year and a half as I tried to make the two stories become one. This is first found in the beginning, when Jimmie is in Tennessee visiting his Uncle Pete. Also, the barn that burns and the following barn raising was all part of this other story with a different plot. It's fun to create and mess around!
Jimmie is former military, and I approached this topic carefully, not wanting to step on toes. But I liked his demeanor and personality, and his background also gave me a lot to work with. The title refers to the mental and physical wounds he brought back from fighting overseas.
At first I planned on him having a history as a womanizer and a drunk, but decided to change this because I already dealt with that in my other books. Instead, I wrote him as a life long follower of Jesus with a good head on his shoulders and a good heart. That immediately shifted the entire course of the story!
There is subplot in this book about Satanism that started out as the main thing and was the entire point of the original story. I watched the testimony of a former Satan worshiper for research, and afterwards I heard God say, "You know the truth, now go tell my people I have come to set the captives free." While the story changed five times after that, the heartbeat remained the same. Early on I had even gone so far as to take the reader into a Satanic ritual and let me tell you, that got bad fast. It was too dark, even though I feel like the storyline was great. RIP Three Skulls. There are definitely parts that were left over after that particular rewrite, like the characters Abraham Barabbas and Raven Blake, and the satanic church, but I had to lighten things up.
The theme of Jimmie's story is fear and anxiety, starting with his past and then showing up in the lives of those around him. Fear becomes weaponized. I personally dealt with fear ever since I was a kid and it took a lot of Jesus and faith to overcome it. This is a deep topic and everyone seems to have varying degrees that they deal with. Those different levels of fear is was I explored and dug into for this book, from Satanic beliefs to childlike fright. And wouldn't you know it, I started to experience anxiety like I never had before. And I realized that if the panic and fear I was experiencing was just a taste of what others face on a daily basis, then Battle Wounds not only had to be written but it also had to offer relief. Or victory, as I like to call it. Like I said before, God made it clear to me what this book needed to be about and what it needed to offer as a result.
On a lighter note, the biggest goal I had was to make it totally impossible for the reader to know who Jimmie might fall in love with! This was so fun to do. I dislike heavily when I read a book and am told right off the bat which two characters will fall in love. It takes so much fun out of it (for me). So I decided to bring in OPTIONS. Like, 6 of them. I didn't do this like they do in a secular novel or movie where he would sleep with all of them and then decide. Jimmie isn't like that. I did it to keep the reader off balance and to present all these possibilities for Jimmie to choose from. But trust me, it's not as aggravating as it sounds! He doesn't fall for one girl, then another, then struggle to make a decision. It's a slow burn.
Since Jimmie is a lieutenant for the sheriff's department, I wanted to show a lot of what happens on the daily with cops. I was able to live vicariously through him and the others as they go to calls, make arrests, and serve the community in a normal way, without everything becoming a life changing shoot-out.
The villain in this story Abraham Barabbas is probably my favorite villain yet. He is inspired by a disturbing character in the movie Diablo. (Horrible movie, don't watch it.) He's a character in every sense of the word. He's a Tim Burton character in real life; overly done and completely cartoonish, and yet sinister and evil. Due to rewrites, a lot of his scenes were cut out or altered, but man does he know how to steal the show.
The best part for me about this book is that everyone gets involved. The whole gang is back together and we get peeks into their lives alongside what's happening in Jimmie's world. This is simply due to the fact that I love the relational side of TV shows. Hawaii Five-O, NCIS, Third Watch, Blue Bloods... everyone has a story to tell.
This series is relationship driven, and i don't know how I would write it without involving everyone. (Gathering Stones did a detour of this since Jack was out of town on his own and by nature a loner.)
Due to all the changes and rewrites from this one book, I have enough content to write four other novels! But for now, these are the three finished products. Book 4 is coming along slow as molasses, but it is in the works. I'm also working on two/three separate novels. One of them is set in the early 1900's!
So, now it's your turn to talk to me. What do you think of these three books? Do you want more of the Barrier Ridge gang? What characters would you like to see return? Do you have any questions about the who's and why's? Tell me! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to hear your thoughts. My favorite thing in the world is to talk with people about these characters and situations they find themselves in. I also never get tired of hearing what parts of these books speak to you.
Battle Wounds is available on amazon. Just follow the link! ->Click Here!