Thanks to the Lori Rader Day for inviting me to participate in this blog hop. You can learn about the characters from her wonderful book of psychological suspense The Black Hour at her website: http://loriraderday.com
Let me introduce you to June Lyons.
2008. I had been working on another book for three years, a historical set in post-Civil War New York City. The book was dragging, bogged down in an overcomplicated story and tangents in which I showed off my research efforts. I hated my hero. Maybe hate is too strong a word–I couldn’t connect with him or his experience in the world, and I had spent so much time with him that frankly, he was a bit of a bore. To give myself a break I wrote a short story in which a woman watches as Goodwill takes away her dying husband’s belongings. It’s his choice, not hers, but it guts her, making her want to die right along with him. She has cut herself off from the world, pushing away the friends and family who want to help her, and now it’s just him and her, and if he dies, she has no life. She spends a few minutes alone steeling herself to return to her cut-off life, smoking a cigarette to steal a few extra minutes.
In the time between when I wrote the short story and the manuscript for Ice Shear, June Lyons quit smoking, and as well as a lot of other bad habits. In the early version, the loss of her husband defined her wholly and completely. But I felt that I’d seen that before—the lone wolf hero, opting out of human connection, and smoking, drinking and dealing out justice (or sometimes revenge) to criminals. June shifted into something more complicated: a hero who despite the grief gets up each day and tries to do the right thing. She’s learned not to hope for much out of life, and that’s ok with her.
Not that June doesn’t have loner tendencies. As the book starts, she has her father and her daughter, but shies away from connections with her fellow cops, keeping the acquaintances rather than friends. She’s hiding out from life, but life hunts her down. When the daughter of a Congresswoman is found dead, June is thrust into the spotlight, and works closely with a fellow cop and a former flame in the FBI. This crime helps her remember how much she loved solving crimes, taking apart complicated puzzles and serving justice.
She also reconnects with herself in smaller ways. She starts to trust herself, and her humor comes back. While she may not be quite ready to forgive Hale Bascom for the way he treated her husband, he does awaken a long buried part of her that desires men: how they look, how they smell, how their shoulders look in well cut suits.
By the end of the story June has gone from hopeless to hopeful. After expecting nothing but grief and betrayal, she learns to trust herself and more importantly, the people around her. She has stopped spending her life digging her grave, and returned to life.
Look for Katherine Harbour and Shelly King to introduce you to their interesting protagonists!
Shelly King is a native Southerner who packed her bags and moved to Silicon Valley at the beginning of the Internet boom. She works for a major software company as a social media strategist and information architect. Her stories have been published in the GW Review, Epiphany, Slow Trains, the Dos Passos Review, and the Coe Review. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband, two big dogs, and a disapproving cat.
Katherine Harbour was born in Albany, NY, where she attended the Junior College of Albany and wrote while holding down jobs as a pizza maker, video store clerk, and hotel maid. She went, briefly, to art college in Minneapolis, and sold her oil paintings of otherworldly figures in small galleries. She now lives in Sarasota, FL with a tempestuous black cat named Pooka and too many books. She works as a bookseller and dreams of autumn and winter in her stories.