So… Last post July 12. And I have a book coming out in November. (Grins sheepishly and starts typing.)
Well, maybe this is an opportune time to talk about Second Hand Goods, Book #2 in the Nick Kepler series. In it, Nick Kepler tries to go on vacation. However, when he hooks up with a beautiful Russian girl, he is pulled into a deadly battle between two Russian mobsters.
So, before my summer hiatus, I talked about Northcoast Shakedown, the first Nick Kepler novel. When the small press on the outskirts of Baltimore (as in it had a West Virginia address), I had Book #2 in the can. That book was supposed to be Bad Religion, but I could never get the story to work. Part of it was I didn’t know enough about Nick’s life and situation yet. All the shorts took place before Northcoast at that point, and the relationship between Nick and Elaine had not developed yet.
Still, there was a pair of short stories I attempted that I could also not get to work. I almost gave up on Nick at that point. But one short, I gave the storyline to another character and made him a thorn in Nick’s side.
At the same time, I had this idea of Nick having a one-night stand with a woman who turns out to be a burglar. It got much more complex than that. A few other things fell into it.
The title referred to the Russian woman, Val. I originally planned to call the story “Lady Double Dealer,” from an old Deep Purple song. Yet the line “I ain’t satisfied/Dealin’ with second hand goods.” When I mashed it up with the other story, involving two strippers, the line became the title.
I took the stripper storyline, made it someone else’s, and thus, Eric Teasdale was born. One of the compliments I got on Nick was how realistic he was. So, I created a throwback character, the PI with the flashy car. I gave him sloppy clothes, but I also gave him a believable situation. He’s an auxiliary cop in a semi-rural living in a trailer. Kepler comments on how he can’t understand Teasdale tails people in a big, white 1968 Ford Thunderbird.
Then there’s Nick and Elaine. When she first appears in Northcoast, it’s clear there’s sexual tension between the two. In Second Hand Goods, this amps up when Elaine believes Nick is going to die soon. It doesn’t matter that she’s married. Nick is always there. This makes it awkward later on in the series.
The thing is this song was entirely pantsed. I also wrote much slower. If I could get 500-1000 words out in a day, I’d walk off and think about what came next. I stumbled onto the bearer bonds plot point, a concept in its waning days when I wrote this, reviewing a spy thriller.
The publisher collapsed before this came out. Literally a month before it was to have come out. I sat on it for years and finally released it indie when that seemed like the thing to do. It was the hardest book to put a cover to. Clayborn Press just put a stock detective image on it.
I probably like this better than Northcoast, but I knew what I was doing with it. And it didn’t hurt my career the way decisions around Northcoast had. Still, it was a fun book to write.