Guest post by Lex Lander, author of “End As An Assassin”.
I lived in France when I was young and wanted to write a story set in that country. The idea for a professional killer as the protagonist came from a French film entitled Le Samouri, starring Alain Delon, which I saw on TV a few years back, and partly I wanted my principal character to be an anti-hero, having read some old thrillers of my father’s written by James Hadley Chase whose protagonists were often on the wrong side of the law.
My father also wrote at an early age and his stories were always being discussed around the table with my mother and my brother. He didn’t take much notice of our input unfortunately, but when he was first published, in 1985, his delight new no bounds. Some of what motivates me must be genetic, plus the ideas garnered from the 2000-plus books we had in the house, over half of which were fiction, and most of those crime or suspense thrillers covering a period from the early 1930s to the present day as was. I read a fair proportion of them, and suppose I must have inculcated themes and ideas from what I read, though I can barely remember today.
When I wrote Another Day Another Jackal, the inspiration clearly came from Frederick Forsyth’s Day of the Jackal. I greatly admired this book, and some of the others that followed from his pen, and have to confess that the subject and the title I chose were a deliberate (some might say cynical) decision to exploit the market that Forsyth had created.
With the new series of thrillers – Andre Warner, Manhunter – there was no such guiding spirit. I sought to create a credible hero, with worries, insecurities, self-doubt, regrets, etc. I wanted to make him flawed through his profession and his relationships with women, which are mostly superficial and lead nowhere. In this I was following in the footsteps of writers such as Robert B Parker and Michael Connelly, but more so, notwithstanding that Warner is an outlaw, whereas Parker’s and Connelly’s protagonists are firmly on the side of the good guys. I have tried to make Warner unique – he kills for money, yes, but only villains. He despises himself, but when he tries to jump off the assassination treadmill his life becomes an empty void, meaningless and soul-destroying. Compensating with placebos such as drink, drugs, and sexual liaisons, doesn’t work, and he is forced back into killing just to give his life some sort of meaning.
In many ways he is a an older version of the mixed-up character played by James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause.
And you may read my review of Lex’s new book End As An Assassin here.