Filed under: Guest Posts Oct 30, 2016
Deirdre O’Dare on A Cop and A Con
The unofficial sub-title: and Two Dogs.
Most of my fiction has a lot of me and my life woven into it. Oh, the characters are all individuals and bear no notable connection to me. But I do include a lot of subtle clues in each tale. For example, I’ve lived a good eighty percent of my life in the two southwestern border states of Arizona and New Mexico. Well, more than half of my contemporary stories are set in that region. Also, due to this, I have associated with the members of the various Native American tribes of the area and many Mexican-American or Latino people.
Members of these two groups appear very often in my tales. I try to avoid stereotypes, so these characters may not fit anyone’s preconceived picture of what an “Indian” or a “Latino” is like. To me, they are just people like everyone else, even if they may speak with an accent or sometimes in words that are not English, follow some different customs than I do, and exist between or among cultures. They may appear as heroes, villains, or secondary characters because they are individuals.
The geography, flora, and fauna of these states and various other aspects, such as industries or businesses like ranching, farming, and mining, and the trials and tribulations of law enforcement here, form the foundation and background, the setting, and “color” for most of my fiction. I try not to bog a reader down in too much description, but I also like to give enough sensory details that he or she can mentally picture the stage on which my stories take place.
In this tale, as in many others, the immediate setting is fictitious. There is no Alamo County or towns of Riata and Esperanza. However, there are similar places on the real map, some that I have lived in or near.
And towns really have been eradicated when mining companies decided to create an open pit mine instead of continuing to mine underground. This happened in Grant Country, NM, near the current towns of Bayard, Hanover, and Hurley, where a huge hole in the earth sits at the coordinates where the town of Santa Rita once existed. The pit in Bisbee, Arizona, is much smaller, but parts of the old town or various somewhat separate little communities were torn down or the buildings physically moved back in the early 1950s. Even in Jerome, AZ, where I lived as a small child, the houses on the hill I called home are all gone and have been for many years.
I pictured how such loss of one’s childhood home might impact a person who had been away a long time. Then I had Ike Hernandez experience this. I struggled to keep the scene from slipping into maudlin territory; I think I succeeded, but the emotions touch me deeply and I hope my readers, as well.
Of course, the prevalent drug problem is everywhere, but in the regions along the border, the influence of the cartel in Mexico is omnipresent, a threat hanging over law enforcement at every turn. Many families have lost someone to an overdose, a shooting which takes innocent victims almost as often as deaths in gang warfare, and deals gone bad. That Perry had experienced this close to him seemed completely logical. It gave him a personal stake in this issue.
The old saw many romance writers have come across about conflict came to play. I once heard in a workshop, “If your heroine is a firefighter, make your hero an arsonist.” Well, you cannot get a lot farther apart than a cop and a convict, albeit one who has served his time and is again a free man. That creates an immediate reason why the two protagonists cannot hook up freely at once and go straight to Happily Ever After.
And, last but far from least, I do not write many stories that lack at least one dog! I love dogs and created my “Canine Cupids” series, where a dog or dogs are instrumental in getting their masters hooked up. In this story, they play a rather different role, but Badger and little Rojito early on became critical characters along with the two men. That they play significant roles in the resolution of the final crisis is no coincidence; they were headed there all along!
One final note — the greater part of the Latino men who have been imprisoned come out with tattoos. Some are almost covered with elaborate inked designs, some very artistic, even beautiful in odd ways, and others graphic and visually violent. I chose not to have Ike do this. He is not a career criminal and would not want to be identified by such body art. This was shown in the cover art clearly — no ink on Ike! That lack would be noted by local people with whom he comes in contact and most would consider it in his favor. In a future story, I may bring this out as I did not specifically in this one.