By Earl Staggs
First, my thanks to Chester Campbell for mentioning me during The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Chester is a class act as a person and as a mystery writer. If you haven’t read any of his books, you should. Check out him and them at: http://www.chesterdcampbell.com
Now, to the subject of the day. When I say the end is near, please note I’m not a Mayan predicting the world is coming to an end. I don’t think it is. At least not in my lifetime. I’m actually talking about a project I’ve been working on for about ten years.
The idea came to me shortly after the tragedy of 9-11 when terrorists left a scar across the world that will never heal. I was equally horrified, heartbroken and angry. The angry part of me wanted to go out and find anyone planning to commit such a horrible, unspeakable act and exterminate them.
The more I thought about it, the more I thought, “What if a group of people did exactly that?” What if a group tracked potential terrorists, and if they planned to take innocent lives, stop them before they committed their murderous act? Yes, there are alphabet agencies with that responsibility. There’s the CIA, FBI, NSA and others, but they have their hands full with the major groups everyone knows about. They also have restrictions. They take action only after innocent people are killed. My group would concentrate on smaller groups operating under the radar.
The agency taking form in my mind would be secretive and also operate under the radar of scrutiny without restrictions. If they were absolutely certain a terrorist group would attack and kill, this agency would stop them first – permanently with great prejudice. Most terrorists are committed to die for their cause. If that is their wish, this agency would accommodate them. If they want to meet Allah and collect their virgins, my agency would put them in the Express Lane.
I felt it was an incredible idea, but could I actually build a novel around it? Only one way to find out. Try it and see what happens. I worked on it along with other projects for ten years.
I created a main character with experience in Special Forces and named him Tall Chambers. When Tall retires from the Army at the age of 38, he joins the special agency. The agency has eyes and ears all over the world, and other operatives with skills and backgrounds similar to Tall’s fill out the unit.
But that’s when a strange thing happened.
Tall grew as I wrote until the primary focus of the story shifted from chasing terrorists and centered more to how the job affected him and those around him. The agency became only a backdrop for Tall’s personal story.
All his life, Tall wanted not just to exist, but to somehow make a difference. He lost his parents at an early age and joined the Army. The Army became his family, and he felt part of something important. He rises to the rank of Captain, leads special operations, and trains new recruits. When an ugly incident with a superior officer leads to a demotion and assignment to a meaningless job, he again feels adrift and alone. After leaving the Army and joining the agency, he finds a place where he can use his training and skills and be part of something that can make a difference. Although he doesn’t like killing under any circumstances. He accepts the agency’s mantra of “Kill one terrorist, save a hundred lives,” He learns to concentrate on lives saved, not those taken.
When Tall loses someone very close to him, however, his focus becomes entirely personal. He uses the agency’s resources and contacts to find the people responsible for his loss and set things right. His quest forces him to make a deal with the worst terrorist of them all. Then, he has to decide between exacting personal revenge or preventing a corrupt power from moving into the most powerful office in the world.
I was pleased with how this story turned out and feel it could be my best work to date. I call it JUSTIFIED ACTION. As I stated above, the end is near. JUSTIFIED ACTION, featuring Tall Chambers, will be in the house within a few short weeks in both ebook and print format.
Watch for an announcement of the actual date right here very soon.