Behind the Book: High Concept
by Whitley Gray
I started out High Concept knowing that I wanted to write about a damaged homicide detective, someone who had been through hell both personally and professionally and fought to hold on. He had to have an alpha male as a love interest, someone with weaknesses of his own, also in law enforcement. Together the two of them would have to unravel a convoluted murder case.
2011 was a particularly brutal year for Law Enforcement Officer deaths. There were several brutal incidents that resulted in injuries as well as fatalities. I researched this and considered what it must be like for a survivor to continue in this line of work after having seen another officer struck down, and what kind of support that individual might need to get back to work.
What if they lost not only a partner but also their emotional support system? What if they had residual pain from injuries? What if they had PTSD? A forensic psychiatrist generously gave invaluable information on this topic and about the nuances of clearing an officer to return to work. Beck Stryker was born—homicide detective recovering from being shot and suffering from PTSD after seeing his partner killed.
In addition, I asked the psychiatrist about interviewing murderers for pretrial competency, and whether there had ever been a case that led to concern for personal safety. This individual indicated despite excellent security, at times it was still unnerving. When asked if an attack might trigger a career change, the psychiatrist thought that would be likely. Zach Littman was created from the fruits of these discussions. Zach had experienced an attack by an inmate, and lived to tell the tale. It changed his career perspective, and led him to leave private practice and go to work for the FBI.
2011 and 2012 saw a deluge of political ads, becoming progressively more vicious. After a while, I wondered exactly how far a wealthy politician might go to win. Bribery? Blackmail? Would he go as far as murder? How would he do it to insulate himself? Isaac Olivetti is an amalgam of a cast of politicians combined with a sociopathic personality.
Coming up with the twists in the plot and coming up with realistic ways for Beck and Zach to get their information was a lot of fun. I enjoyed writing High Concept, and hope to bring Beck and Zach back with another adventure sometime soon.