Also, Austin is giving away a copy of his book in Kindle format, so for a chance to win a copy, check out the competition details at the end of the post.
Now, without further ado, I'll hand over to Austin.
How I came up with Stark & O’Brien
In The Ice Woman Assignment, ex-mercenary Morgan Stark and retired jewel thief Felicity O’Brien take on a Colombian drug cartel. For two people to undertake such a mission they would have to be pretty extraordinary. I’ve been asked to explain how I came up with such astonishing characters.
My original concept for the series revolved around three basic ideas I thought would be fun to play with. First, I wanted to write partners who were exceptionally capable, yet fallible. Growing up I loved the Batman comics and was attracted to the idea of writing characters whose skills and training would be near the limits of human ability.
Next, I wanted to create characters not often seen in thrillers. So I started with Morgan Stark, an African American although there are very few African American stars in adventure thrillers. That is an odd fact, considering the high number of non-whites in the Special Ops community. Where they do most of their work, in the Middle East and Central America, it’s easier to move around unnoticed if you have darker skin. Morgan lied about his age to get into the Army at the end of the Vietnam War. As a member of the group that grew into Delta Force he learned every useful soldier skill before striking out as a Mercenary. This adventurer has an unerring sense of direction and is a perfect judge of distance. These skills, I thought, would get him through any jungle. And to make him more unique, he can sense danger approaching.
Starting with the ultimate warrior I considered creation of his partner based on the third concept I wanted to explore, the idea that opposites attract. So it had to be a woman, neither African nor American. And instead of travelling in the world of soldiers and adventurers she would be part of a more sophisticated underworld. So arose Felicity O’Brien, a native of Ireland. I invested her with all the skills that would make for the perfect thief. To mirror Morgan’s extra abilities, Felicity has an unerring sense of time and a similar awareness of danger.
The partners complement each other, with Morgan perfectly suited to a career in personal protection and Felicity ideally qualified to protect people’s property. Their personalities grew organically out of their abilities and their reasons for acquiring them. Morgan became a grim fighter with a smart mouth. Felicity is a lighter soul with her own quirky sense of humor. Morgan’s personality may have grown out of Bogart and McQueen, only from the African American community. Felicity’s personality may trace back to Cary Grant and Errol Flynn, if they had been women.
Once these characters became real to me I realized that I loved them equally and needed them to be equal partners. Too often in fiction a pair that begins as a team becomes a star with a sidekick. Neither of these people had the kind of personality that would allow them to be someone’s sidekick.
The paranormal edge surfaced last. My characters were sexy, but they wouldn’t work as partners if they became romantically linked. They already had exaggerated abilities – why not link them? I realized they would sense danger approaching each other as well as themselves. And under extreme circumstances they would each actually feel what the other felt. That offered a number of fascinating story ideas to explore, while also making it impossible for my heroes to be lovers.
There’s also a redemption tale hidden in Stark and O’Brien’s history. After meeting and forming a legitimate business, they are both growing into better people. After her life of crime and his years killing for hire, these two friends are working to clear the evil of their pasts.
So after creating Morgan Stark and Felicity O’Brien I am fascinated by their journey. All good fictional characters come to their story with unresolved pasts. The rising and advancing of these two spirits drives every adventure, even their daring flight into Colombia to face an army of drug producers in The Ice Woman Assignment.
Austin is the author of five detective novels in the Hannibal Jones series:
For more information about Austin; please visit http://ascamacho.com
This is the 4th novel in the Stark & O Brien adventure series.
A drug called Ice is being imported by a Colombian group known as the Escorpionistas. Morgan Stark, a retired mercenary soldier, and Felicity O’Brien, a retired jewel thief, operate a security business. Federal agencies hope their street connections can help them trace the source of the new drug before it becomes too popular to stop.
Stark and O’Brien have a special gift, a psychic link that also alerts them to danger. But Anaconda, the leader of the Escorpionistas, has a secret weapon too: clairvoyant brothers who warn her of the threat Stark and O’Brien pose. Even before they begin the case, Stark and O’Brien are attacked, and in their first contact with the Escorpionistas, O’Brien is injured in a way that shakes her confidence.
Frederico, one of Anaconda’s psychics, escapes her control and asks O’Brien for protection. This begins an extensive chase, as our heroes dodge killers from California to Texas while following the clues that lead to discovering how the Ice is getting into the USA. But that victory is short lived. When the Escorpionistas recapture Frederico, Stark and O’Brien must take the battle to Colombia, leading to an explosive finish as they face death suspended beneath Anaconda’s helicopter.
To enter is simple:
- Hop on over to Austin's blog and comment on his post, which you can find here.