For many years, I worked as a home inspector, hired to tell people what was wrong with the houses they were buying. In 2010, I realized that many of my clients were young men and women who had just come home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I followed the news of these wars fairly closely, but I realized, to my shame, that I hadn’t given much thought to the men and women we’d asked to fight in these wars, or what their lives might be like afterwards.
A good home inspection lasts three to four hours. It’s a strangely intimate thing. A new house represents a moment of change, creating space for a new family, or downsizing after a divorce. People don’t buy homes often, so I’d almost never met my customers before, and I’d likely never meet them again. For that reason, people felt safe confiding in me, sharing their hopes and fears.
These young veterans, they told me about their lives, both what they’d experienced overseas and what they were dealing with back home. They showed me their scars, their prosthetic limbs. They told me about their nightmares. They’d signed up for war to serve their country, and maybe get some money for university, with no idea of the sacrifices required. Young people think they’re invulnerable. They think they’ll live forever.
I fell in love with these men and women, their idealism, their enormous hearts. At some point, because of these conversations, I began to write about a character named Peter Ash, a former infantry officer and combat veteran. I knew he was troubled by his time at war – in fact, in the first Peter Ash novel, The Drifter, he is badly damaged – but I also knew that he wanted to be useful, to make a difference. And that he would be deeply human, flawed and ferocious and sometimes afraid, but also full of determination and hope.
Peter’s world has grown quite a bit since that first book. As Peter learns to cope with his post-traumatic stress, he also falls in love with an investigative reporter named June Cassidy, and becomes close friends with a career criminal named Lewis, the most dangerous man Peter has ever met.
Together, they get into a great deal of trouble. Their adventures take them from the worst neighbourhood in working-class Milwaukee to the high-tech coast of California. From Denver, the Cannabis Capital, to Memphis, the home of the blues. From the frozen wasteland of northern Iceland to the wide-open Great Plains of Nebraska, and beyond.
My goal is to write exciting, page-turning stories that bring fascinating people and places to life, exploring the best and worst that America has to offer. Readers tell me that Peter, June and Lewis are pretty good company. I hope you come along for the ride.