How did you come up with your main character, Ryan Lock?
In 2006, I undertook a 24-day residential close protection security course in the UK and Eastern Europe. The two main instructors were former members of the Royal Military Police specialist close protection unit. I got to know them both really well and they gave me a unique insight into their lives, their work, and, crucially, their attitudes.
The first thing to say is that if you didn’t know what they did for a living, you’d never guess. Key to their job was the ability to fade into the background. But if someone did threaten their Principal, they were more than capable of, as they put it, ‘giving them the good news’.
Physically they didn’t conform to any stereotype, I had. Not only were they very bright, and articulate, they also had that very dark sense of humour you get from people who have witnessed terrible, tragic events, but who also realise that they have a job to do.
Finally, even though they’d been in some very frightening situations, they weren’t tortured souls. They had a job to do it, they did it, and then when their tour had finished, they went home.
So that gave me my ‘in’ to Lock.
Lock is American, but he served in the British Royal Military Police. How come?
Originally, Ryan Lock was going to be Scottish. But, when I sat down to start the book, he had other ideas. From the first line of dialogue when he’s talking to the receptionist in the lobby of Meditech’s headquarters in Manhattan, he decided that he was American. To this day, I don’t know how it happened. Maybe it’s because my wife is American, and my daughter holds an American passport, and I’ve lived there for long periods on and off.
In the end, Lock and I came to a compromise. He’d be American, but his father was Scottish and had served in the RMP, so when Lock graduated college he flew to the UK to enlist in the same branch of the military. Lock’s father is probably going to pop up later in the series, and I think they’ll be a lot of fun to be had exploring their relationship.
What differentiates him from some of the other series characters out there?
Gregg Hurwitz said that Lock is ‘a tough-guy hero for a new age’, and I’d take that description of him any day of the week.
Obviously comparisons are going to be made to some of the other action heroes out there (especially by reviewers and marketing people), but I really hope that readers make up their own mind. Comparisons are odious, but inevitable.
What other recurring series characters are there in the books?
Lock’s close friend, Ty Johnson, features quite a lot in Lockdown, and even more heavily in the second book (published in 2010). I didn’t bring him in specifically as a side-kick. It just so happens that they met each other while in Iraq where Ty was serving in the Marines. In Lockdown, the security gig at Meditech came up, and Ty put Lock forward for the job, which is how a lot of the private security stuff works.
Carrie Delaney is a TV reporter whom Lock has dated, but because of the pressures of their careers, they’ve never quite got together. She’s smart as a whip, and more than a match for Lock, which is why he’s attracted to her. As to where their relationship goes, well, you’ll have to keep reading the series.