Detective Jackson’s Detour by L.J. Sellers
The fifth book in the Detective Jackson series, Dying for Justice, is a little different from the others, and I wanted to share the background for how this story developed. I outlined the plot in February of last year. At that time, I planned to give up the series because the second book had a failed launch and I worried that I was facing yet another one with the same publisher. I had two more Jackson books written, with one under contract. I thought if I could launch a different series with a new character and new publisher, I might be able to save my career. So I mapped out a plot in which Detective Evans, one of Jackson’s sidekicks, was the lead character with Jackson as a strong secondary character—hoping my old readers would come along with the new series.
Then everything changed. My husband and I were laid off our jobs, e-books started to take off, and I re-envisioned my novelist career. (If you’re interested in that story, here’s a link) I set the new police procedural aside to rewrite two standalone thrillers and put them up on Kindle. Next I regained the rights to my series and self-published the first four Jackson books. That took most of the year.
In October, my series became a bestseller on Kindle and readers were asking for more Jackson novels. At that point, I was finally ready to start writing again. After reading through my outline for the Evans-based story, I decided I really liked the plot and would go ahead and write it, giving the two detectives equal POV roles.
So my latest Jackson story features Detective Evans as a major POV character. She and Jackson each work their own homicide cases and tell their own stories…which of course come to overlap in a stunning twist.
Check out my review of Sex Club by LJ Sellers
Every story I write is based at least partially on a social issue I’m feeling strongly about at the time. When I conceptualized this plot, I couldn’t stop thinking about prisoners who had been released after their convictions were overturned. In several cases, the suspect had been coerced into a false confession. I felt compelled to highlight the issue, and in book four, Passions of the Dead, I’d mentioned that Jackson’s parents had been murdered and the killer had gone to jail. It was the perfect opening for a novel involving a false confession. I worried that having Jackson reopen and solve his parents’ case would seem cliché, but it’s only half the story. Detective Evans also works a case from the past and her main suspect is a police sergeant. The overlapping stories are powerful and readers have responded well to the novel.
The other theme in Dying for Justice is the issue of family estrangement. I’m very close to my own siblings who all live here in Eugene. But my husband went for years without talking to his brothers, and I’ve discovered that the phenomenon is fairly common. I wrote about this issue to help me understand how it can happen to families.
Using two protagonists and cases made the story challenging at times, but I had a blast writing from Evans’ POV. She’s very different from Jackson—more physical, more impatient, more impulsive—and it was liberating to let her out in full action. In fact, once I developed Evans’ character more fully, I liked her enough to bring her forward into the futuristic thriller I’m writing now. My hope is that basing this standalone book on a familiar character will bring my Jackson readers along for the ride.
For more information on L.J. please visit the author at her website LJ Sellers.Com
This article is part of the Off The Record collection.