Derek Stillwater Visits JA Konrath’s Universe. It’ll provide you with some information on why I wrote what I did and how it came to be, if that’s the sort of thing you’re interested in.
So rather than regurgitate that here, I thought, since I wrote things backwards—starting on a novel first, then realizing Joe wanted a short story first—that maybe I could share with you how Derek Stillwater first met Jack Daniels. The events occur only a day or two after the events of JA Konrath’s DIRTY MARTINI, and I expect the novel will be published sometime mid-2015 if I can get my crap together and finish it.
For those of you who haven’t read DIRTY MARTINI (what the hell are you waiting for?), a mass murderer dubbed The Chemist is using Botulin toxin to kill random chunks of the population of Chicago and Jack headed the task force to track him down. As I said earlier, this occurs just two days later:
Realistically speaking, I was on administrative leave while the aftermath of, well, everything, was documented. But my captain and Superintendant Terry O’Loughlin had made it quite clear that although I was behind a desk or at home and not on the street, I had to make sure the Chemist task force was wrapped up with a bow, all the I’s dotted, T’s crossed, and whatever clichés the brass could come up with to say, “Lieutenant Jacqueline Daniels, chain yourself to the computer and file paper until your eyeballs bleed.”
The glamorous life of a hotshot homicide detective.
I was currently in a conference room with thirteen boxes of paperwork. Big boxes. Really big boxes. Many dead trees. A lot of this was in the computer system, but I still needed to go over the notes from various members of the task force and make sure everything was in order before they all got filed, distributed, and the inevitable civil lawsuits, complaints, and finger-pointing commenced. The sewage treatment center seemed quite intent on suing the CPD for blowing a big hole in their facility.
So I welcomed the polite knock at the door.
The guy standing there stood a smidge over six feet, had thick wavy brown hair, electric blue eyes, and managed to look both wiry and strong. He was good looking in a beat-up sort of way. He wore court shoes, blue jeans and a tight black T-shirt with U.S. Army Marathon written on it. He wore a handgun in a holster off his right hip. I noticed that the T-shirt fit him very well.
“Can I help you?” I said.
He smiled and it was a great smile, one that made his rough-around-the-edges look all the more appealing. “I hope so. You’re Lieutenant Jack Daniels?”
“Did your mother have a sense of humor or is that a married name?”
“Both. You are?”
He handed me a badge folder. It said Dr. Derek Stillwater, Department of Homeland Security.
Handing it back to him, I said, “You’re late to the party, Doctor. We’ve already solved the case.”
“Ah. Well, actually, I’ve been here the whole time. I came in with the FBI’s HMRU, but we decided Rick Reilly would be the liaison with the CPD.”
I flushed. FBI Special Agent Rick Reilly, part of the Hazardous Materials Response Unit, was what one could euphemistically call “as hot as a supernova.” He knew it, and I knew it, and we almost consummated it on my desk. Stillwater caught the flush, cocked his head and suppressed a little grin.
“What do you want, Doctor?”
“Overall, I think you did a great job—“
“You came in here to congratulate me?”
He sighed. “I’m not here to criticize you, if that’s the second part of what you’re thinking. But I’ve been working closely with the CDC on this case. As you know, they were collecting all the patient lab results and interviewing survivors and family members to help locate the epicenters of the poisoning.”
Stillwater still stood in the doorway, very close to me. I stepped out of his orbit, frowning.
“Yes, okay, fine. Why are you here?”
Stillwater took a deep breath. He glanced at a rugged-looking black watch on his wrist. At the same time, I noticed black beads he wore around his neck and a silver metal chain that disappeared beneath his shirt. The beads were a little different for a Fed and I wondered what they were all about.
“Look, it’s almost noon. Why don’t I take you out to lunch and explain what’s going on. At the very least you can take a break from all the paperwork.” He gestured at the table.
“It has to be done.”
“Please,” he added. “It’s important.”
Derek sez: So, okay, they get introduced. Seems there’s a copycat and Derek’s been assigned to hunt down that person. I’m really looking forward to writing the rest of the book. But I thought I’d give just one more little taste, because I enjoyed writing the scene so much. Jack and Derek have just interviewed the Japanese Consul in Chicago and after leaving the interview, run into an old partner of Jack’s.
Back out on the street, Stillwater turned and glared up at the building. Chicago pedestrians responded the way they always do, by ignoring us and flowing around us like a sandbar in a river. I said, “Problem?”
“Besides the obvious? What the hell was that all about?”
“I thought you were being unreasonably pleasant.”
“I could have kicked him in the head, but it probably would have been counterproductive.”
“I think he was blowing smoke. I wanted to push him on it.”
“I’d like to know more so I have some facts to shove down his throat. Besides, technically the Consulate is Japan territory. Nobody will back us up if we try to pressure this guy in his office.”
We started walking back to headquarters. “Okay,” I said. “Which victim? The math professor or the laser guy?”
Stillwater shrugged. He seemed distracted. “You comfortable driving in the city?”
“Sure. My car’s a piece of crap. What’re you driving?”
“Big Buick. It’s a rental.”
“You get to drive.”
“I think we might want to bring my partner in on this. It’s going to snowball as we get going.”
“Yes. Do you know him?”
“No. Saw his name in the reports and in the news. Is he any good?”
“How do you expect me to answer that?”
“Jackie! Jack! Jackie, Jackie! Jack!” It was a very familiar voice. We turned. Sure enough, it was Harry McGlade, trotting toward us. But the second he spotted Stillwater, the color ran out of his face.
“Uh, hey, Agent Stillwater, howya do—“
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone move as fast as Stillwater. I’ve studied Tae Kwon Do for years and still work out once a month, but I’ve seen masters who didn’t have the kind of “quick” that Stillwater demonstrated.
One second he was next to me, the next he was on Harry, his fist gripping Harry’s throat.
“You remember what I told you last time? What I would do if I ran into you again?”
Harry let out a strangled gargling sound. He raised his prosthetic to grip Stillwater’s wrist.
“McGlade, you touch me with that thing and I swear I’ll tighten my fist.”
“Let him go,” I said, even though I was kind of enjoying this.
“I don’t want to see you again,” Stillwater said, and let go.
Harry, massaging his throat with his good hand, said, “Geez, Stillwater! You some kind of psycho or something? I’m just here to talk to Jackie.”
Scowling, Stillwater walked to the curb, leaning one arm on a parking meter. He didn’t take his gaze off Harry.
“What do you want, Harry?”
“It’s about my spacesuit—“
“For crying out loud, Harry. Give it a rest.”
“I loaned it to you and you ruined it.”
Harry had a spacesuit of sorts that he uses for God knows what fetish and he loaned it to me when I needed to enter a house the Chemist had booby-trapped. The suit was ruined and Harry wanted me or the city to reimburse him for it.
“Go find some other kink, Harry. In the meantime, send your bill to the mayor’s office.”
“Hey, I got a party to go to—“
Stillwater took his gun out of his holster.
Harry gulped. “You know what, Jackie? I don’t think it’s a good time. I’ll talk to you later.” And he turned and rabbited down the street.
Stillwater put the gun away, which was a Colt .45 1911 semiaut with a pearl handle. It seemed a little flashy for him.
“I don’t know whether to thank you or chastise you. How do you know Harry?”
We continued walking. Stillwater said, “I was in Chicago about four years ago investigating a bioterror threat and our paths crossed.”
“I gather it didn’t go well.”
“I threw him out of a window. It was closed at the time.”
Something I had considered doing many times. “You have a temper?”
“Not so much, but McGlade brings out the worst in me.”
“He does that to people.”
Derek sez: So, if you like that little sample, pick up BLACK RUSSIAN. If you don’t like that little sample, hell, pick up BLACK RUSSIAN anyway, you’ll get your money’s worth.
And thanks Joe, for the opportunity to team Derek up with Jack and for Derek to terrorize Harry McGlade.
Joe sez: Thanks, Mark.
I've been a fan of Mark Terry since reading DEVIL'S PITCHFORK five years ago. (You should go buy it.) Stillwater is a fun character, and watching him interact with Jack and company cuts to the essence of why I did Kindle Worlds in the first place; playing in another writer's sandbox is fun, but bringing series characters together is really fun.
Ebooks allow for so many things that paper never could. Authors can change cover art as many times as they want to. They can fix typos, or rewrite entire scenes, after publication. Readers can download ebooks anywhere, anytime, inexpensively. It's all win.
But being able to do crossovers, where fans can see two heroes from two different series interact, is practically unprecedented. This couldn't be done in the old days. Publishers, and rights, once got in the way.
I believe that the more creative freedom given to writers, the better it is for everyone. Being able to work with another author's characters can be as much fun for the writer as it is for the reader.