Monday, December 27, 2010

The Story Behind the Novel

by Jonathon King

Jonathan King is a former police and court reporter who draws on his journalism experience in writing the Max Freeman crime novels set in southern Florida. The Blue Edge of Midnight, first in the series, won the 2002 Edgar Award for Best First Novel. His most recent novel, Midnight Guardians, continues the Freeman series and is set in the Everglades, where the author enjoys canoeing and airboating. Here he talks about the events that drove him to write his first book.  

If you lived in Florida in the mid 1980s like I did, you know the name Adam Walsh. Yes, the Adam Walsh who was abducted from a local mall and whose subsequent death has been told over and over and spurred his father, John Walsh, to create television’s  America’s Most Wanted and led to legislation to protect abducted children. Adam’s death raised the consciousness of the media, and I was a member of that media.

Part of The Blue Edge of Midnight comes from that seminal event. As a South Florida police reporter I covered several incidents of missing children. I was actually in the home of a missing child in 1990 with helicopters in the air, leaflets being handed out and police dogs on the sniff when the missing child began to whimper from behind a couch where she’d fallen asleep only steps away from where I was interviewing the distraught mother.

The other impetus behind that book comes from Florida’s century long conflict with the Everglades, a pristine ecosystem that has been encroached on for over a hundred years. The battle between Florida real estate expansion and the Everglades is epic. I dovetailed that struggle by creating a character in The Blue Edge of Midnight who believes - as a denizen of the Glades who knows animal instincts - that no animal will try to raise its young in a place where it is threatened. In his warped vision, be believes that if he threatens the young of the suburbanites moving into the Glades by kidnapping their children and killing them, he can dissuade the encroaching hoards from moving into his world. 

When my protagonist, Max Freeman, gets caught up in the villain’s plan by being the first to discover the body of the latest child killing and becomes a suspect, he has to clear himself by finding the real killer.

It may sound simple, but every story has its twists and turns. I am a firm believer that the truth is rarely black and white. The ways of human beings are almost always convoluted and real stories, based on reality, are the ones that teach and yes, entertain us.
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