I told you why I write, and what I enjoy writing about the most. But I failed to answer one big question which is frequently asked of me, ‘Why them?’. That was intentional; there’s an answer to that question, but it’s a complex one and it deserves a post of its own.
Why Lexa and Ash? Why them, and not someone else? Why is he blind? Why are they never going to end up together?
As I said, it all started with a thought. I wanted a female heroine. I wanted her to be tough, but she had to have flaws too. I wanted her to be smart, but to make mistakes. I wanted her to be fierce and strong minded, but sometimes (well, a lot of times) that would get her in trouble. And I slowly started building her in my mind. I wanted her to be young (younger than me) so that she would still have a bit of a naivety to her, and the possibility of growing into one remarkably fierce woman. And I would name her Alexandra, just so I could shorten that to Lexa, which is a nickname that is totally kick ass. And she’d live in London, because I find that city absolutely beautiful, and the Underground is a great way for a PI to quickly get from one place to another.
Then I realised that I needed someone to accompany her and help her. I thought, I’d take a man, but not a potential boyfriend. I wanted someone older, more mature. And I thought Lexa could be a student and the man could be one of her professors. But I didn’t want this to be too one-sided. If his role was to help her grow and reach her full potential, then I wanted her to be able to bring him something in return — and I didn’t want him to be a perfect, well rounded person either; he had to have flaws too. This was the point where I thought, why not make him blind, and ill-mannered, and closed-off? And so… Egan came to life (only he didn’t quite have a name yet, he was just him). As such Lexa could be his eyes, and he would be the ears. And because she’s so fierce and fiery, he would be the exact opposite and be cold and collected.
And that’s how you create co-protagonists who complement each other in a completely dissymmetrical way (only it wasn’t so clear right from the start — it took months to fully flesh everything out, and get all the aspects under control).
Then I gave Lexa a mother, and decided that they would get along well. I decided that her father was out of the picture, to make room for Egan and give them the possibility to forge a sort of surrogate father-daughter relationship. And I tossed in a potential lover, with curly raven hair, an unshaven look that gives him an edge, and dimples when he smiles. And I gave Lexa a best friend, only to be able to kill her, brutally.
I created a villain. Several of them actually, but I put a lot of energy to create one major bad-ass villain … that you actually never see. Because — and that’s very true — there’s nothing scarier than a monster you never see (I think it was Mark Gatiss who said that, or at least it sounds like something he could have said). And I gave him a cool nickname (I wanted to use the Fixer, but that was already taken). After all that effort I made plans to keep him around for several books.
And Dimitri? Well, he totally invited himself to the party, somewhere along the way. I’m still unsure from where he comes, and how he found out there was a party to crash in the first place. He could be a spy, or something. Or an arms dealer, or something. Or maybe, he’s really a good guy … or something.
And then, I decided to laugh a little, and I gave my main characters proper names. And it became my own private joke. Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan — the woman of fire and the man of ice. And Lexa became the grand-daughter of an Italian immigrant, whose family name means snow. And Egan grew Irish roots, and was given a name that translates to fire (and a first name that means ford by the ashes, but that’s another story).
Wish you guys a nice day… or something,