Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the East Coast in 2012, didn’t bring many good things with it. But, for Michael Prescott, it did bring the concept for a new book. In this interview, the New York Times Bestselling author talked about the story behind his latest release, “Blood in the Water.”
From Hurricane Sandy, Prescott decided on an opening scene. He said, “A guy is trying to deal with his rapidly flooding cellar as the storm moves in, when Bonnie Parker, an assassin who works to get justice in cases the law can’t reach, shows up and shoots him dead.”
The typical criminal who shows up after a hurricane is a looter, not an assassin. Why did Prescott think he was onto something with this particular character in mind? “Well, in all honesty, ‘Blood in the Water’ is mainly escapism—though it’s a dark brand of escapism, with murder, torture, and a morally ambiguous heroine. Still, there’s a hint of a serious purpose. This is the second in a series about Bonnie Parker, a tough-as-nails PI who kills bad guys when all other measures are impractical.”
The other reason Prescott felt that he had a good protagonist in Bonnie Parker is what Prescott calls a loss of faith in institutions. He said, “She’s named after the historical Bonnie Parker, of Bonnie and Clyde fame. A continuing issue in these books is whether or not we should really be rooting for a gal like this. As people lose faith in our institutions, there’s an increasing tendency to cheer on the outsider who lives by his—or her—own rules. But is this healthy? When does it go too far?”
Prescott wanted a story in which he could pit his protagonist against villains he describes as “the worst of the worst.” Bonnie Parker is the type of protagonist who colors outside the lines according to Prescott. He also noticed a gradual shift in reader tastes toward characters who are more complex.
“Although the first book generally got a good response,” said Prescott, “some readers questioned why I’d want to write about a hard case like Bonnie. To me, it’s the borderline cases that are often the most interesting—the people with mixed motives, who aren’t all good or all bad. And unfortunately I think it’s probably getting harder to believe in people who are all good, anyway. Even Superman is being reinvented with a darker, more conflicted persona.”
In “Blood in the Water,” Bonnie Parker discovers that the hit she thought would be routine has turned out to be anything but. She now has a crime boss bent on avenging his nephew’s death and he’ll wade through an ocean of blood to get his revenge.
In 2007, after twenty years in traditional publishing, Michael Prescott found himself without a publisher. To his surprise, when he began releasing his older titles along with new novels in ebook form, he discovered he was popular with readers and became a bestselling ebook writer. Prescott now enjoys the ability to pick the subjects he wants to write about. One of his favorite quotes is from Alfred Hitchcock, who said, “Some films are slices of life. Mine are slices of cake.”
To Prescott, Hitchcock’s quote means that he doesn’t have to write about his personal experience, which he describes as “boring.” He said that he begins with a situation that interests him, then researches his topic to ensure that his books are accurate. He believes that accurate details are an important factor in how readers evaluate books. “Readers are more knowledgeable than ever,” he said, “but in the end, it’s the overall imaginative effect that really matters.”
Learn more about Michael Prescott on his website at http://michaelprescott.net.