Skip to main content

Bracken MacLeod talks WHITE KNIGHT

Once, he had imagined himself slaying dragons and making the monsters pay. But his armor was wearing thin as the women who drifted through his office haunted him with the same, hard-bought lie: "I want to drop the charges." Every bruised face and split lip reminded the prosecutor of the broken home he’d escaped. So when Marisol Pierce appeared with an image of her son and a hint that she was willing to take a step away from the man abusing her, he made a promise he couldn't keep.

A promise that could cost him everything.

Now, he's in a race against time to find the boy, save the damsel, and free himself from a dragon no one can leash before everything in his world is burned to cinders. This is his last chance to be a White Knight.

Some men only know how to do hard things the hard way.




The novella White Knight goes on sale today from One Eye Press. I interviewed author Bracken MacLeod:

Gerald So: Tell me a little about yourself and what led you to write White Knight in particular.

Bracken MacLeod: I'm an ex-lawyer who had a taste of a dream job before falling into a series of nightmare positions. I put in eleven years of practice before I decided that I’d had enough and quit entirely. White Knight was born of two things: first, my own experience learning that what I set out to do as a crusader is not at all what the job is really like, and second, my desire to write an unconventional noir/hardboiled story.

Gerald: From what I've read about White Knight, the protagonist's drive to "slay the dragon" and "save the damsel" only worsens his situation. Are you a fan of white knight heroes like Philip Marlowe, Spenser, and others? Is White Knight a statement against such characters?

Bracken: HA! The Big Sleep opens with Marlowe staring up at a stained glass window depicting a knight trying to free a maiden from bondage. He says, "[the knight] was fiddling on the ropes that tied the lady to the tree and not getting anywhere. I... thought that if I lived in the house, I would sooner or later have to climb up there and help him. He didn't seem to be really trying." Characters like Marlowe and Spenser are morally incorruptible (Spenser is also seemingly invulnerable) and they seem to consciously want to be chivalrous and remain above the mess they get themselves into. The Prosecutor in White Knight is both a reflection of those characters and a subversion of them. Andrew Vachss distinguished his protagonist, Burke, from those characters, saying, "I wanted to show people what hell looks like and I didn't want an angel for a guide." I want to show what happens to good intentions in a bad world. The thing about white knights is that their armor gets tarnished. Anyone who says you can go into the dragon slaying business without getting covered in soot and blood is either naïve or lying. The Prosecutor wants to be Marlowe, but he's probably more like Burke.

Gerald: Do you feel the novella form benefits White Knight's story and pacing? How so?

Bracken: I do. The essence of the story is The Prosecutor’s scramble to get his life back under control in a very short amount of time. Writing that story in a hundred pages requires cutting fat and keeping a pace that matches the desperation of his experience. The reader shouldn't get a chance to take a deep breath and relax—just like him. If I’d written this as a "commercial length" novel there would be no way that I could keep that high throttle propulsion throughout without straining credibility and wearing out the reader. At the same time, that's a huge challenge because I have very little room to establish who the Prosecutor is and why he does what he does. In a longer form, I could luxuriate with his backstory and motivations. It's both a benefit and a burden.

Gerald: What are you reading this summer?

Bracken: I'm working on a new crime novel tentatively titled MARKED right now, So I'm trying to read material that keeps me in right frame of mind to write it. The summer's reading list includes Gravesend by William Boyle, The Ballad of Mila by Matteo Strukul, Shockwave by Andrew Vachss, High Crime Area by Joyce Carol Oates, and The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave.

Gerald So: Thank you, Bracken.


Bracken MacLeod lives in New England and has worked as a martial arts teacher, a university philosophy instructor, for a children’s non-profit, and as a criminal and civil trial attorney. While he tries to avoid using the law education, he occasionally finds uses for the martial arts and philosophy training. His stories have appeared in Sex and Murder Magazine, Every Day Fiction, Femme Fatale: Erotic Tales of Dangerous Women, Reloaded: Both Barrels Vol. 2, and Ominous Realities from Gray Matter Press. His debut novel, Mountain Home, is available from Books of the Dead Press on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Night of the Flood: A Novel in Stories

The Night of the Flood: A Novel in Stories goes on sale March 5. I invited the editors, E.A. Aymar and Sarah M. Chen, to tell us more about it:

It happened the night Maggie Wilbourne was to be put to death, the first woman executed by the state of Pennsylvania in modern times. That was when a group of women passionately protesting Maggie’s imprisonment struck. They blew up a local dam, flooding the town of Everton and indirectly inspiring a hellish night of crime and chaos.

Fourteen of today’s most exciting contemporary crime writers will take you to the fictional town of Everton, with stories from criminals, cops, and civilians that explore the thin line between the rich and the poor, the insider and the outsider, the innocent and the guilty. Whether it’s a store owner grimly protecting his property from looters, an opportunistic servant who sees her time to strike, or two misguided youths taking their anger out against any available victim, The Night of the Flood is an intricate and…

2018 Derringer Finalist William Burton McCormick

I'm a member of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, an informal association of writers, publishers, and fans that has kept mystery & crime short stories in the public eye since 1996. On April 15, the Society announced the finalists for its 2018 Derringer Awards. Members are voting to determine the winners, to be announced May 15.

In the meantime, as I did last year, I'm inviting the finalists for interviews. If you'd like to participate, email me your answers to the same following questions.

Published widely and worldwide, Bill McCormick is up for the Best Long Story Derringer (4,001—8,000 words) with the chilling "Matricide and Ice Cream" from The CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour (November 2017).

Describe your story in up to 20 words.

An American man bumps off his mother on a Ukrainian train. It seems the perfect crime until another passenger starts snooping-around.

What were the most difficult and most enjoyable parts of writing the story?

The story…

Robert B. Parker's Old Black Magic by Ace Atkins

Twenty-five years after the brazen theft of three of its paintings, Boston's Winthrop Museum receives fresh leads in the unsolved case. Succumbing to cancer, art crimes investigator Locke trusts Spenser to pick up the trail.

Spenser rose to fame as a man in the mold of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe in the time and place Robert B. Parker lived, fighting its crime. The series grew to thirty-nine books in Parker's lifetime, but Spenser stopped aging in his forties, the later books no longer reflecting the changing times but drawn mostly from Parker's imagination.

Rather than keep things timeless in his continuations, Ace Atkins takes Parker's original approach, setting Spenser in the present day, somewhat older, still ably plying his trade. This has allowed Atkins to put his own stamp on the series, basing the new cases on compelling true crimes like the unsolved 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft.

Atkins' earlier continuations proved how well he know…