I continued to write my column and update my blogs after my son died but I found that fiction was simply beyond me. I could write about real things - politics and NASCAR and writing - as I do on my blogs but the creativity necessary for creating fictional characters and places and events just wasn't there.
I'd try but I'd end up staring at a blank computer screen, grasping for an idea, any idea but my mind simply balked. I wrote not a word of fiction for 4 1/2 months.
When I did decide to force myself to focus once again on a book-length piece of writing, I knew I had to start with Rafe Vincennes. Rafe is my comfort zone and my familiar. Eight of my books have been about him. I know how he thinks and how he'll react in any situation.
He isn't always a comfortable character though. He's been called a sociopath and a autistic savant. Even his own son isn't sure he has a conscience. None of this concerns him. He lives life by his own individual credo.
As a child, his father said raising him was more like raising a wild wolf cub than his other normal children and even as an adult, he's still the alpha male, guardian of his pack, always alert for danger and willing to do whatever needs to be done to protect them.
He's a champion race car driver and an actor, married to an actress who has been voted The Most Beautiful Woman in the World. She is his north star to whom he'll always return but he is chronically unfaithful. Sexual adventure is a completely different part of his life and, to him, has nothing to do with family.
Once I sat down after my long respite from fiction, I sought him out...and there he was, waiting to take me along on his adventures.
"Come on," he said, "I'll pull you out of this funk you're in."
I'm 30,000 words into my next book, thanks to my faithful sidekick. Well, really, I think it's the other way around. He's the primary who determines the action and I'm the sidekick who records it.