I think a lot about structure of my books—because it’s a crazy difficult balance. My stories are completely chronological and linear. They begin at point A, and end at point Z. What makes it a balancing act is working to tell one essential story from several points of view. There's Jane Ryland, the smart and determined Boston reporter. Jake Brogan, the honorable and determined Boston detective. Then—three more. Different voices. New voices. Some of those characters survive the book, some don’t.
The goal is dramatic irony. Each character only knows what he or she knows. But the reader knows it all. Which means the reader sometimes knows if a character is making a mistake. Is making an unwise decision. Is on the wrong track. It’s how I build suspense. I hope.
So in each book, my task is to create three delicious new point of view characters…people who’ll you’ll come to know and care about—or at least be curious about. And you might try to predict their future.
Here’s someone you’ll meet in WHAT YOU SEE. As we open, there’s been a fatal stabbing in a Boston park. You know Jake’s already there. He doesn’t know it--but you do--Jane’s on the way. What they both don’t know—there’s another person of interest already on the scene. Remember, the book is titled WHAT YOU SEE.
He’d gotten the shot. Totally what happened—well, not exactly totally, maybe. Bobby hadn’t been at Curley Park from the exact moment one. But how cool was it that the bus was late, and he’d been running behind for class anyway, and he always had his camera ready just in case. And blam, he’d clicked off, like, twenty shots in a row.
Had he gotten a good one of the stabbing? Of the person running away? He thought so, even just the back of him. Or her. He couldn’t wait to see, but he couldn’t afford to look yet. If he had? This’d be big.
Bobby Riaz tried to look small and inconspicuous, his red sux T-shirt, with, like, the same typeface as Red Sox, so people sometimes didn’t get it, morons, was pretty much covered by his work shirt. Plus, nobody was looking at him right now. They were all looking at the dead guy under the Curley statue.
Television had that “Send it to 2” thing, where they’d show your photos or video or whatever. All he wanted was to be part of it. Get discovered. Move to LA and hit the big time. Photographer to the stars.
So far he’d been on “Send it” once, last winter, when that truck jackknifed off the Longfellow Bridge, and he’d gotten that photo from underneath, some kind of hot liquid sizzling down into the snow from however the engine worked, and those two huge tires hanging off the edge into nowhere. They’d put his actual name on the screen, photo credit Bobby R, for about five seconds, maybe more, but then they’d put it on the Web site, too. So it was almost like having a published photo, right? All except for the money. And he bet he could get big money for today’s. From someone. He just had to figure out who.
Luckily it wasn’t as hot as it had been, even though the sun was a bitch today. He twisted his camo cap around so the bill was shading his eyes, then turned it the cool way again. Life was all about the image. The sun was making weird glares on everything, and the trees, totally leafy and totally in the way, didn’t help. But he’d gotten something, he was sure. He had the eye. Even his mom said so.
His mom also said he’d get in trouble someday with his picture taking, but she was wrong, what did she know? The paparazzi were all over television, got big bucks and hung out with rock stars. Well, not exactly hung out, since they were always suing them and shit, but he was gonna be different. He figured that if you were nice to people, let them know you understood their fame, they’d let you take their pix.
And this moment, this very moment, might be the time his future would begin. But who would he be when that happened? He had to plan.
Who he was now? Bobby Riaz. What a sucky name. His mom’s name was Jones, even suckier. Maybe he’d be Rob Something, maybe. Rob Avedon? Which was totally made up and didn’t have anything to do with who he really was, but Avedon was a famous photographer, he’d learned that in class, and maybe people would think he was related. Who’d know? The guy was dead. Maybe he could be Bobby Arbus, after Diane. She was totally cool, and dead, too.
Kodak, that was too weird. Bobby Polaroid? He burst out laughing, then choked it back when some lady beside him took her eyes off the dead guy long enough to frown at him. Right, laughing at a murder, not cool. He coughed to cover it up. Pretended to talk into his Bluetooth earpiece. “Oh, so funny,” he said to no one. “But can’t talk now.”
Oh. He had it! Bobby Land. Like Polaroid-Land, which he’d learned in class, too, a guy no one even knew about anymore. No one could argue about Bobby Land. He’d just let people think he was from a famous—and rich—family. Couldn’t hurt, and might even help.
Bobby Land the famous photographer. What was the Boston thing? One if by Land? He laughed again and got another glare from the stupid woman. He clicked off a shot of her when she wasn’t looking. Take that, sweetheart. There’s one by Land.
HANK: So what do you know about Bobby? One commenter will win an ARC of WHAT YOU SEE! (And yes, thank you so much! WHAT YOU SEE is availabLe for pre-order! Right here: