Q & A with Reed Coleman

Blind Spot is the first installment of the Robert B. Parker Jesse Stone series, and is now being authored by Reed F. Coleman who has been commissioned for the next three novels. The plot has Jesse invited to a reunion of his old Triple-A team where he is forced to grapple with his memories and regrets over what might have been. Kayla, his former girlfriend and current wife of an old teammate is there as well. While at the reunion, he is called back to investigate the murder of a young woman and the disappearance of her boyfriend.


Elise Cooper: What process did you have to got through to replace Parker as the author of the Jesse Stone series?


Reed F. Coleman: When I was first offered this gig it was for a one-book deal. That happened after I did a fifty-page audition for the estate. I then had to sit down and discuss the plot with the editor. By the time I finished writing Blind Spot I had a four-book contract. I guessed I pleased who I had to please. I tried really hard to be true to the nature of the characters as set forth by Bob Parker.


EC: How did you prepare yourself for writing this series?


RFC: Fortunately, I had previously read several of the novels in the Jesse Stone series. After being chosen I re-read many of these novels to get a sense of the tone. With any series there is discovery, editing, figuring stuff out, putting new stuff in, while all the time creating a world. The pressure comes from knowing that there are millions of fans out there with expectations of what should be in a Jesse Stone novel. I hope I wrote the best book I could while following Parker’s form although not necessarily his style. Parker had laid out the groundwork for me since he masterfully built Jesse Stone in three dimensions. Having written several of my own series characters I understood the mechanics and the pitfalls of a long story arc. I came to the challenge with a great deal of respect for Mr. Parker and a love for the character Jesse Stone.


EC: What makes up the Jesse Stone character?


RFC: His sense of right from wrong. He does not always know what’s right but definitely knows what’s wrong. He drinks too much, on and off. Yet, that struggle is what connects the character with the reader. Everyone struggles with something and often has deep regrets. His drinking is quite essential to the series. Yet, it never reduces his impulse control. There is always a price for Jesse to pay after drinking. I have seen it as a problem many police offers suffer from.


EC: How does baseball play into the story?


RFC: There is the fact that Jesse had his dream shattered, being the starting shortstop for the L. A. Dodgers, when he was injured in a minor league game. It is having something you really want, come close, and then something happens to shatter that dream. I also wanted to make baseball allegorical for something. I hope the readers see the simile with the quote, “Baseball was a game of subtleties and opposites. At bat, the greatest players failed seventy percent of the time. In the field, if you were anything short of near perfection, you were considered a failure. Homicide investigation could be like that too, like fielding.” A great homicide investigator must be like a fielder, not a hitter. If you want to stick around as a detective you better be more successful than one-third of the time.


EC: Aside from Jesse Stone which Parker character did you enjoy writing?


RFP: The easy answer is Molly. She is about Jesse’s age. A tough Irish Catholic mom who is a very good cop, no matter what locale she works in. She has good cop instincts and sees the world for what it is as she tells it like it is. She has a complex relationship with Jesse, which is why the banter between them works so well. Is the relationship one of friendship, just employee and boss, or will it turn into something beyond friendship? I also like Luther “Suit” Simpson who represents that goofy teenager. He is like the boy who is seeking approval from and admires his figurative dad, Jesse.


EC: What do you want the reader to get out of Blind Spot?


RFP: Good entertainment. I would like to expand the fan base beyond the huge following of Mr. Parker. I want to bring in new fans as well. An understanding of what regret does to people. How loyalty plays into people’s lives. A deeper sense of who Jesse is.


EC: Can you give a heads up about your next books?


RFP: I am writing a new series that should be out next summer. The main character is a retired Suffolk County Long Island cop, Gus, who is very satisfied with his life. But when a family tragedy strikes, his world explodes and his life is thrown into disarray. The first novel, Where It Hurts, tells the story of his re-emergence and how he helps an ex-con find the people who murdered his son. It is through solving the case that Gus finds some unexpected answers about himself, the nature of tragedy, and gaining control.


The next Jesse Stone book will be out next fall and is called The Devil Wins. The plot involves an old crime that happened in Paradise before Jesse was police chief. It is a story of a crime that happens when Molly was a teenager.