Years ago I attended a workshop on creating conflict at an RWA convention. The presenter said, “If one of your protagonists is a fire fighter, make the other one an arsonist.” While the premise seems almost ridiculous, it really isn’t. There needs to be a real issue to stand in the way of each pair’s smooth journey to happily ever after. Without it, there is really no story. While I have seldom gone to such extremes in my stories, I recognize the importance of major roadblocks each partner must detour or overcome to finally win their beloved.
A Cop and A Con is just such a tale. What can a very dedicated rural deputy sheriff and a recently released prisoner possibly have in common? Now simple humanitarian concern might cause the deputy to stop and pick up a lone walker on a stormy night but what could possibly compel him to offer more assistance and then a friendship that could develop into a life changing bond? Answering those questions is what this tale is about.
The two men, Perry, the deputy, and Ike, the convict, are both very real to me. Neither of them is based on a real person or even fragments borrowed from a number of people yet I ‘knew’ them from the minute they emerged from that mysterious vault most writers have somewhere in the backs of their minds. At first I may have related the most to Ike. I’ve never been in prison or even spent a night in jail but I do know what it is like to be alone and feeling friendless, to be trying to return to a home you know does not exist anymore. I truly did feel Ike’s pain. And the little dog he’s picked up–it’s my own wee Rojito in a slightly different guise. I knew that dog was going to be important too. He came into the story for a reason.
Perry has his ghosts and demons as well. He has chosen a career in law enforcement with the intent many start out feeling–to stop crime and prevent more young people from tragic drug-related ends such as took his younger brother from him. Perry, too, has a dog, a misfit dog who bonds with him and fills the need for a partner on his long, lonely patrols. The small impoverished county he serves cannot afford two car teams and they do not have official canine units. Percy finds in Badger a perfect canine officer to guard his back.
So, two men and two dogs, all misfits or loners in some ways, each in need of a home and a family. Yet there are so many roadblocks they have to triumph over to reach their goal. That is what A Cop and A Con is about–an affirmation love can win through and overcome at least some of the evil in the world.
The setting is real to me, as well. I have had law enforcement people in my family and know the harsh realities they face in today’s world. Here along the southwest border there are unique issues as well as all the normal ones of domestic violence, crime to support drug habits, criminals passing through and the sadly very human greed, lust and rage fueling bad behavior. Many of the counties in Arizona and New Mexico do not have a strong tax base or other source of financial power so many services are limited. Folks do the best they can with what they have. And finally, there have been mining towns that disappeared or were moved when the companies opened a huge pit or dug into new areas to extract minerals. Imagine simply not having a town there anymore where you grew up!
That is why and how A Cop and A Con came to be written. I hope some of it will resonate with you, my readers!