Thanks to Laura Oles for writing the following guest post about her new book, Daughters of Bad Men. She’ll join us February 5th at 7pm to talk about the book along with Terry Shames and James Ziskin.
Jamie Rush has been following me for years. She lurked in the background as I worked, as I ferried my kids to school, and as I handled the ordinary demands of daily life. I couldn’t shake her, couldn’t get her off my trail. I worried I didn’t have the time I needed to tell her story, but it didn’t matter. She wouldn’t go away. I would need to give her the proper attention she deserved so she would get out of my head.
It turns out she now occupies more space than ever.
Jamie Rush is a skip tracer in the island town of Port Alene, Texas, and is the protagonist in Daughters of Bad Men. In this first book in a new series, Jamie and her partner, Cookie Hinojosa, take on the emotional task of finding Jamie’s missing niece. Accepting Kristen’s case isn’t an easy ask. Jamie’s relationship with her con artist family is a complicated one. She doesn’t trust them, and for very good reason. Still, when Kristen goes silent, she agrees to take the case because…well, she’s family. You don’t turn your back on family.
Jamie’s domestic dynamics are an important part of the story because they have shaped her into the person she is today. Trust comes slowly to her. A handful of people comprise her true family, including Cookie, a pub owner named Marty, and Erin, an underground bookie for the Winter Texans living in Port Alene until their own northern hometowns are free from the cruel confines of the season. These people are her world, and Jamie would do anything to protect them.
Although Jamie knows the dangers of searching for Kristen-emotional entanglements can cloud judgment–she has no choice. She digs deeper into Kristen’s life and uncovers her niece’s most guarded secrets. Exposing the truth will put a target on Jamie’s back and endanger the lives of those she loves.
Port Alene, Texas, is a fictional version of Port Aransas, a place my family considers a second home. It made perfect sense to create Jamie’s world in this town’s image, but Port Alene is a far grittier and darker place than its inspiration. Jamie is running from her past and Port Alene has offered her a chance to start over, to finally plant roots and stay awhile. Her business searching for small time skips who owe debts to those dependent on them being repaid is a steady one. She has finally found where she belongs, although she still keeps a ditch bag under her bed. Even now, she has one eye on the door.
Writers often say that their characters become members of their family, and that’s the case with mine. They are part of my tribe. I get lost in their world. I sometimes hear dialogue in my head. I can’t turn it off and wonder if I should consult a doctor. Although it’s sometimes inconvenient, it’s also welcome. I want to know what they’re up to next, what dangers lie in wait, what will come of each of them as they grow older, grow wiser, more jaded, more hopeful.
Since I started working on Daughters of Bad Men, Hurricane Harvey roared across the coast and took a terrible toll on Port Aransas. Writing the Jamie Rush series allows me to spend time in my favorite island town until its namesake can once again host company. I visited this past weekend and found there are only a handful of restaurants open and still fewer places to stay. The town is rebuilding but it will take time. So, I will continue to write her fictional sister Port Alene–and she will remain untouched by natural disaster. There are enough storms brewing for Jamie already.
If you’d like to help the rebuilding efforts in Port Aransas, please find out how here. In particular, The Ellis Memorial Library lost its entire collection of books. Everything is lost and they need donations of books and money so that they may once again serve their community. You can find out more about how to help here.