By Corrina Lawson On May 29 2012, 9:30 am
I like cops.
I like reading about them, I like watching television and movies about them, I like researching how the job is different in real life than fiction.
But I've never felt comfortable writing a police officer as a hero. I was convinced I couldn't do justice to real-life law enforcement officers who do a tough job on a daily basis and deserve, at least, to have their fictional counterparts ring true, even if their jobs are spiced up to add drama to fiction.
I finally decided it was time when I choose to write the urban superhero story that became Luminous.
The core of an urban crimefighter/superhero is that he's there to serve justice in places where the law won't or cannot reach. In best Batman stories, Captain (later Commissioner) JIm Gordon is there as Batman's conscience, to make certain a vigilante's quest for justice doesn't cross the line into revenge.
So, the story I envisioned basically screamed for an honest cop in a corrupt world.
I didn't want to go with the basic Batman story of costumed hero and honest cop. That's been done before and done well, particularly by Frank Miller in Batman: Year One. (There's a great DVD of the book.) (And I'm sure for those interested, there's plenty of slash fiction with Batman and Jim Gordon, particularly since they're played in the movies by Christian Bale and Gary Oldman, respectively.)
Instead, I went with a Jim Gordon-type cop and a heroine who wouldn't exactly call herself "super."
"Damaged" is the word that she would more likely use, given that her power is invisibility. Not as much of an asset as it seems, given that she can't also make her clothes invisible.
So she dresses in black and calls herself Noir, relying on a hidden but erratic power to summon blinding light to protect her when she's cornered.
Police Lieutenant Aloysius James isn't sure Noir needs to be arrested, protected or helped. Derisively dubbed "Detective Fixit" by his fellow cops, he gets all the weird and unsolvable cases but he's never encountered anything this strange. Or someone who fills out black leather quite the way Noir does. But there's a hostage at stake and murders to solve and he's learned not to turn down help in his crumbling city.
And she does look awfully fine in that black leather.
I had a blast writing Al and being in his head. Not quite as old or weathered as Jim Gordon, he's determined to do his job and damn what it costs him or even if it makes a difference in the long term. It's what needs to be done and he's going to do it. He's just that stubborn. It's not quite a superpower but it works for him.
I realized as I was doing the edits that Al was a bit of an unorthodox hero, especially as he's the non-powered of the pair. To readers worried he might not be able to hold his own, I wanted them to see him the way Noir does. So here he is, walking into a scene of carnage at a local bank. Noir is hidden, watching him:
“Well, if it ain’t Detective Fixit,” said the balding older officer.
The new arrival didn’t even acknowledge the jab. Like Noir, he was transfixed by the carnage. No, she amended, not transfixed. He walked the scene in deliberate, slow steps, stopping only to kneel before each victim. He was absorbing everything, Noir thought, just as she’d done.
Fixit wore an unbuttoned oversized tan overcoat that exposed a white dress shirt and tie underneath. All three were rumpled, as if he’d just gotten out of bed or had never gone to sleep. His shoes were scuffed and might have been black once but they were gray now. Yet the clothes were at odds with his grim and determined manner. As he came closer, she could see his face. It wasn’t a pretty face, but it was definitely a strong face. Chiseled features, intense eyes and a jaw clenched in what she guessed was anger.
And old-school kinda guy, Noir guessed, though he didn’t seem older than his mid-thirties. Detective Fixit. She wondered how he’d earned that name.
She finds out quickly that he's not without resources, especially since her need to get the bad guy outruns her common sense and she's shot in the leg.
She let her head rest against his shoulder, as she had earlier. He had strong shoulders. “You’re carrying me up three flights?”
“Got a problem with that?” he growled.
“Um, no.” She wrapped her hands around his neck. Cranky Al didn’t seem like a good guy to have an argument with, especially with her leg hurting. Still, despite the pain, it felt good to be carried by him. She was very conscious of the corded muscles of his arms and his fingers on the side of her breast. True to his boast, Al carried her up the steps easily. On the second floor, a man poked his head out of his door, presumably alerted by Al’s heavy footsteps.
“Got a problem?” Al snarled again, this time at his neighbor.
Al isn't much of a conversationalist but he's definitely good to have around. I hope you enjoy reading about him and realize, like Noir, how much is beneath the surface.
One final note: yes, for those who've read Phoenix Rising
, the first book in the series, this story is connected but only tangentially in that it's in the same story world. There's a mention of the characters from PR at the end of the story but you'll have to wait until November to be reunited in person with Alec, Beth, Philip and F-Team in Phoenix Legacy
. I promise, it will be worth the wait. In the meantime, I hope you'll enjoy Al and Noir.