Who is Detective Sergeant John Byron? That is a question I hear a lot. People want to know if the protagonist in my mystery series is me. The short answer is both yes and no. Confused? I don’t blame you. Actually, I’m not trying to be cute. I’m trying to be honest.
In creating Byron I set out to build a character representative of many of the officers with whom I’ve worked. When I began my police career in 1985, the department was made up of two major ethic groups, Italian and Irish. Obviously times have changed, along with the demographics of the department and the city it serves. I decided it would be interesting to follow the child of an “old school” police officer. John Byron is a second generation Portland cop, who grew up on the very streets he now protects. He was raised on Munjoy Hill. His mother, a devout member of the Catholic Church, insisted on John’s attending Catholic schools. John’s deceased father, a devout womanizer and alcoholic, insisted on very little, and continues to be a mystery to John. But both parents had an undeniable impact on who he is today.
In the first book in the Byron Mystery Series, Among the Shadows, we find John struggling with alcoholism, career burnout, and a failing marriage. This may seem like a cliché to many, but the truth is that police work tends to take a tremendous emotional toll on those of us who spend an entire career wearing the badge. The job changes who we are, how we think, and how we interact with others. Dealing with these changes while still fighting crime and chasing down murderers, is what this series is about.
Byron isn’t me, but he tends to think like me. They say that writers insert a bit of themselves into each character. I think that’s probably true. If you’re shooting for realistic characters, something beyond a bag of bones, it’s important that you instill in them your own feelings and experiences. Writing truthfully, even in fiction, is important. The reader knows when you’re not being honest with them. I’ve written, and continue to write, the character of John Byron as truthfully as I can. I want to show the reader the best and the worst of my protagonist. I want readers to see him for what he is. Hopefully, they will root for him, as I do, whether he’s at his best or at his worst.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a real police detective, chasing killers around the clock while attempting to maintain some semblance of a normal life outside of the job, the Detective Byron Mystery Series is for you.