Back in 2014, while working on a thriller manuscript, I ran into a problem. My main character, a good cop in a dangerous world, had ended up in an impossible corner and needed help. But a key part of the story was that he had been left without allies, which meant his rescuer had to be somebody new. Quickly I came up with a fun but functional character; a rogue ex-cop with underworld connections and a sharp, cutting wit, the kind of guy with a wolfish grin, a cigarette always stuck behind his ear and an ambiguous moral code. His name was Jack Carlin and, as intended, he turned up, played his part, and bowed out of the story after two brief scenes.
That book never saw the light of day. And while I’d enjoyed writing Jack, I didn’t really think about him again. Until I was writing the first draft of what would become The Inheritance. Maggie was exploring her father’s history as a corrupt cop and to further that I needed somebody who was from that world but on her side. Somebody whose dangerous exterior masked a twisted sense of honour. Jack fit that bill and so he jumped over from the previous manuscript, except this time his role was bigger and so I got to know him better, learning more of why he was the way he was, what drove him. He was still a joy to write, and I figured he would reappear down the line as a recurring role in further Maggie stories.
Then, while developing our lockdown web series The Pact last year, I was casting around for a surname for protagonist Morgan and caught sight of ‘Carlin’ on my bookshelf. Immediately I thought ‘damn, I’ve already used that’, then moments later thought ‘hang on, what if…’
So Morgan became Jack Carlin’s daughter and while The Pact was every bit her story, it gave me the opportunity to explore Jack from a different angle. It also meant that somebody had to play this character who had for so long existed only in my head.
As far as I was concerned, there was only one somebody for the job.
Greg Caine appeared in two episodes of The Pact and brought Jack to life perfectly. The little smirks, the quick responses, the glimmers of pain underpinning his seemingly harsh choices – he was every bit my character.
Clearly, by this point Jack Carlin had a hold on me. Which meant that when my agent asked if I’d be interested in writing an original novella for Audible, it took about three seconds for me to realise who it would be about. And one more second for me to realise who had to read it.
So, after seven years of supporting other character’s stories, Jack finally takes centre stage today in The Consequence, a crime thriller all his own. I wrote it alongside the final version of The Inheritance and while it’s linked to that book, it’s also very much its own thing; a bruising, wry, blast of pulpy Aussie noir. I’m really proud of this little story but more than that, I’m stoked that readers (listeners) now get to hear Jack Carlin’s own story in his own words, brought to life by Greg’s pitch perfect narration.
The Consequence is available to listen to now, free with an Audible subscription/trial. I hope you like it.
Writing words about writing words.