Hey all! Liz here and I’m so excited for today’s Q&A with a favorite friend. LynDee Walker, author of the Nichelle Clark Crime Thrillers and the Faith McClellan series, is here with me today to dish about Faith. Let’s go!
Welcome back, LynDee! Tell us about your Faith McClellan series, for those who haven’t read it yet (and if you haven’t, you should!!).
Faith McClellan is a modern-day Texas Ranger with a perfect homicide clearance record and a personal mission, itching to shake her ‘new girl’ status—and her famous father’s shadow—and get back to real police work. Eight years in Travis County homicide and two more in the DPS special investigations unit have enabled Faith to deliver answers to 119 victims’ families—answers her own never got—and playing paper courier for her new boss is getting old faster than cold coffee.
As Faith unravels several high-profile and complex cases, secrets that could destroy lives and relationships in powerful circles are laid bare, and fragments of information lead her closer to the truth about her sister’s decades-old murder. Setting personal demons aside, Faith races to unmask evil hiding in Austin’s most sacred institutions before another victim falls…but the truths she chases are often darker and more dangerous than anyone can imagine.
Faith and Nichelle Clarke are both super strong women – I love them both. They’re both driven, ambitious and very focused on justice. But they’re very different in a lot of ways. Can you talk about how you developed Faith’s character?
Faith started out as a secondary character in a darker, grittier standalone with multiple points of view. That book eventually became Fear No Truth, but the story was originally told mostly through the victim, Tenley Andre, and her mother, Erica. Faith was just the cop poking around trying to find the truth, but when I sent it to my agent he told me the cop was the character he cared most about and he wanted to be in her head and know more about her. So I stripped out most of the other viewpoints and told the story through Faith. In doing that, I got to dig deeper into her.
I wanted to write about a Ranger because I was fascinated by the history and the mystique of the organization, and in my research I discovered that women weren’t accepted as field officers in the Texas Rangers until Governor Richards signed a law that forced the agency to hire qualified women in 1993. My brain was completely boggled. I was in high school in 1993. The FBI had female agents in the 1930s. Yet to this day there have been fewer than two dozen female Rangers. It was the last true good old boys club in American law enforcement, best I could tell, and I read some horror stories from women who set out to join early on. So I needed to know what could possibly motivate a person to want to go through that when there are so many posts for women at other agencies. I found Faith’s reason in the Rangers’ ownership of Texas’s cold case unit and relationship with the governor’s office.
I know you were a journalist like Nichelle, but I’m curious – did you ever want to be a Texas Ranger?? I wanted to be an FBI agent…
I never wanted to be a peace officer—before I was a reporter I wanted to go to law school and be a district attorney. I suppose my motive was the same though—I wanted to make sure people who were dangerous were removed from society. As a journalist, I covered a couple of cases the Rangers had involvement in, and I was impressed by the officers I dealt with and intrigued by the almost mythical fascination so many people have with the organization. Plus, they do just about everything a crime fiction writer could ever want to write about.
Yeah, journalism is the next best thing to police work 🙂 I love stories with fraught family dynamics, and Faith’s family definitely has them! Can you talk about that storyline, and how Faith has had to overcome so much from her family of origin?
It’s always funny to me how some things about new characters develop by way of just shooting out the ends of my fingers as I type. The first time I wrote the scene in Fear No Truth with Faith interviewing Tenley’s friend Nicky in the principal’s office, I knew she was a Ranger and I knew she was interested in Tenley’s death because of something that happened to her sister long ago, and then all of a sudden she was telling Nicky that her father was the former governor of Texas. I didn’t even pause to question it or think about implications, that was just part of who she was. The fact that he wasn’t the most scrupulous politician or anything resembling a good father followed on as I got to know Faith better.
Chuck and Ruth raised Faith to be pretty to look at, without taking much interest in her beyond that. From strict diets managed by her mother to dozens of pageant titles she cared very little about, her worth was directly tied to her looks for her entire childhood—except by her father’s bodyguard, Archie Baxter, who valued how smart and determined she was and encouraged her to chase her dream of being a peace officer. I flat out adore Archie, as does Faith.
I am having great fun, as we stretch into books 5, 6, and 7, with exploring the changing (dare I say improving?) relationship Faith has with her mother. My mom and I were always super close, and it’s been really interesting for me as a writer to see inside a relationship different than the one I experienced, and find a way for them to grow to respect one another as adults.
I love that – fascinating. And I love when family dynamics just happen during the writing process! So what’s next for Faith and Nichelle?
I’m super excited to have books in both series due out this summer! Dangerous Intent is the ninth Nichelle Clarke novel, which finds Nichelle’s attention torn between investigating the execution-style murders of hate group leaders and helping an old friend. It is my first co-written project, and Laura Muse brought great insight and life to the new characters we created for Nichelle’s world. Dangerous Intent launches on June 14.
The days leading up to Faith’s wedding are supposed to be easy at work, until she stumbles across a real body during a training exercise that may—or may not—be the work of a particularly ghoulish serial killer. With a dead end lurking around every corner, Faith and Graham work to unravel a complicated case and locate a killer before their big day. No Love Lost launches July 27!
Awesome! Thanks so much for joining us, LynDee – I can’t wait for both these books. Readers, what do you love best about LynDee’s books?