One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about writing the Charlie Fox books is that they are not tied to one location. A part of me can see the attraction of a familiar locale and I know it might be a good idea to do this. After all, tours of Rebus’s Edinburgh, Morse’s Oxford, or Aimée Leduc’s Paris are undoubtedly popular.
But every time I sit down to write the next instalment in this series, deciding where she’s going to be heading off to is one of the things that keeps me hooked. The very nature of Charlie’s job in close protection means she has to be minutely aware of her surroundings. I take it as a challenge to try to weave in as much of the ever-changing dynamic between Charlie and her environment as I can into the fabric of the story.
For BAD TURN, number 13 in the series, I wanted a real European setting. I took Charlie to a bodyguard training school in Germany for one of the early books, HARD KNOCKS, and on a bikers’ fast trip around Ireland in ROAD KILL, but this time out I decided it was high time she made a return to mainland Europe.
I’d driven down to the southern area of France just before starting BAD TURN, and the scarcity of both people and other vehicles once we got away from the cities really set my imagination going. Tailing someone without other traffic to use as cover, for example, would present its own difficulties for Charlie.
The open agricultural land around the Midi-Pyrénées, with its open fields of sunflowers and occasional stunning pieces of modern architecture like the Millau Bridge, took my breath away.
There seemed to be a lot of half-derelict farmhouses that made my DIY fingers twitch to get stuck into them but provided ideal places of cover and concealment, as did the swathes of woodland.
But when I visited several of the magnificent local chateaux, including castles that had been in the same family line for a thousand years, I knew I’d found one of my main locations for the book. I borrowed aspects of a couple of them and created the Chateau de Bourdillon, complete with French aristocrat in residence. The fact he happened to have a somewhat unusual occupation was beside the point…
And then, of course, there was Italy. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Tuscany and Umbria and couldn’t resist BAD TURN visiting some areas that were very familiar to me, as well as others where I had to wing it a little more.
I borrowed the small island of Isole Minore on Lake Trasimeno, for example. In reality, the island is state owned and uninhabited but when you create your own version of the world, you are allowed to bend the rules. I made it the home of a wealthy Italian with a particular wish for privacy. I placed on the island a combination of abandoned monasteries and palaces for him to be restoring. Of course, there would be more reconstruction work to be done after Charlie left than there was when she arrived…
With her love of big motorcycles, Charlie’s no stranger to high-speed chases but I thought I’d take a different tack this time. It didn’t mean I couldn’t have some fun—as well as adding tension—by putting her in a small and somewhat underpowered vehicle like a Fiat Cinquecento. (And if you’re a fan of Fiat 500s, you’d better read that bit with your eyes closed. Let’s just say it doesn’t end well for that poor little car.)
Reintroducing Charlie to a European setting for BAD TURN was quite a ride and I’m already planning book #14. Where will she be next time around? Well, having spent a number of books working overseas, I think she might be ready to return home to the UK. The only question is, will the UK be ready for Charlie Fox?
Bad Turn by Zoë Sharp
Charlie has quit her job in close protection, been turned out of her apartment, and is apparently out of luck. House-sitting in rural New Jersey has to be the pits—TV and TV dinners. A far cry from Iraq... Bulgaria... Afghanistan. Unlucky or not, she happens to be around at the right time to foil a violent kidnap attempt on Helena, wife of billionaire arms dealer, Eric Kincaid. Kincaid offers her a job looking after Helena. The rumours about Kincaid’s business empire say he’s gone over to the dark side, but Charlie is in no position to be fussy. And protecting people against those who want to do them harm is what she’s good at. But when the threats against the Kincaids escalate, and then follow the couple over to Europe, Charlie’s really going to have to up her game. It’s time to take the fight to the enemy. Charlie’s at her best putting an end to trouble. Now she must learn to strike first. And hope that the Kincaids don’t discover the secret she’s been keeping from them, right from the start.
Read the first three chapters of BAD TURN
BAD TURN is published in ebook, mass-market paperback, hardcover and Large Print editions on September 27 2019. For more information visit www.ZoeSharp.com