When I started Venus in Blue Jeans (Samhain Publishing), I wasn’t really thinking about a series. When Cal and Docia had a conversation about their respective families, the fact that Cal had three brothers just sort of slipped out. I don’t even know why I chose three. It just seemed right at the time. I didn’t have much more information about one brother than a name, Pete. Lars was an accountant because Cal needed an accountant to tell him investing in Horace’s vet clinic was a good idea. And for some reason I decided one of the brothers needed to be a black sheep. I named him Erik and had Cal make a couple of offhand references to his bullying.
The Toleffson boys really began to take shape for me in Wedding Bell Blues. I made Pete the hero, and as I planned the novel I discovered he was a County Attorney in Des Moines. Pete’s character began to develop as a wrote—a protector, the kind of guy who wants to fix everything and make everybody okay. That trait seemed to logically grow out of his role in protecting his younger brothers from the shadowy Erik. It also set him up perfectly to fall for a woman who shared the same trait, Janie Dupree (although they both had to get over their tendency toward self-sacrifice so that they could have a happy ending). Lars got a horrible wife, Sherice, and a cute kid, Daisy. Fortunately, he got to shed the former by the end of the book.
But as I worked on the book, I began to feel something was missing, and after a while I figured out what it was: Erik. Brother number four needed to appear, even though the other three brothers all disliked him. I gave Erik a small part that seemed to keep getting bigger. And finally I turned him loose on both villains: Janie’s former boyfriend, Otto, and Lars’s nightmare wife, Sherice. Erik flattened the first and talked the second out of ruining Cal’s wedding. Turned out he wasn’t such a nightmare guy, after all.
In Be My Baby, I moved all the Toleffson brothers to Konigsburg. It was a little tough, because I’d already made Lars an accountant, and I didn’t know of any other romances with an accountant hero. Nonetheless, Lars came through for me, proving that a hero can have any occupation, as long as he’s the heroic type. I also began to enlarge on Erik’s character. He had a lot to prove to his brothers and to himself, but he was a stand-up guy, helping to capture both the baddies who were trying to kidnap the heroine’s baby. Oh, did I mention he was a cop? When I discovered his occupation in Wedding Bell Blues, it was almost as much of a shock to me as it was to his brothers.
So now it’s time for Erik to have a story of his own, Long Time Gone. In a lot of ways, he was the toughest of the Toleffsons to write about. The other three are all good guys, and I liked knowing them. They’d never done anything wrong, and they weren’t going to do anything wrong in the stories I put together for them, although Lars had to skate close to the edge of the law to save Jess. Erik, on the other hand, had done a lot of things wrong. He was a reformed bully, a reformed petty criminal, a cop with a past. He also wrestles with a violent streak he refers to as “Mr. Hyde.” He deals with all these problems by being the most controlled of the four brothers, a man who holds himself in check and hides his emotions as much as he can. Of course, nobody can control Mr. Hyde all the time, and Erik has to deal with some consequences, but this is Konigsburg, where the good guys get to win. Long Time Gone will be released next Tuesday (July 6) by Samhain Publishing.
So are there any stories left to tell in Konigsburg now that the Toleffson brothers have been taken care of? I hope so. I think Tom Ames, who owns the Faro tavern, might have a few tricks up his sleeve. And Erik’s right-hand man, Nando Avrogado, probably has a tale or two, particularly with Kit Maldonado, Allie’s niece. I hope I can keep coming back to Konigsburg from time to time, and I hope readers will come with me. Until then, enjoy the Toleffson boys. I sure have!
Now, here's the bonus: if you comment today, I'll enter you in a drawing for a copy of Long Time Gone when it releases next Tuesday. Let the comments begin!