Broken Steel by Stuart Field
After ten years in prison for his wife’s murder, Brian Armstrong is free.
When a freak accident with the prison transport gives him and two others an opportunity to escape, they seize it. With revenge in his heart, Brian disappears into the storm-filled city. After an ex-schoolteacher is found dead, Detective John Steel is brought in to investigate.
The circumstances are mysterious – just the way Steel likes it. His partner Samantha McCall is convinced the timing between the escape and the death of the teacher are more than coincidence. As they start to investigate, the case becomes more complex than they could have ever imagined. With time running out, can they find the killer and bring him to justice?
Hello, and welcome to Beyond the Story Character Interviews. Today I have two special guests from the novel Broken Steel by Stuart Field. Let’s get to know our guests, shall we?
SJJ: Can you please tell us your full names and where you live?
JS: Hi, My Name is John Steel, I’m originally from the UK, but due to my involvement with the NYPD, I live in an apartment in Manhatten.
SM: You mean a penthouse on Park Avenue and involvement? What friggin involvement. You spend most of you’re time disappearin into shadows and makin my life friggin a misery. Sorry. I’m Detective Samantha McCall, and I have a shoebox Near the Village New York City.
JS: A shoebox – it’s a loft, you live in a beautiful old building.
SM: You, like so much Mr Steel, how about we swap?
SJJ: Ahem, OK, so moving on to my next question. So, this question is for you John. How would you describe your personality?
JS: I would say I was…
SM: I can’t wait to hear this.
JS: I would say, uhm, very…
SM: Here Steel, let me help, you a mysterious motha, the man has more personalities, sometimes happy sometimes sad, always angry. Sometimes he just blanks out so much you think the guy is made from stone. That’s usually the time to leave him alone. But I would say friggin annoying.
JS: Well, I would have gone more down the road of I don’t like showing my feelings much, but I guess what you said would work… apart from the annoying. You love me, really.
SJJ: Am I wrong or do I sense a little tension here? Never mind. Next question has two parts and is for both of you. What do you do for a living? And what is your dream job?
SM: I’m a homicide detective at the 11th precinct in the best city in the world and my dream job? I’m already doin it. Although Captain would be cool, I could get rid of this jackass then. (she laughs)
JS: I’m attached to the NYPD from Scotland Yard, it was meant to be a one-time thing, but things had escalated since then.
SM: Escalated? Seriously, you’ve blown up a cargo ship and a cruise liner – and don’t forget my car.
JS: Anyway… dream job? To be honest, I’m not sure.
SM: How about… playboy billionaire, Lord of the Manor?
JS: JS says nothing. Just smiles weirdly and shrugs.
SJJ: You know, I was going to ask, John, how you managed to blow up Samantha’s car, but I think I’ll just stick to the script.
So, What are the biggest obstacles that are preventing your from achieving your goals? Samantha, you first.
SM: Wow, uhm…him really. (she points towards JS and winks). But seriously, I overcome most of my obstacles, so they aint much of a problem. If I set my mind to something, I do it.
JS: I think obstacles are there to better us, make us think harder, so we achieve our final goal. Adapt, overcome, conquer.
SM: Yeah, he mostly kills them or blows stuff up, he’s good at that – like my car, for instance.
JS: I’ll buy you a soddin new one, don’t worry about it.
SJJ: Maybe I should ask about the car. (Smiles) Ahem, okay, moving on. Tell us something about you that not everyone knows.
SM: I hate him… Oh, wait, sorry, everyone knows that.
??: Not true, she’s totally in love with his fine British ass (a woman’s voice can be heard from the breakroom)
SJJ: Who was that?
SM: Oh, that, nobody… A dead woman. (she blushes and makes hand gestures not suitable to describe in this interview)
JS: After my family was murdered several years ago, I went into solitude in Alaska, hoping to hide away from the world.
SM: (says nothing at first, just looks at him with sad eyes.) Uhm… wow. I didn’t… I mean…
JS: It’s okay. And you were about to say… apart from the hate thing?
SM: What… oh, yeah, McCall is my mother’s name, my father forced me to take it so I wouldn’t be in his shadow when I joined the force.
SJJ: I’m so sorry, John, I had no idea. So tragic. I think I can guess what your answer will be, John, to my next question.
Are there any defining moments in your life that made you who you are today?
JS: I’d say the mu… death of my family. It gave me…perspective, a purpose.
SM: Possibly the murder of my dad. He was killed on duty. It made me angry for a long time that the person responsible was never found. It…I don’t know like Steel said…gave me perspective, a purpose. I guess we hear the dead speak and we help them to find justice. Peace.
SJJ: Oh, Samantha. I am so sorry. Do either of you have any regrets?
JS: Yes, not being there for my family when they needed me. But some might say if I had been there sooner, I’d be dead too. But, in a way…I did die that day. A piece of me did anyway. What piece? Oh, …my soul. A friend said I had been reborn, didn’t feel like it, but hey, a second chance, I guess.
(An awkward silence)
SM: Yeah, thanks for that, Mr happy. Regrets, I would say…. working with this guy would be top of my list…yeah. Pretty much that.
??: Stop lyin girl, you want that British ass. (the strange woman from the breakroom again)
SJJ: Sorry, who is that?
SM: That was…Doctor Tina Franks, our Medical examiner… my EX-best friend.
SJJ: (Scribbling on her notepad to speak to the ME later.) Is there anyone you look up to, consider to be a mentor, either in the past or right now?
SM: My dad. He was great. He’d come home, and we’d sit on the porch and drink beer, talk about cop stuff.
SJJ: When you were in the academy or the force?
SM: Nah, I think I was about…ten, twelve. He used to teach me stuff. How to shoot, take someone down…. huh, come to think about it, I never got bullied at school. I guess right now, my Captain, Captain Alan Brant.
JS: I always looked up to my dad for a long time, but when he died an old friend took me in, showed me the way if you like. In the army – the British army, that is. I had an instructor, a sergeant. He took a shine to me, probably because I didn’t take any crap off anyone, found out later he’d had a chat with some friends of his and got me …shall we call it an interview.
SJJ: When you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?
SM: Probably, my graduation from the academy. My dad’s face was… wow. He was so proud of me. But also, when I made detective, I remember going to my father’s grave to tell him. I always do that, share a moment with him. We have a couple of beers on his birthday. Well, I do, I just pour his on the headstone.
JS: Probably seeing my dad’s face when I got married, and again when we told him… he was going to be a grandfather.
(An awkward silence followed by muffled sobbing.)
SJJ: Samantha, John, what’s your idea of the perfect day?
SM: When he isn’t around. But then… no, scrub that if he’s nowhere near, he could be getting up to all sorts of crap. Uhm, perfect day. The weekend at my mom’s in Boston. Yeah, that’s just great. We do barbecues or bake pies, or just sit and chat. It’s great.
JS: Catching one of the arseholes who work for the organisation who killed my family and making him tell me where his boss is.
SM: Uhm, don’t laugh… he’s actually serious. I don’t know, he probably misses fish and chips or something, or scones.
JS: You know, I do miss a decent chippy. But then there’s this sports bar near times square. Excellent bloody fish and chips.
SJJ: (coughs politely)
SJJ: What are your strengths? Your weaknesses?
JS: Your tenacity, it’s one of the reasons I found you compelling as a partner. You just see something, and you won’t stop.
SM: …Uhm, wow, thanks Steel, that’s very sweet of you.
TF: I told you, girl, gets some of that.
SM: Can we… gag her or something?
SJJ:(Scribbles again most definitely speaking to ME. Bring wine.)
SM: Yeah, strengths… I guess Steel is right I am kind of bullhead like that. It’s probably my weakness as well. Sometimes you just need to let something go, even if you don’t want too.
JS: I do like my coffee and a good vodka martini with two shots of gin. That’s my weakness. Also, my colleagues, I prefer to work alone because you have nobody to look out for. Anyone who can be used against you. I think overly protective is one of mine. But everyone here hates me, so there is no problem there.
(John laughs and is smacked by Samantha on the shoulder.)
SJJ: OK, so let’s lighten things up here. What do you do for fun?
SM: Firing range, old movies, hanging out with my ex-friend Tina.
JS: Shooting range, assault course, tracking down bad guys….
SM: Oh, Steel, don’t forget Gala diners, pretty women. Jet-setting around the world. Pretty women.
JS: (oddly silent)
SJJ: Well this should be interesting. Since you both like shooting for fun, what do you do to relax?
SM: I watch old movies with a glass of red, laze about in my pyjamas.
JS: Same as the last question really, I don’t really relax much. I like to sit in cafes and watch the world go by or go for a run.
SM: You don’t say… I’m shocked. You relax. Man, you are wound tighter than a…. wound thing. The café thing and the jogging that is called surveillance, not relaxing.
JS: It relaxes me.
TF: I know what will relax him…. (sound of a door slamming quickly).
SJJ: I guess your friend won’t be bothering us anymore. Ah, so what are your plans for the future?
SM: Make Captain. That’s it so far.
JS: Capture the people responsible for my family’s murder and rip out their livers. Probably get that fish and chips from the sports bar later. But then their shepherd’s pie is also brilliant. Could get both, I guess?
SJJ: So, here’s a fun question. If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
JS: Wow. Hum, not sure.
TF: Henry Cavill, he’s also a fine piece of British… (door slams again)
SJJ: I guess we didn’t hear the last of her.
SM: Uhm… I don’t know. Hadn’t really thought about it. I kinda like Lyndsy Fonseca, she’s kinda badass.
SJJ: And my final question: are you happy with the way your story was told?
SM: Yeah, the third person works really well with this.
JS: What.. I’m sorry. Just had a call from the mayor, got to attend some damned benefit tonight.
SM: Seriously, no causing any problems tonight, no jumping off roofs or car chases, or burning buildings, nothing. Asshole… oops, sorry. Were we done? Will that get edited out?
SJJ: Well, I would like to thank both of you for being here today. This has been a rather, uhm, interesting interview. Thank you!
Stuart Field was born in Wellington. He joined the Royal Horse Artillery at the age of seventeen in 1988 and went on to serve in Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo and the Gulf. Stuart retired from the army in 2010 and took a security job in Germany, where he still lives and works. Stuart decided to try his hand at writing.
Despite his time in the army, Stuart says that there are “absolutely no similarities” between his life and the life of his main character, John Steel.
The knowledge and experience gained through a long military career do go towards the credibility of the novels, though.
He has published several other John Steel books;
Steel and Shadows
And due out in August is; Blood and Steel.