Former Providence Journal reporter Jan Brogan is out with her fourth mystery, Teaser (St. Martin's Minotaur) which continues the adventure of her heroine, Hallie Ahern, a recovering gambling addict who writes for a newspaper called the Providence Chronicle.
A native of Clifton, New Jersey, Brogan had a lot of early access to good material, thanks in part to how her father was a local pol, and how she spent one summer cocktail waitressing at a beach club that attracted some mobsters. The author, who will appear on February 10 at 7 pm at Books On the Square in Providence, now resides in a suburb between Boston and Providence. We communicated via e-mail.
Tell us more about your latest book.
I was inspired to write Teaser, which is about teens and social networking, in part when the two North Smithfield girls who posted naked pictures of themselves on MySpace got charged with child pornography. The charge seemed pretty harsh, but I began to wonder what could happen to these kids if they weren't stopped.
In researching this book, I had help from an undercover detective in Portsmouth New Hampshire, who specialized in ferreting out Internet scum. Boy, was that afternoon an eye-opener. On other criminal elements, I also had help from Providence Police, and Matt Dawson, assistant AG who heads the criminal division.
How did you create your protagonist?
Originally, I created my protagonist as Addy McNeil, but when I changed publishers, I had to change her name to Hallie Ahern. But she is the same character from Final Copy through Yesterday's Fatal. The thing that really annoys me in many mysteries is this unrealistically tough and otherwise perfect female sleuth. It seems to be okay for a male protagonist to have a drinking problem, but the woman sleuth has to be a good girl, with only the most superficial of problems.
I wanted a deeply flawed character because I wanted my protagonist to wrestle with herself as much as wrestle with the outside world. In Final Copy, she's getting over the death of her brother and a consequent sleeping pill addiction. In A Confidential Source, her research takes her into casinos and the allure of gambling. I'm clearly fascinated by addictive personalities. Although I've never been addict, I have had addicts very close to me, and one of the things I noticed is that when really messed up people get straight, they become amazingly successful. And I think it's because they take that compulsive streak that made them an addict and apply it to the goal at hand.