Wednesday, July 1, 2009

guest author: alex bledsoe

Yesterday, I mentioned I was happy about this book. So here it is:

The Sword-Edged Blonde
by Alex Bledsoe

A princess is missing, and typically a king would be willing to pay in gold for her return. But before he realises it, sword jockey Eddie LaCrosse is swept up in a web of mystery and deceit involving a brutally murdered royal heir, a queen accused of an unspeakable crime, and the tragic past he thought he'd left behind.

In order to uncover the answers he seeks, Eddie must delve into the dark underbelly of society while digging deep into his own private history, drawing past and present together. Vast conspiracies, women both beautiful and deadly, and a centuries-old revenge scheme are only a few of the pieces in a lethal puzzle.

A starred review from Publishers Weekly: "Bledsoe's genre-bending first novel is both stylish and self-assured: Raymond Chandler meets Raymond E. Feist."

Alex's website is
here, and his blog is here. You can look at the book on Amazon here.

Full disclosure: Alex and I have the same agent. So it's kinda my job to read his book :) but it's not my job to like it so much. 

The hero, Eddie, is a fantasy private detective. And no, I don't mean an urban fantasy private detective. This is old-school fantasy, with all the boring bits left out. Mysterious murders, evil dwarves, vengeful goddesses and lashings of hot swashbuckling. 

How cool is that?

The Sword-Edged Blonde reminded me of The Lies of Locke Lamora, but more character-focused.

So without further gushi
ng, please welcome Alex Bledsoe, author of The Sword-Edged Blonde, released today from Tor. Yay!

The Friends of Eddie LaCrosse
by Alex Bledsoe

I created Eddie LaCrosse, the protagonist of The Sword-Edged Blonde, more years ago than I like to think about. He was the hero of a story I wrote while a high school senior to impress the new, young, sexy teacher; of course, I never found the nerve to actually show it to her. Back then he was known as "Devareaux LaCrosse," for no good reason that I can recall. But even in that earliest draft he was a "have sword, will travel" kind of guy and he crossed paths with a femme fatale named Rhiannon.

Over the intervening years, he developed into his final version thanks to my own reading tastes. And despite the fact that the novel is undeniably high fantasy, the influences on the main character came from an entirely different genre.

Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, the original smart-ass detective, was a huge influence. Marlowe had a quip for all occasions, even if he sometimes kept them to himself. He also had a rigid moral code that helped him navigate the ambiguous mean streets he prowled. While Bogart was the definitive film Marlowe in The Big Sleep, the one most like Eddie was played by Elliot Gould in Robert Altman's film version of The Long Goodbye. This Marlowe's refrain is, "It's okay with me" -- until it's not.

Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer was a more human and connected version of Marlowe. He lacked the wit, but he made up for it in his ability to ferret out the emotional reasons people did horrible things. That skill -- to quickly and accurately judge people -- is probably the quality of Archer, and Eddie, that I envy most. And unlike the other characters on this list, Archer also tried and failed to have a normal life. Eddie, in his young adulthood, went through a similar experience.

Andrew Vachss' Burke gave me the idea of having a dark period in Eddie's past where he did questionable things before acknowledging his own conscience. Burke, a product of foster homes and state institutions, spent time as a mercenary and compensated for his lack of biological family by connecting with a group of similarly isolated outcasts he knew he could trust. Eddie had a similar dark period, and he's also slowly built up a network of people he trusts, even if no one else does. His secret goes back to the Archer effect: he is able to understand why people do what they do.

And finally, the biggest influence of all was Robert B. Parker's Spenser. Witty, well-read, tough yet vulnerable, he became my favorite literary character from the moment I finished Pale Kings and Princes. I gave my youngest son the middle name Spenser; I gave Eddie the character’s insistent wit (unlike Philip Marlowe, Spenser hardly ever keeps his ironic comments to himself) and willingness to find the best solutions in the gray area between good and evil. Spenser also isn't a womanizer. He has a steady romantic partner through most of the series. While I don't want to give anything away about future stories, Eddie has also outgrown the need to chase every peasant blouse that passes before him.

When I write about Eddie LaCrosse now, I no longer see these pieces. He's come alive in my imagination, and the longer I work with him, the more he departs from his influences. But these sources can't be denied, and I would never try. Instead, if you find you like Eddie in The Sword-Edged Blonde, I'd point you toward the characters listed above. They each have their own worlds, but you'll find traces of them in Eddie's.


  1. I just had an occasion to recommend THE SWORD-EDGED BLONDE today! And it's definitely going to be on my shopping list this weekend, since my original was a library copy. Perhaps a reread is in order!
    Still looking forward to Burn Me Deadly, too!

  2. Oh, yes, would like to read more of Eddie's adventures. There's an excerpt from Burn Me Deadly in the back of my copy. Looks intriguing :)