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Debra Webb | Playing Dirty

May 22, 2011

Debra WebbDIRTYAccording to the dictionary to play dirty means to play hardball, to break the rules, or to play rough. Jackie Mercer knows how to play dirty when necessary. She is one heck of a woman and I loved, loved writing her first story. Jackie is the protagonist of my new PI series. This series marks two new steps for me. One, Jackie Mercer is a major change from my long-running Colby Agency series (book 44 came out this month!). My first goal with Jackie was to create a character who had real life challenges, like being forty-five years old and running a business traditionally dominated by men. She’s a single mother with a son in law school. She’s an only child with an aging mother to see after. She worries about her weight and ever finding love again. Oh, and let’s not forget paying the bills! She’s a real woman who has real problems and I adore the way she charged onto the page all sassy and clever and determined. Of course it was absolutely necessary to give Jackie the extra challenge of sheer temptation in the form of Derrick Dawson. Dawson is a former NYPD detective who applies for the position of investigator at the Mercer Agency. As desperately as she needs the help, Jackie knows that hiring Dawson will be a mistake. In her words, he is simply too damned good-looking, too sexy, too young.  Basically trouble with a capital T. When asked his age, Dawson’s shameless reply is that age is irrelevant. You see the kind of trouble every square inch of the man represents? Dawson is my all-time favorite male character. I adore him and the utter challenge he represents just being in the same room with Jackie. Here’s a clip from their relationship:

“You are this close–” I held my thumb and forefinger about a millimeter a part right in Dawson’s face “–to being out of here, buster.”

Unbelievably, the warning didn’t faze my new partner.  In fact, he had the nerve to move closer.  His nostrils flared and every female chromosome in my entire being went ape shit, which only pissed me off all the more.  “That’s what you said.  That night was about sex, not talking.  No information exchange, just hot sex, right?”

I was fire-breathing, punch-his-lights-out mad, but even in that wacked zone, I understood that, somehow, for reasons I couldn’t yet comprehend, he was angrier than me.

“I’m going to give you this one, Dawson.”  Mainly on account of Texas being so big on the death penalty that the powers that be had actually put in an express lane for heinous criminals.  Considering what I wanted to do to Dawson right now I’d be at the front of that unpopular line.  “But this ain’t no frigging baseball game.  You won’t get three strikes.”  Fact was, I’d already given him that leeway up front.

“Tell me, Jackie,” he went on as if I’d said nothing at all, “how does it feel to know you were the last one to see him alive besides whoever killed him?  Maybe being with you just put him in the right place at the wrong time.”  He leaned down and flattened his hands on my desk on either side of me, forcing my bottom down onto the edge and still his face was so close to mine I couldn’t take a breath without it coming from his lips.  I almost drew away but refused to surrender that easy.  “Think you were worth it?” he murmured.

Before good sense could stop me I’d grabbed him by the shirt with both hands and lunged to my feet, maintaining the intimate proximity, face to face, but forcing him back and leveling the playing field a couple of notches.  “One thing’s certain, Dawson, you’ll never know.”

Both of us were breathing hard, the air sawing raggedly in and out.  My whole body shook with equal measures anger and awareness.  In spite of those volatile emotions I couldn’t take my eyes off his…felt lost in that churning sea of blue.  His lips trembled making me shudder with some new, indefinable rush of sensations.  In that infinitesimal moment I knew with complete certainty that if he touched me we were both goners.

The second new step this series marks is my first self-published novel. The decision was a big one, made after much deliberation. I am so thrilled to be joining the pioneers of this new frontier. I decided to set up my own publishing company–Pink House Press. There’s a bit of a sentimental story behind the name. I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember but my earliest documented stories (ones I actually have copies of) were written when I was nine. I grew up on a farm in small town Alabama. My mother loved pink so she painted the old farmhouse that color. I dreamed up many stories in that pink house and it seemed the perfect icon for my new endeavor. After months of organizing and a little agonizing, I took the plunge! It’s at once exciting and terrifying. Most of all, it is absolutely liberating! I have wanted to publish Jackie Mercer for a long time. But the powers that be couldn’t place her in a specific marketing niche. The big question was where does this story fit? Women’s fiction? Mystery? Romance? Romantic Suspense? The truth is, Jackie Mercer is a little of all four. She’s a woman with a real life, family and friends. Her challenges and triumphs are distinctly female. Definitely. There is a serious mystery. Yes. There are those life and death, run-for-your-life moments. Check. Supreme sexual tension? Absolutely. A delicious dash of romance? Yes, ma’am! You see the dilemma the marketing folks faced? Well, darling, this is a new world in publishing and Jackie Mercer has burst onto the scene with a kick-butt attitude and one heck of a rollercoaster ride to share. I am so proud of her first reviews!

To celebrate this thrilling new venture DIRTY is now on sale for $2.99! I hope you’ll check it out. Now to the really good part, let’s talk about what you’re looking for in a great story and your experiences with self-published novels (as a writer or reader). Two commenters will win a copy of DIRTY

Debra Webb

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