Introducing Zigic and Ferreira
It’s called the Zigic and Ferreira series in reviews and on the back of each book, but while I’m writing, it is very much the Ferreira and Zigic show.
When I started work on the first book, Long Way Home, I didn’t plot out my lead characters’ arcs, I knew some of their backstories but wanted to discover their depths for myself, along with the reader, as the series progressed. I’d planned a very democratic even-split between my third-generation Serbian-English DI, Dushan Zigic and Portuguese born, 90s arrival DS Mel Ferreira. He was always going to be the ‘head’, a stable family man who approached his job with cool rationality and a quiet voice, who believed talking to people was always better than kicking down doors and tossing around threats. While she would be the raging ‘heart’ of the series, instinctive, mouthy, driven by a burning sense of injustice born out of her own personal experience of being an unwelcome immigrant in a small fenland community.
As the series continued the balance has slowly but surely tipped towards Ferreira. And, if I’m honest, it’s because she is a lot more like me than I should admit. What started out as a small joke for myself about her drinking the same rum that I do, smoking the same liquorice roll-ups and having pretty much my exact wardrobe, developed into a similarity which goes right to the core of her personality. It makes her very easy to write and, occasionally, very tough to rein in.
Ferreira is me with the filter off. If I’d think it, she says it. Within the bounds of the Hate Crimes department she has given voice to my rage about the rise of ultra nationalist political parties, the exploitation of migrant workers, the conflicting sides of the right to die debate and, in the latest book, Watch Her Disappear, the issue of violence against transwomen and how it intersects with homophobia. In fact, Watch Her Disappear’s focus on gender and sexuality has revealed a side of Ferreira I didn’t have any inkling of until I came to write the pivotal scene, with its angrily tearful confession, and it was interesting to find out what underpins her commitment-averse behaviour. Will coming to understand the cause change her ways? I suspect not, but we’ll see.
Zigic remains the steadying influence. It’s not easy for him to shake off the horrors of the job but easier when he has a happy and growing family to go home to and all of the small dramas there to distract him. At least, it is for now. Unfortunately, things are going to get quite dark for Zigic on the home front very soon. Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that his youngest son, Stefan, has been behaving in an increasingly erratic fashion and the arrival of a baby sister is only going to exacerbate the situation. As the stability of his family is gradually eroded I think we’ll see a different side of Zigic emerging. Darker, more reckless, the parts of himself he’s always held in check coming to the fore.
How will they work together if Zigic becomes the unpredictable one? Will Ferreira calm down to balance him out? Will their previously contrasting but complimentary styles lead to a huge personality clash? I can’t wait to find out.