Where did Harvey Stone come from?
The question I'm most often asked, and the question I often struggle to answer. What influenced the characters in the Stone Cold Thriller series?
In these articles, I hope to shed some light on Harvey Stone and the characters that make up the Stone Cold Thriller cast. The articles may answer some questions you had, or they may just provide a little entertainment; a little insight into Harvey's world to add context and flavour to the imaginary world that now runs parallel with my own real world. Yes you read that correct. You might read a Stone Cold story and set the book down with your own thoughts on the story. But every day, I sit at my laptop and am immersed in the Stone Cold world. How messed up must I be?
Harvey's First Steps
When Harvey Stone took his first steps onto paper, he crept into a warehouse in Beckton, East London and watched with awe as his mentor Julios took care of business. From that point onward, Harvey was a mountain shrouded by clouds, emerging piece by piece the further forward I moved, and growing with each awe inspiring step.
'Two men slipped silently through the door of unit twenty-four.'
I had no idea, when I wrote those first words, of what Harvey would become, what he would be like and what would set him apart. That first chapter was written standalone and sat on a file begging to be continued. But I didn't just type 'Chapter 2' and continue with the story; I couldn't, I neededto understand him first. I needed to delve into him and unravel the layers. Chapter was the last chapter to be written in Stone Cold.
Harvey Stone was spawned in a shisha cafe' in Dubai, just me and a friend discussing who he might be. Ideas were tossed up, some fell by the wayside, others stuck and grew, developing into Harvey's layers. It's these layers that make Harvey special in my mind.
On the outside, Harvey is a stone cold killer, born into a life of crime and trained to be the best at what he does. But dig a little deeper and you'll find the second layer tainted with hatred born of his sister's death. which then feeds the next layer that not only seeks retribution but over time begins to enjoy bringing suffering to those who deserve it.
If you met someone at a party or in a bar and they described themselves like I've described Harvey above, you'd probably move on, in fact you'd likely run away very fast. Here's this guy, who is not only trained to kill, but has developed a taste for it, gains satisfaction from killing the right people and enjoys it.
Dig a Little Deeper
So how come many of Harvey's readers adore him? Who adores a serial killer? If you're questioning yourself now, don't, you're not alone. It's the next layers of Harvey that make him unique. It's those layers of humanity, of kindness and empathy that balance out his ruthless capabilities and make him so real.
A man who spent the first thirty years of his life in a hate filled bubble, delivering death and seeking his own flavour of retribution, finds friendship and love and somehow manages to capture the hearts of readers while at the same time retains an incredible, intangible power that lies beneath the surface, ready to pounce.
At the very heart of Harvey Stone, there is good. There's no question of his motives. Combine this good with his stone exterior and savage capabilities and the result is the man who sits beside me every day. He doesn't say much though.
By the time I sat down to write Stone Fall, book three, Harvey was very real. When he jumps from a moving car or slips into the shadows it's isn't me deciding that, Harvey is real enough to be making those decisions by himself.
The further into the series we go (book ten at the time of writing) the easier those decisions become. Harvey has evolved and will continue to evolve. So when you read about Harvey cutting a throat or my favourite, 'Harvey didn't reply,' that's not me, that's Harvey guiding the process.
I hope he becomes as real to you as he is for me.
Okay, so he had to come from somewhere right?
So I wanted to create a character that was different to any other out there. I enjoy reading Jack Reacher, John Milton and many other of the thriller vigilantes, but I wanted something unique and for that to come naturally I needed to write about what I know. I'm not a crime lord, a hit man, nor did I ever belong to a gang, but I did live and work in East London for many years. That warehouse that 'two men slipped silently into...' that was my first job. The cafes, the pubs and the team HQ in Silvertown, all real places with different names.
It was while I was working in London that I met the people that would form the basis of many of the characters in the stories. Men I drank with in pubs who I knew were up to no good, but who wouldn't talk about what they did and I rarely dared to ask, they were the ones to watch for; the serious villains with gold bracelets, fat wallets and fast cars. Men that most men wouldn't dare to nod a hello at; only a select few formed their mysterious circle and even when I got close, I stayed on the perimeter, speaking only when spoken to. That's when I met John Cartwright.
There were also more lighthearted men. Ex-cons who had spent time in prisons and had stories to tell and others who were immersed in a life of crime and would talk freely of their often comical criminal adventures. As a young an impressionable teenager, I soaked up everything they said and laughed myself stupid at their stories.
You can find all these people in the Stone Cold stories in one form or another. There's usually a big villain, serious and smart, and there's usually one or two underlings, these were the comical guys I met who were in and out of prison and filled my evenings with stories of being trapped inside a shop they were robbing until the police found them the next morning, or one guy who whilst serving time, managed to get onto the roof of a prison block and demand pizza and a helicopter. He received neither and was rewarded with a few more months at Her Majesty's pleasure for inciting a riot but came away with a brilliant yet idiotic pub story.
I never met anyone who I could hand on heart say, he is the basis of Harvey Stone. I think that's what makes Harvey so special. the characters and world around him are all a part of my own memories, the men, the places and the humour...
But Harvey, he's home grown. And if he ever came to life, he wouldn't be in a pub shouting his mouth off about a job he did , neither would he be the quiet type planning on having one of his men throw you in the river.
In fact if he was real, you wouldn't even know he was there.
If you're enjoying the Stone Cold Thriller series, leave a comment below, let others know about the series, and look out for the next article featuring the girl who tamed Harvey Stone, Melody Mills.
Thanks for reading.