One of the tricky things about writing an edgy hero is being able to come right up to the line without crossing into true psycho territory.
Detective Paul Chang—who appears in Final Price and my new novel, Legacy of the Dragon—doesn’t just have a dark side. He has an aggressive and powerful persona that seeks to assert itself and assume control in the gravest of situations.
Every year is the year of the dragon for Chang, a Chinese American ex-cop and now private detective—but that’s nothing to celebrate. He endured a difficult childhood torn between traditional Chinese culture and fitting in with his more westernized peers in New York’s Chinatown. His Uncle Tuen taught him to bury his anger and learn to become a prosperous businessman. Chang did his best, but after witnessing the brutal handiwork of a Tong assassin when Tuen refused to pay extortion money, he was never the same.
The ball of anger inside Chang became an egg that gave rise to the dragon, a vindictive alter ego whose impact on his life is anything but metaphorical. He turned to a career in law enforcement, but the dragon seeks a more pure form of justice. In order to coexist with the dragon without succumbing to madness, Chang slakes its thirst for vengeance from time to time by giving it influence over his body.
The detective struggles to rein in the dragon rather than try to eradicate it. When he feels stressed or threatened, Chang finds the dragon ready and eager to expand his senses, sharpen his reflexes, and pour strength into his muscles. Much as he hates to admit it, he needs the release.
Unlike the tools and weapons Chang has mastered, the dragon refuses to be tamed. The detective relies on his alter ego, and he also relishes the rough justice it can dispense. Likewise, the dragon depends on Chang’s boundaries to prevent it from driving them both to destruction.
The combination of man and dragon makes Chang an intense investigator, a loyal friend, and a terrible foe. It also makes him one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever created. It was well worth the effort to capture his true essence: a man who searches constantly for his place in the world and ways to protect those who deserve to stay safe.