Behind the Books | Striking Distance: A Kira Brightwell Short Story

[Original version of Striking Distance]

Whenever I start writing a new character or series, an origin story starts to grow in my mind as the character starts to flesh out, to explain aspects of their personality, skill set, reactions to particular situations, etc. When I decided to start writing this self-made, reluctant problem-solver for hire, Kira Brightwell, in her first novel, Split Decision, I knew I had a couple of big questions to answer.

Why would anyone think to hire Kira–a young woman with no formal training or police connections–to help with an abduction case? Why would Kira be motivated to take a lead role in that kind of situation?

Yes, by the start of Split Decision, Kira has spent three years training in MMA. So that makes her a badass, but hardly a crime expert.

…But what if she had a personal experience involving abduction? What if that event revealed skills and tenacity Kira never fully realized she had, and shaped her life going forward in ways she could never imagine?

All of these thoughts came together to form a cohesive back story in my mind, which is alluded to in Split Decision. But I decided it would be interesting to actually write Kira’s origin story to explore how she became the person she is today.

This was a bit tricky, since the events of “Striking Distance” are what drive her to study MMA, so she has no real fighting skills at the time of this story. She has to rely on her wits (and guts) to keep her safe.

She is also, for the most part, alone. (Rob makes a cameo appearance, but Kira doesn’t have him or Trevor to play off of like she usually does.) This makes “Striking Distance” more tense and suspenseful once things get rolling, since we’re up close with Kira in a dark situation, with no opportunity for banter from her usual sidekicks.

Generally, I like to write a dichotomy of tension and banter/dark humor, but every once in awhile, I seem to channel one of these more serious stories, which are fun and challenging to write in their own way. This story was no exception. (But was still glad to get the scene with Rob in there to show a different side of Kira’s personality/humor.)

So who’s Kat Irwin?

I wrote the first several books/stories in this series under the pen name Kat Irwin. This was simply a branding decision I made at the time, to keep my crime fiction and fantasy writing separate and avoid reader confusion. (It was by no means a secret.) ‘Kat’ is short for ‘Katana,’ which was my online alias for years on the Nine Inch Nails fan forum known as The Spiral (RIP), and my husband’s last name is ‘Irwin.’

I’ve recently re-released these titles under my own name (but you might still find a few Kat Irwin versions floating around). Over the past several years, it has become more commonplace for authors to write in various genres under the same name (with the exception of Romance/Erotica), and I seemed to be spending a fair amount of time explaining that I was both Kat Irwin AND Jacquelyn Smith (lol).

At this point, I just make sure my genre branding is really clear and use the same name for everything. This way, it’s easy for readers to see everything I’ve written in a single search/list, and decide for themselves which books/series they want to read.

Get Striking Distance, PLUS an exclusive, bonus epilogue for FREE!

This story is included in the ebook collection Back Story, which you receive as a free gift when you sign up for my newsletter. The version in this collection also includes a bonus epilogue to “Striking Distance” that isn’t available anywhere else. Click here to get your free copy.


**”Striking Distance: A Kira Brightwell Short Story” is the Free Fiction Feature for July 2020. You can read it for free on this site for one month only. This story also comes in ebook and paperback formatboth on its own, and as part of the First Blood Kira Brightwell Collection. You can find “Striking Distance” at your preferred online retailer here, or buy it direct from the author. You can find retailer links to the First Blood Kira Brightwell Collection here, or buy it direct from the author.**

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Posted by Jacquelyn

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