Where Story Ideas Come From: How Story Flows into Daily Challenges, A Core Story Question

Simmering in the background in the architectural world for some time has been the issue of security in building design. Yes, there are guidances (we non-architects might call them “standards”) for security, just as there are for accessibility and, increasingly, sustainability.

But these are often considered a ceiling, not a floor.

When the authorities confront the protagonist of my forthcoming novel, architect Archer Landis, with information that his murdered associate (and lover) was affiliated with the Arab American community, they jump to the conclusion, terrorism. Was she trying to ferret out details on the vulnerabilities of key buildings his firm has designed? Was she going to turn sensitive information over to the bad guys? They say yes, but he’s sure they’re wrong.

As a conscientious businessman, he has to do more than bluster about this. He is angry, but how can he turn the situation around? For many buildings—especially ones like embassies and government structures, military facilities, transportation hubs, stadiums and other places where many people congregate—a balance is needed between security and openness. Countries don’t want their embassies looking like fortresses, littered with clunky bollards. A new building’s design has to include features that not only help thwart any attack, but also make the structure a less attractive target in the first place. There’s psychology involved.

Without inserting an essay on this balancing act into the novel, I had to find ways to talk about these real-world concerns in what I hope is an interesting way. Certainly, they are uppermost in Landis’s mind once the attacks on him, his family, and his business begin. All this is part of making him seem to readers like a real person, with real-world concerns.Architect of Courage is coming from Black Opal Books on June 4.

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