Erik Toleffson was just a name in my first Konigsburg book, Venus In Blue Jeans. Cal Toleffson, the hero, mentioned his big brother Erik who’d been a bully to his younger sibs. Frankly, I never intended to do much more with him, sort of like Tom Ames’s criminal brother Burton, who’s mentioned in passing in Brand New Me (note to readers: don’t look for Burton to show up anytime soon, or possibly ever). But when I finished book 2, Wedding Bell Blues, I felt like something was missing. I’d gotten two more Toleffson brothers on board, Pete (the hero) and Lars, but the story just didn’t seem complete. I realized then that I was missing Erik.
So he came to the wedding, although his brothers really didn’t want him there. At first, I just wanted him to make an appearance, the Big Brother From Hell trying to make amends. But he kept doing things—rescuing Janie Dupree from her ex-boyfriend, talking Lars’s nightmare of a wife out of ruining Cal’s wedding reception. It turned out he was a character who had a lot more layers than I’d originally thought.
It was only natural that Erik played a more important part in Be My Baby. I’d decided to make him a cop at the end of Wedding Bell Blues, and a cop was badly needed in Be My Baby, given all the nefarious doings in town (including an attempted kidnapping and a dangerously psycho mother-in-law). He’s sort of an assistant hero in the novel, although Lars is the man with the plan and the happy ending.
So then it was time for Erik to have his own book: Long Time Gone. By now, I had a good idea of the kind of man he was. I knew he’d been a real bastard in the past and that he needed to make up for it. I knew he wanted the respect of his brothers, but he wasn’t sure he’d ever deserve it. I knew he was a man with demons to conquer and that the book would have to let him confront them. Erik is the chief of police, but he may not be able to hold onto the job. He falls in love with a wonderful girl, but he may not be able to hold onto her either. Of all my heroes, Erik is the most complex. But he’s also the most deserving of a happy ending. I hope you’ll give him a try.
Here’s the blurb for Long Time Gone, now available in print:
Konigsburg, Book 4
Erik Toleffson wasn’t looking to become Chief of Police. He’s got enough trouble trying to rebuild his relationship with this three brothers who, until just recently, ran the other way when he approached. He’s not the bully they grew up with, but bad memories are tough to overcome.
Morgan Barrett is as worn out as a vat full of crushed grape skins. She never planned to run Cedar Creek Winery, but there’s no one else to shoulder the load as her father recovers from an injury. All she needs is a little sleep. Just a five-minute nap in the booth at the Dew Drop Inn…if that guy across the bar would stop staring at her as if putting her head down on the table is a crime.
After Morgan yawns in Erik’s face, there’s nowhere to go but up. With time, though, their relationship warms like a perfectly blended Bordeaux. Until the shady mayor digs into Erik’s past and dredges up information that could drive a permanent wedge between him and his brothers—and sour any chance of a future with Morgan.
Warning: Contains hot sex with mango sherbet, crooked politicians, yuppy bikers, Bored Ducks, and a Maine Coon Cat with attitude