The death of a close friend. It’s no secret that writers write best when they write about what they know, and I often begin the process of creating a character with a real person in mind. As I develop my characters further, of course, they eventually move away from the model and take on lives of their own, but their genesis is invariably my relationship with an actual person. This was definitely true of Frank Colville in The First Stone, whom I modeled after one of my closest friends, Frank Pecora. Like Frank in the novel, Frank Pecora once worked with youths in the penal system, and he later became a teacher whose caring nature and commitment to social justice not only guided his professional experience but were hallmarks of his personal life, too. For instance, many years after his own sons were grown, he chose to become a Big Brother to a local boy whose father was killed in a tragic accident, just one example of how Frank made a difference every moment he lived. When Frank passed away, I delivered the eulogy at his funeral—one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. That experience resonated with me long afterwards until I began to wonder what Reef might say if Frank Colville died and he were to speak at his friend’s funeral. I was working on another novel at the time and, when I finally finished it, I found myself writing that funeral scene, which occurs more than two years after the event on the overpass in The First Stone. I stood beside Reef in the pulpit, listened as he described the extent of his loss, watched as he struggled to find words that would adequately sum up a person whose impact he would feel forever. It was both the easiest and toughest scene I’d ever written and, once I finished it, I realized Reef had more to tell me, more to show me. The rest of the novel unfolded pretty much on its own—in fact, I’ve never written a novel so fast. I hope I haven’t disappointed readers who have their own ideas about what happened after The First Stone ended. For me, it’s been a joy returning to characters I’ve loved, so it appears I’m a “sequel kind of guy” after all.