Worrying About Characters

Your characters become very real. You live with them daily for months, even years. It can be hard to leave them. You wonder how their lives are going, especially if you've journeyed with them through multiple books. Although it may sound strange, worrying about your characters isn't a wasted emotion. If you don't care about your characters, how can you expect your readers to care.
So it was in the summer of 2020 with COVID raging and streets filled with protestors demonstrating for Black Lives Matter and conflict over Confederate monuments that I began to worry about my interracial detective team, Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson. Asheville, NC, wasn't immune to the events of the day. I knew something was happening that would involve them.
By chance I came across a story about declassified FBI files detailing threats against Martin Luther King, Jr. during two trips to the Asheville area. Although the threats were credible, no one was ever identified. Who they were remains a mystery, a mystery that in the fictional world could be solved by Sam and Nakayla. That was the story seed.
The seed sprouts when during a protest march, an elderly man is knocked to the pavement by a Confederate sympathizer. Sam and Nakayla rush to his aide. The assailant runs away and the fatally injured man struggles to say, "I'm so sorry, Nakayla. Can you ever forgive me?"
Nakayla has never seen him before. Why does he want her forgiveness?
She learns the man, Henry Nelson, was a retired homicide detective who had investigated her father's death fifteen years earlier. He'd closed the case as a suicide. But when Nelson's widow brings Nakayla the case files her husband stole from police records, she and Sam realize the old man had been reviewing the investigation, evidently questioning his earlier conclusions.
But then the detective's widow is murdered and Sam and Nakayla find themselves confronting a killer who will stop at nothing to keep a crime from the past buried in the past. Their only clue, a declassified FBI file that J. Edgar Hoover kept on Martin Luther King, Jr. A file that detailed threats against the civil rights leader during his trips to Asheville. A file found on the desk of Nakayla's father the night he died. A file that holds the key to the secret that destroyed a family.
I hope readers will join me in worrying about Nakayla, Sam, and The Secret of FBI File 100-3-116.