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If you’ve ever wondered where Harvey “Ben” Bennett came from, this post is for you!

I’m often asked how I came up with the character of Harvey Bennet — how he got his nickname (Ben), and what makes him tick. If you’ve read the Harvey Bennett Mysteries series, then you know more about him than most people.

Still, how did he come to be? What does he really look like?

To answer these questions, I (Nick Thacker) sat down and interviewed myself about Harvey. I’m writing this in a question-answer format so it’s easy to read and skip around.

As always, if there’s something missing, or you want more detail, just leave a comment

Q: How did you come up with the idea of Harvey Bennett?

A: Harvey was the product of wanting to write a character who was similar in many ways to well-known action-hero characters like Robert Langdon, Jack Reacher, and Jack Ryan, with one major difference:

I wanted to see what that character was like before they were they the’d become their “perfect” selves. I wanted the imperfect, unassuming “everyman” character to morph, over time, into a hero we could all root for.

I tried to make Harvey as “normal” as possible — he’s not a martial arts expert, marksman, or computer genius. He’s intelligent, but it’s a totally normal, approachable sort of intelligence. He’s strong, but it’s not Mr. Universe strength.

Harvey, to me, seemed to be a reclusive, loner-type guy, so (in The Enigma Strain I put him in a national park (Yellowstone) to see how he’d react to a major terrorist attack. I knew he was a “good guy,” but I wanted to see how he’d respond to being forced to take action rather than run away from it.

Q: What about Julie? Where did she come from?

Well, when I write a new book I always said hey specific goal for myself. With my first book, I wanted to figure out how to write well enough to tell a fun story. My second, I wanted to figure out how to write a female mother as the protagonist.

For The Enigma Strain, I gave myself the challenge of writing the story with two main characters — Harvey and Julie — and playing around with the beginnings of a romance.

Julie needed to be everything Harvey was not — witty, sarcastic, and brainy. She’s a computer pro, and a “nerd” in the best sense of the word. She’s also physically small, but driven and stubborn.