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Anne Louise Bannon on 40 Years With the Same Characters

Anne Louise Bannon is the author of the Old Los Angeles series, the Operation Quickline series, and the Freddie and Kathy 1920s series. You can find out more about her at her website, or by clicking here, see her last post here, and find her books here.

My friends tell me that one of the things I should be proud of as a writer is that I’m prolific. And I’m always afraid that me being prolific is discouraging to my other writing friends. The reason I’m prolific is probably because of my background as a journalist. Daily, or even weekly deadlines do not give the dreaded Writer’s Block a chance. So, I’m used to cranking words out. But there’s another reason I have an extensive backlist. I’ve been writing fiction for a very long time.

From That Old Cloak and Dagger Routine

I haven’t published all of it. Frankly, a lot of it needs rewriting. I am putting out more books than most folks, though, and it’s because years ago, I wrote a bunch of novels. In particular, starting forty years ago this month, I first started a series of books featuring Lisa Wycherly and Sid Hackbirn. Lisa was a nice girl – church-going and saving herself for marriage. Sid… Well, he was anything but – an atheist who slept around because, having been raised among a bunch of bohemians, beatniks, and hippies, sex was what you did.

Sid was also a top-secret counter-espionage agent who needed a partner for his business. The initial book, That Old Cloak and Dagger Routine, was supposed to be a spy thriller. But then, two things happened. One, I discovered I’m really not that interested in or that good at spy thrillers. Two, I got more interested in the characters than I did in the spy business. Sid and Lisa came to life that September of 1982, and kept talking to me, and three years later, I’d cranked out twelve short novels and one collection of short episodes – one of which is in our Blackbirds Anthology, Taking Flight.

The novels have been re-written, multiple times. I’m a much better writer now than I was. As for publishing them, I’m featuring them on my blog in serial form – something I’ve been doing since the early 20-teens, at least. As for the 40 years, well, I’m having fun with it. That’s a lot of years for characters to be inhabiting my head. I may as well celebrate it. In fact, Sid’s voice has been showing up more and more in the books, so I thought I’d let him reflect on how he met Lisa, and basically re-wrote the first scene of That Old Cloak and Dagger Routine from his perspective forty years later. It was a fun exercise and went live on my personal blog over the weekend.

As Lisa and Sid not only grew on me, they grew as characters, and the series is not only growing again, it’s morphing. The fact that Quickline dies is in the prologue of the very first book. But Sid and Lisa get new jobs eventually, and you’ll see that when we get through the 1980s. That hasn’t changed. I left the series set in the time I originally wrote it because, well, Sid couldn’t believably sleep around today like he did originally. What has changed is me, and as a result, so did Lisa and Sid. And that’s something to celebrate.

Anne Louise Bannon

Anne Louise Bannon is the author of the Freddie and Kathy mystery series, set in the 1920s, the Operation Quickline Series and the Old Los Angeles series, set in the 1870s. You can find out more about her on her website,, or follow her on Twitter, or Facebook.

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. Laurie Buchanan
    Laurie Buchanan

    Anne — I think it’s cool that while your characters have morphed, the timeframe remains the 1980s!

    1. Anne Louise Bannon
      Anne Louise Bannon

      Thanks. It also made getting some of the details and language right a lot easier.

  2. gpgottlieb

    Can’t wait for the movie version to come out!

  3. Christine DeSmet
    Christine DeSmet

    Such fun reading this blog post, Anne, because your love of writing comes through so well. Congratulations on your many achievements!

  4. Avatar

    Thanks for reaffirming the truism that fictional characters are as real as the authors who create them.

  5. Sheila Lowe
    Sheila Lowe

    Isn’t that the great thing about writing fiction–you can do whatever you want!

  6. Sherrill Joseph
    Sherrill Joseph

    Longstanding characters, like long-time friends, are often the best. I’m already feeling that with my four detectives. Congratulations!

    1. Avatar
      Avanti Centrae

      Those must be some VERY well-developed characters after 40 yeats!

      1. Anne Louise Bannon
        Anne Louise Bannon

        Avanti… Let’s not go there. I’m in a Sid kinda mind – and his is really dirty.

  7. Avatar
    Laurie’s Story

    I wonder how much Sid and Lisa are you? And have you gotten to know things about yourself better as you’ve gotten to know them?

    1. Anne Louise Bannon
      Anne Louise Bannon

      Lisa is probably the character who is most like me, or at least, as I was then. Nonetheless, the reason Sid is nearsighted and wears contacts is because I am and did for a lot of years.

  8. Margaret Mizushima
    Margaret Mizushima

    Wow! Sid and Lisa really grabbed ahold of you and wouldn’t let go. Sounds like great characters and a fun read. I’ll have to check it out! Thanks, Anne Louise!

  9. Tim Chapman
    Tim Chapman

    “Forty years of fighting with each other, loving each other, and just being who we are. I couldn’t have asked for a greater gift.” –Sid
    Sounds like Sid feels the same way you do. ;^)

  10. Tracey S. Phillips
    Tracey S. Phillips

    Anne, that’s really cool! I don’t think I could keep something going for that long. Knowing me, I’d need a change long before my characters do.

      1. Tracey S. Phillips
        Tracey S. Phillips

        Of course! And I bet you keep things interesting between those two. A lot can happen in 40 years!

  11. Avatar
    Donna Rewolinski

    I love that your characters have grown as people and friendships do.

  12. Sharon Lynn
    Sharon Lynn

    I mentioned this in our last interview, but I thought it was “historical” because it starts in 1982. I love that you started it in 1982 and just kept going! Great characters – Sid and Lisa are so much fun to hang out with.

  13. Anne Louise Bannon
    Anne Louise Bannon

    I hate calling Operation Quickline a historical series – I’m not history. Yet. 😉

  14. joyribar

    Congratulations on 40 years! I’m inspired by your fortitude and willingness to keep those characters alive and evolving. How great is that!

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