Many years ago, I wrote a children's story for my son about a boy detective named "Chase Jackson". It was around that time that I started writing notes for what came to be Exposure, so I thought I would be clever and simply reverse the order of his first and last names. (Turns out it wasn't so clever, because it made things rather confusing!)
I am not entirely sure why "Jackson" popped into my head at that time, nor why I wanted to preserve it for a grown-up book series, but it was likely due to the Black-Jackson connection on one side of my family.
As the book evolved (and to be honest, it did just "evolve", since my initial outline only covered what came to be about 10% of the book), little bits of background popped up without warning. Looking back, it seemed they popped up for a reason.
Gary Black, my grandfather, spent a bit of time in the US Army. He's shown here in Sergeant's stripes, but I also have a picture of him with Captain's bars following a WWII battlefield commission.
Jackson Chase spent time as both enlisted and as an officer, too. But he went the opposite direction. When he was sent to basic training in the New Zealand Army, he was punished down to an enlisted rank by his uncle. Only after proving his worth was he able to regain his proper rank as an officer.
Another tie-in to Jackson's background is flying. Van Lear Black, Gary's father, was a patron of early aviation. He financed Byrd's expeditions to the North Pole and Antarctica (hence the name of Mount Black in Antarctica courtesy of Byrd's widow). And he flew some of the longest distance flights of early aviation: Netherlands to Jakarta and back in 1927 (where wild elephants charged the plane in Burma), London to the Cape of Good Hope in 1929, and London to Tokyo to Java in 1930.
Despite surviving plane crashes during his adventures in both Genoa and Dum Dum, India, Van Lear Black actually perished at sea. He fell to his death off the stern of his yacht Sabalo. Despite a four-plane rescue search of the area, only his cap was found.
So, how does "Jackson" connect to "Black"? Through the marriage of Catharine Jackson to Gary Black in 1939. Catharine Jackson was the daughter of Catharine Bond (Jackson) and Richard N. Jackson.
Being a family name that could be used as both a first and last name undoubtedly was the reason Jackson's name came to be.
But it wasn't until recently that I discovered this little book in my grandmother's attic. It was a bit of a surprise to see that my great, great grandfather, Elihu E. Jackson, was once the governor of my home state, Maryland.
Bond, Catharine Bond
What writer in the action and adventure realm can't say they'd love to create a character with the attributes (and longevity) of James Bond? Ok, to be perfectly honest, there is no connection between James Bond and my great grandmother other than sharing the same name.
But in that recent excavation of my grandmother's attic, there was a glimmer of Jackson Chase showing in some of the pictures of Catharine Bond Jackson. I love the image of her standing boldly in a flight suit at Logan Field, and her happiness in that little sailboat.
And finally, Chase
So, how about Jackson's last name, Chase? Well, that goes back to the original children's story I wrote using the character "Chase Jackson". He was named after my writing co-conspirator, my younger son, Chase.