Way back in the 1970s, an author named Carolyn Weston penned the novel POOR, POOR OPHELIA. That book was the basis for the hit television show, The Streets of San Francisco. I loved that show, and so when Brash Books asked if I’d be interested in continuing the late Weston’s series, I jumped at the chance.
Besides, how hard could it be? I thought. Well… A lot has changed since the 1970s, especially police work. But I was up to the challenge, so I read the three Weston novels and made the startling realization that they were very different from the TV show that I remembered. Or rather Weston’s cops, Al Krug and Casey Kellog, were different from my memory of the TV cops portrayed by Karl Malden and Michael Douglas.
What’s a writer to do? I had a choice about leaving these cops in the 70s, but I wasn’t so sure I wanted to write historical fiction. I started as a cop in 1983 and I’m very happy with the progress departments have made over the years. I had no wish to revisit that time period—and so we made the command decision to update the series to modern day.
My personal belief was that Al Krug, the grizzled, older cop Weston wrote as a foil to the younger, college-educated rookie, Kellog, was right for the time period in which he was created. Krug was a kick-ass-take-names-later sort of guy. Unfortunately that wouldn’t fly today, and so I knew I was going to have to temper Krug’s character—to keep him from getting fired—making him more of a mentor to Kellog, but one who was still very much old school.
And then there is the younger Kellog, fresh out of college and still living at home according to Weston’s version. The biggest problem there was that today, Kellog would have to put in at least a decade on the streets before he ever got to homicide, and so I fast-forwarded his time clock, giving him the needed years on the street (and moved him out of his parents’ house!) so that he had the experience to work homicide.
The fun part of the series was melding Weston’s characters with my memories of the television show. I wanted to bring in the best of both worlds. In the end my goal was to write a great police procedural that would pick up where the old books left off, but wouldn’t be out of place in today’s world.
Anyone else out there remember The Streets of San Francisco?
Robin Burcell spent nearly three decades as a police officer, hostage negotiator, criminal investigator, and FBI Academy-trained forensic artist. Her most recent book, THE KILL ORDER, was named one of Library Journal’s Best Thrillers of 2014.
Her upcoming book, THE LAST GOOD PLACE, is a continuation of the Carolyn Weston police procedurals which were the basis for the TV show THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO.
More information can be found on her website at: http://www.robinburcell.com/