One of my desert island books is In the Woods by Tana French. Sometimes I wake in the night and think of writing, and find myself lost in the memory of this passage; the rush of reading something I believed to my core but had never heard anyone say before. Which for me is one of the most powerful things that writers do.
…but above all that, and underlying everything we did, she was my partner. I don’t know how to tell you what that word, even now, does to me; what it means. I could tell you about going room by room, guns two-handed at arms’s length, through silent houses where a suspect could be armed and waiting behind any door; or about long nights on surveillance, sitting in a dark car drinking black coffee from a thermos and trying to play gin rummy by the light of a streetlamp. Once we chased two hit-and-run joyriders through their own territory — graffiti and rubbish-dump wastelands whipping past the windows, sixty miles per hour, seventy, I floored it and stopped looking at the speedometer — until they spun into a wall, and then we held the sobbing fifteen-year-old driver between us, promising him that his mother and the ambulance would be there soon, while he died our arms. In a notorious block tower that would redraw the outlines of your image of humanity, a junkie pulled a syringe on me — we weren’t even interested in him, it was his brother we were after, and the conversation had seemed to be proceeding along normal lines until his hand moved too fast and suddenly there was a needle against my throat. While I stood frozen and sweating and praying wildly that neither of us would sneeze, Cassie sat down cross-legged on the reeking carpet, offered the guy a cigarette and talked to him for an hour and twenty minutes (in the course of which he demanded, variously, our wallets, a car, a fix, a Sprite and to be left alone); talked to him so matter of factly and with such frank interest that finally he dropped the syringe and slid down the wall to sit across from her, and he was starting to tell her his life story when I got my hands under control enough the slap the cuffs on him.
The girls I dream of are the gentle ones, wistful by high windows or singing sweet old songs at a piano, long hair drifting, tender as apple blossom. But a girl who goes into battle beside you and keeps your back is a different thing, a thing to make you shiver. Think of the first time you slept with someone, or the first time you fell in love: that blinking explosion that left you crackling to the fingertips with electricity, initiated and transformed. I tell you that was nothing, nothing at all, beside the power of putting your lives, simply and daily, into each other’s hands.
— Tana French, In the Woods