The Inspiration for THE STALKER

Stalker Front CoverI get ideas for my novels from my own life events, or from other people’s stories. The inspiration for The Stalker came from a little bit of both.

It started when an online feud erupted on my Facebook newsfeed. Two artists, who’d once worked together, had a falling out. They’d blocked each other on Facebook, but that didn’t stop the feud. One would post something about the other. Someone else would take a screenshot and send it to the other, and then the mudfest would begin. About the time it settled down the other one would start in, and the cycle would repeat itself. The rest of us got a ringside seat, whether we wanted it or not.

Of course the writer in me saw this as a good premise for novel. I especially liked the idea of the lead character being harassed by someone she’d once worked with, instead of a former lover. (The former lover will be the premise for my next novel, The Letter.)

In The Stalker, Craig, the antagonist, stalks and harasses Rachel, the leading lady. The two are former coworkers. Rachel had once considered Craig a mentor, but he turned on her when she got a promotion he felt she didn’t deserve. Like my other novels, The Stalker twists and turns as the story progresses, taking you, the reader, on yet another roller coaster ride.

The following excerpt is a sneak preview from The Stalker.

Enjoy,

MM

***

Rachel waited until Shane was gone before turning her attention back to the deputy. His nametag identified him as Joseph Gonzalez.

“And so another wonderful evening gets ruined, thanks to Craig Walker.” She let out a disappointed sigh. “I first met Shane, the man who just left, back in high school, but I never really talked to him until tonight, and I could tell something wonderful was about to happen. Then you showed up.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m just doing my job.”

Her tone softened. “I know you are, and I’m sorry for being rude. This really isn’t your fault. You got duped by Craig Walker, just like I did.”

He motioned for her to take a seat in the corner of the lounge. As she settled into her chair, he took a small notepad from his pocket and sat down across from her.

“Okay, Ms. Bennett, can you please tell how you know Mr. Walker?”

“Craig Walker is an ex co-worker who I first met in Reno, Nevada, where we both worked for a magazine.”

“Were you ever romantically involved with him?”

“No.” Her head shook as she spoke. “Mr. Walker and I have never been romantically involved. It was strictly a business relationship.” She went on to describe their talks in the break room, and how he had turned on her after she was promoted to the new art director.

“So,” said Gonzalez, “you said he was reprimanded after this incident. Did the harassment stop after that?”

“He never actually spoke to me after that, but he still gave me the evil eye whenever he saw me. And he always made a point of contradicting me at staff meetings, even when everyone else agreed with me. I probably could have said the sky was blue, and he would have said no, it was green. And then things started getting really scary.”

“What do you mean by scary?”

“I started getting some really nasty emails in my personal account. They came from different senders, but they all had pretty much the same verbiage. I was a hack who didn’t know how to do my job, and the only reason I got my job was because I’d slept with the boss. Changing my password and blocking the senders didn’t seem to help. So, I finally went back to my supervisor, but I was told that unless I could prove Craig was the sender they couldn’t do anything about it. They suggested I open a new email account.”

“Did you?”

“Yes. And after that I made a point of not checking my personal email from my work computer. Later on, I found out someone was using the contact form on the magazine website to complain about me, but management simply ignored it. They knew what was going on; they just didn’t want to get involved. It was about the same time we learned the magazine would be going out of business.”

The deputy went over his notes. “You mentioned something about this not being the first time you had an evening ruined by Mr. Walker. Could you please explain what you meant by that?”

“Back in Reno, it seemed like every time I went out with friends, Craig would be there. If we went to a bar or restaurant, he’d be at another table. If we went to a movie or show, he’d be seated in the auditorium; always giving me a cold, hard stare. It was as if he knew my every move, even though I’d made a point of keeping my private life private. I never discussed any of my plans with co-workers. Then there was Eric.”

“Who was Eric?”

“Eric Hawthorne was someone I was seeing while I was in Reno. It wasn’t anything overly serious, but we enjoyed each other’s company. So one night while we were out having dinner, Craig was brazen enough to approach Eric in the men’s room. He told him what a lying, two-faced bitch I was, and that I was sleeping with the boss, and why was he wasting his time with someone like me when there were so many other women out there who were better? The confrontation apparently didn’t last long, maybe a minute or so at best, but it really made Eric mad, not to mention how embarrassing it was for me.” She sighed. “Eric sent me an email a few days later. He said he was sorry about the problems I was having with Craig, but he wanted to end the relationship. He wished me luck and hoped there’d be no hard feelings. After that, I never heard from him again.” She paused to gather her thoughts. “Once again, I went to my supervisor. She said she was sorry, but since it happened after hours and away from the office, they weren’t going to get involved.”

“I see.” Gonzalez scribbled down more notes. “Is there anything else?”

“Other than the fact that he harassed me via the company email account at my next job, and through social media, I can’t think of a thing.”

“How did he do that?”

“I was working for an advertising agency which, for a time, had the company email directory posted on its website. They eventually took it down, but by then it was too late. Craig had my email address. The harassment started once again, so I had to set up a new email account. He’d also set up social media accounts under different names and send me friendship requests, as well as friendship requests to some of my other online friends. Then, after I’d unknowingly accept the request, he’d post some pretty inflammatory rants about me. I’d report it, but they never seem to do much about it. They just tell you to block them if you find them offensive, as if I hadn’t done that already. I even tried going to the police, but they just don’t seem to take these things too seriously either.”

“Well, Ms. Bennett, I’m sorry you’re going through this. Unfortunately, what you’ve told me would be considered a civil matter, so unless he were to actually harm you, or damage your property, there really isn’t much we can do either, other than take a report. You may want to consider going to court and filing an injunction against harassment.”

She rolled her eyes. “I know. I’ve heard it all before, but I’m afraid taking him to court is much easier said than done. All l can tell you is I’m really losing faith in the system.”

 

THE STALKER is Back from the Editor

Hands at KeyboardMy latest novel has just returned from the editor, and she tells me she loved it. She says it’s one of my best stories to date, and she should know. She’s been my editor since my very first novel, The Reunion.

The Stalker was inspired by a real-life Facebook feud unfolding on my newsfeed. Of course, a Facebook feud would make for a dull narrative in a novel as the characters would be typing back and forth on a computer or tablet. Boring! To make the story work I would have to have my characters out in the real world, so the villain does a whole lot more than harass her on Facebook. He does drivebys past her house. He pops up when she’s out in public. His goal is to completely destroy her career and ruin her life, and he won’t allow anyone or anything to get in his way. In other words, he’s one of my most devious villains to date, and he makes The Stalker a real page turner.

The Stalker is now with the proofreader, and I’m hoping to release it in November. Stay turned.

MM

 

Welcome to the New Edition of Marina Martindale’s Musings

Welcome to the new home for Marina Martindale’s Musings.

After experiencing some technical issues with my previous blog host I’ve moved to WordPress, and I’m happy with the results. We have a new look, a more stable platform, and I’ve brought over the best of the best from my old blog. So please, pull up a chair, and make yourselves comfortable at the new home for Marina Martindale’s Musings.

MM

Meet Beau Fowler The Corrupt Cop in THE BETRAYAL

Fowlerstockphoto
Photo by CanStockPhoto.com

Sometimes the people we think we can trust the most are the very people who’ll betray us. As I mentioned in an earlier post, The Betrayal is also a good cop vs bad cop story. Kyle Madden, the leading man, is a good cop who risks his both career and his life to save Emily, the leading lady. However his partner, Beau Fowler, is also his nemesis. 

 

A thirty-year police veteran, Beau has been a good cop who’s caught his fair share of bad guys, but during that time he’s also been passed up for promotions, oftentimes by younger officers he helped train. Now his luck appears to be changing. He’s been called to investigate a suspicious death at the home of a well-known motivational speaker. It’s the high profile case he’s been waiting for. All he has to do is get a conviction and he’s sure to get his long overdue promotion–even if it means framing an innocent woman. In Beau’s mind, people sometimes have the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  

 

Beau Fowler is a purely fictitious character, who, sadly, is inspired by the occasional bad cop out there who inflicts harm innocent citizens. Fortunately such officers are rare, as most are like Kyle; good people who put their lives on the line each and everyday. 

Life Inside the Writing Tunnel

Fantastic Trees - Tunnel of Love with fairy light afar, magic background
Photo by Fotolia.com

I’ve spent the past few months back inside the writing tunnel. The writing tunnel is that magical place where my stories are created. Okay, it’s actually a den I converted into an office, or even the occasional hotel room, but nevertheless, the writing tunnel is where I go to let my imagination take over and create my stories.

Readers tell me it’s hard to put my books down. And you all should see it from my end. I get up each morning and try to put in a little writing time before getting bogged down with all the “real job” stuff. Then, in the evenings, instead of watching television, I’m back into my manuscript, working out the next scene, or the next chapter, or creating a new character. It’s so much fun. I just wish I could figure out why I’m still paying for cable. Must be for those times when I’m not writing.

Sometimes people ask me how I do my job. Do I work out a detailed outline first and then follow it verbatim? Or do I just sit down and start writing? It’s a little bit of both actually. First I’ll write a treatment, or short plot summary. It’s not too specific and it’s only a few paragraphs in length. It’s my idea for the basic story concept, but not much else. I use it mainly to get the story started, and so I’ll have a rough idea of how it will end. Once I start writing the actual story I set the treatment aside and go where the characters take me. Then, when I’m finished with my story, I’ll go back and look at the original treatment. Without exception, it’s remarkably different from the finished novel, and sometimes the ending will be different as well. Someone once said life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. I think the same could be said for good story writing.

MM

Meet Emily St. Claire, Leading Lady in THE BETRAYAL

Emily
Photo by CanStockPhoto.com

I decided I would make Emily St. Claire, my leading lady in The Betrayal, a loving, devoted wife. Emily is happily married to Jesse, her college sweetheart, and she put her dream of becoming a concert pianist on hold, at least for a time, taking a job as an office manager so Jesse could launch his own career. And now that he’s become successful, it’s Emily’s turn to pursue her dream.

Unfortunately, Emily’s world is about to be turned upside down. She’ll get the shock of her life when she discovers Jesse has been unfaithful to her. Emily, however, is nothing if not resilient. She returns home to her father, and her piano, determined to follow her dreams, with or without Jesse. But as she begins to follow her dream, her life will take another unexpected turn. An unforeseen tragedy will lead her to Kyle, a man who’ll love her unconditionally, but before Kyle can pursue her, he has to save her from another enemy, determined to destroy her.

I wanted Emily to be the polar opposite of Maggie Andrews, the betrayed wife in The Deception. Both women have been deeply hurt by their husband’s infidelity, but Maggie chooses to take her wrath out on Carrie, her husband’s mistress, even with the knowledge that Carrie was completely unaware that Scott was married and had already ended the relationship. Maggie is a bitter, unhappy woman, who uses her husband’s affair as an excuse to destroy another person’s life because she believes doing so will somehow make her feel vindicated.

Emily, on the other hand, tries her best to handle her husband’s infidelity with grace and dignity, but another man will soon take advantage of her vulnerability, causing her to make a decision she will later regret, and that others will use against her.

While Emily is a fictitious character, the inspiration for her story came from two different friends. One was a man I dated many years ago who had caught his ex-wife in the act. The other was a friend who never forgot the day her father came home and caught her mother being unfaithful. Adultery doesn’t just harm the spouse who was cheated on. It affects others as well, and both The Betrayal, and The Deception, are stories about the long term consequences of infidelity.

MM

 

 

Meet Denise Sanderson The Evil Nurse in THE JOURNEY

Medical doctor woman in the office
Photo by CanStockPhoto.com

If I had to list the most evil of the villains I’ve created so far, Denise Sanderson would certainly be at the top of the list, especially since she’s the last person readers would expect to be so evil.

Denise is a young nurse who seems to be genuinely compassionate and caring, but Denise has a darker side. When she was in nursing school, she frequented a bar called O’Malley’s Grill, and soon fell in love with one of the bartenders–Jeremy Palmer. Jeremy, however, didn’t feel the same about her, and when she tried to make their relationship more than friends he turned her down. Jeremy soon moved on and forgot about her, but Denise neither forgave, nor forgot, his rejection.

Jeremy and Denise would meet again, but under different circumstances. Denise, now a nurse, has been assigned to care for Cassie, Jeremy’s wife, who’s been seriously injured in a car crash. She quickly befriends both Cassie and Jeremy, and while Jeremy can’t quite place her, she seems familiar nonetheless. He feels he can trust her, but Denise will use his trust to unleash her revenge, and Jeremy’s life will never be the same.

Denise is a fictitious character, but she also represents a deep-seeded fear many of us may have. What if the people we trust to take care of us during our most vulnerable times really don’t have our best interests in mind?

MM

Swearing About My Dialoge

FwordOne of the more interesting challenges I face as an author is writing believable dialog, especially when the conflict has intensified and the characters are feeling the pressure. Those are the times when an, “oh my goodness gracious me,” just won’t cut it. But then again, I don’t want to take it too far the other way and risk offending you, my readers, as I’m aware that some of you have certain limits as to what language is and isn’t appropriate.

When necessary, my characters will say an occasional, “damn,” or “hell,” and oftentimes that’s enough to make the point. Sometimes a character, usually a villain, may call a woman a, “bitch,” or even a, “whore,” but since he or she is the bad guy, the character is meant to be offensive. I want you to hate my villains. They’re not meant to be nice people.

There may also be occasions when a character may exclaim, “son of a bitch.” This might happen if they’re suddenly shocked or surprised by something. It can also happen when they’re referring to a male villain who’s done something outrageous. Again, my villains aren’t meant to be nice. They’re supposed to make other characters angry, and dialog is the most effective way for them to express their anger. It’s also the kind of language we hear in real life when someone is angry.

There are, however, places where I draw the line. First and foremost is using the Lord’s name as a curse word. While I may not overtly religious, I still believe in God, so to me, it’s disrespectful. That’s why you’ll never hear any of my characters, not even the villains, saying the, “G-damn,” word, or using the names, “Jesus,” or “Christ,” as curse words.

The other word I won’t use is the “f-bomb,” as some readers simply find it too offensive. This can be tricky, as there are some situations when even a, “what the hell,” may not be enough. That’s when I’ll have another character interrupt just in time. That way the word is implied, but not actually said.

I realize there are some folks out there who may even find the word, “damn,” offensive, but as an author, I know I can’t be all things to all readers. I’ll also be the first to admit that my novels aren’t for everyone. So if you’re looking for a good, sensual romance, with believable characters who speak the way that real people talk, but without being potty mouths, you’ve come to the right place.

MM