My 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.
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 Betrayalis also agood 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.
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.
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?
One of the things I enjoy doing as an author is crossing characters from one novel into another. After all, they’re just sitting there, doing nothing, so I may as well put them to work, right? One of these crossover characters is Kyle Madden, who we first meet in The Reunion. Kyle is the police detective who warns Gillian, the leading lady, about her ex-husband, Jason.
As I began formulating the plot line for The Betrayal, I decided to include a good cop/bad cop story, with my leading man being the good cop. The story would be set in Phoenix, and, rather than create a leading man from scratch, I decided to use Kyle. He’d only played a minor role in The Reunion, as a generic police detective, so he had plenty of potential. In The Betrayal, Kyle becomes a thirty-something divorced dad whose wife had left him, and their young son, a few years earlier. Kyle wants very much to be a good father, but his demanding career takes up too much of his time, and it has left him feeling burned out.
Kyle first meets Emily, the leading lady, at an art gallery opening, but they’re destined to meet again. This time, however, it’s official police business, and Kyle soon realizes that Emily is being framed for a crime she didn’t commit. As he fights to prove her innocence, he’ll discover that one of his fellow officers is behind the nefarious plot.
Kyle is a hero who was inspired by real heros, all of the dedicated real life police officers out there who put their lives on the line for the rest of us each and everyday.
They’re out there. The lying, cheating, scumbags. The players. Married men who put themselves out as single men. And like the predators they are, they like to prey on unsuspecting single women, looking for lasting relationships.
Scott Andrews, the antagonist in The Deception, is one of those predators. A handsome and charming software engineer, Scott can, and does, pass himself off as a single man, presenting himself as the perfect catch for a single woman looking for Mr. Right. And unfortunately for the woman, she has no idea that Scott’s married.
Scott is introduced to Carrie, the leading lady, by a mutual friend. As usual, he presents himself as a single man, and he hasn’t just fooled Carrie. He’s also fooled their mutual friend, Allison. Not only does Allison believe that Scott is single, she also thinks he might be a good match for Carrie, who’s still recovering from an earlier breakup. Scott quickly takes advantage of an all too vulnerable Carrie, but it won’t take long for her to realize things just aren’t adding up. By then it will too late, and the consequences will leave her life shattered.
Scott is inspired by someone I once knew, and by stories other women have told me. He may be a fictional character, but there are, unfortunately, many real life Scotts out there. Stay safe, ladies.
Sometimes characters can be problematic simply because of who they are. Such was the case for Laura Palmer, Ian Palmer’s ex-wife in The Reunion.
We all know that in real life, ex-spouses can be a headache, so it would have been all too easy for me to make Laura into a stereotypical bitch. But then again, life isn’t always what we expect, and being eternal optimist I am, I’d like think there are ex-spouses out there who are like my late grandmother–good people trying to make the best out of awkward situations. Besides, I didn’t want to make Laura too common and too predictable.
Laura bursts onto the scene as soon as she learns about her ex-husband’s new romance. Of course she wants to check out Gillian, the leading lady. Her motive, however, isn’t a scheme to try to win Ian back. She’s found someone else. She doesn’t want Ian back. Her motive is her children, and because she’s a good mother she wants to meet with Gillian to draw up the ground rules regarding the kids. Naturally, she’ll bring up Ian during the conversation. Laura is nothing if not direct.
As the story unfolds readers will see Laura not as a witch, but as a woman mislead into a marriage by a man who now admits he married her for all the wrong reasons. She may have looked like Gillian, but she wasn’t Gillian, and for too many years he made her miserable because of it. Fortunately for Laura, she’s found happiness with her finance, Will, and she’s built a new life for herself, helping him run a horse ranch near Steamboat Springs. For a “villain” she’s turned out to be surprisingly likable.
One of the readers reviewing The Deception commented about how we should all be so lucky to have friends like Steve and Allison, two of the supporting characters. Well, guess what? I really do have friends who are just like Steve and Allison, that’s why I’m paying homage to them in the book.
Allison Santiago has known Carrie Daniels, the leading lady, since high school, and their friendship has lasted into adulthood. That friendship, however, will be soon put to the test when Allison introduces Carrie to Scott, a man she’s also known for several years. Allison thinks he might be a good match for Carrie, who’s recently ended a long-term relationship. But unbeknownst to Allison, Scott has a secret, and it could be Carrie’s undoing.
Allison was inspired by several of my friends, but she resembles one woman in particular. The two of us have literally traveled the world together, and, much like her literary counterpart as she’s been a steadfastly loyal friend for over ten years now, and she’s someone I can always count on. Friends like her may be hard to find, but they really are out there.
Cassie Palmer is a character best described as grace under pressure. Seemingly naive and shy on the outside, Cassie is an iron lady in disguise.
We first meet Cassie in The Reunion, when Gillian and Jeremy stop for breakfast at a truck stop diner in Idaho Springs, Colorado, where Gillian suddenly finds herself reunited with the diner owner, her long-long best friend, Samantha Walsh. As they get reacquainted Samantha unveils another surprise–her daughter, Cassie. Gillian is surprised, but Jeremy’s life will never be the same.
Cassie and Jeremy soon become friends, but I don’t want to spoil too much of the story for those who haven’t yet read The Reunion. Cassie returns in The Journey, and this time she’s the leading lady. As the story begins, she is critically injured in a car crash that leaves her fighting for her life. Later, as she begins the long road to recovery, her world will turn upside down once again, yet through it all, she remains gracefully resilient.
Cassie is a purely fictitious character not inspired by anyone I know in real life. She is, instead, an inspiration for those times when we feel overwhelmed by all life’s obstacles.
I seem to have gotten into the habit of creating some really evil antagonists. So much so that they’re even scaring me and leaving me wondering, “Where on earth are these people coming from?” Then my good friend and fellow author, David Lee Summers, explained to me that the antagonist doesn’t always have to be an evil villain. He or she could simply be someone whose goals are contrary to the protagonist’s goals. So, after listening to David’s comments, I decided to give it a whirl and come up with an “un-evil” antagonist. Someone who stands in the way of the protagonist, but has no evil intentions.
Harrison Tyler, or Hal, as his friends call him, is a nurse practitioner with an orthopedic surgeon, and he’s one of three antagonists who appear in The Journey. We first meet Hal during a time when Jeremy, the leading man, is missing and presumed dead, while Cassie, his wife, is still recovering from a broken leg. The time has come for her cast to be removed, and as luck would have it, the technician is out that day, the job falls on Hal, who immediately falls for Cassie. Her brother-in-law, Larry, is also there. He can see that Hal is a decent guy, so he encourages her to go have coffee with him. A reluctant Cassie finally agrees, just to get Larry off her back.
Cassie sees Hal as a friend who’s come into her life at a time when she really needs one. To Hal, however, Cassie is a rare find. And while he hasn’t quite fallen in love with her, he knows he wants her, and he’s willing to wait patiently until she’s ready for him. And if it means having to be persistent, if not a little manipulative, so be it. His intention isn’t to cause any harm. He simply wants to make Cassie his–before it’s too late.
Hal is a purely fictitious character and not inspired by anyone I’ve ever met in real life. He’s a nice guy who’s found himself in the awkward position of wanting something he can never really have, but still trying to reach for it anyway.