Life has been hectic, crazy, strange and over the top, and whenever that happens manuscripts inevitably get pushed to the side, but by golly, I finally got it done. My next novel, The Letter, has gone to the editor, just in time to be stalled in her inbox as she gets ready to move across the country. Sometimes you have to either laugh or cry, but it also gives me a grace period in case I get a middle of the night inspiration for a last-minute change.
Like my previous novels, The Letter has plenty of plot twists as the characters deal with unexpected challenges. However, leading man Danny is more fallible than some of his predecessors, such as Alex Montoya in The Deception and Shane MacLeod in The Stalker. Danny is haunted by issues from his past that he can’t seem to resolve, while leading lady Stephanie is a woman with backbone who calls it as she sees it, but she sometimes does so without considering the long-term consequences.
Look for characters from my other novels to make an appearance. Jesse St. Claire from The Betrayal makes a cameo, while Paul, a supporting character from The Reunion, also has a significant role.
My editor loved Shane. She thought he was the best leading man since Alex Montoya in The Deception, and she has a point. Both will do whatever it takes to protect and defend the women they love, and both were “nerdy” kids when they were young.
Rachel and Shane went to the same high school, but had different circles of friends. Shane hung out with a couple of other nerdy kids, known as “The Math Club,” while Rachel, who was on the yearbook committee, took their club photo. And even though she didn’t notice him, he certainly noticed her, and he soon had a secret crush on her. Fast-forward to their ten year class reunion. Shane has gone from a nerdy teenager to a handsome, accomplished man, who, upon seeing her, reintroduces himself and invites her to join him at his table. Rachel accepts. The two quickly become friends, but little they know that another man from Rachel’s past intends to destroy her, and he will stop at nothing to get to her.
Like Alex, Shane is a purely fictitious character not inspired by anyone I’ve known in real life. Tis a pity indeed.
If you liked, The Deception, you’ll like The Stalker as well. Along with similar leading men and a supporting character who appears in both books, both leading women have enemies who intend to destroy them at all costs.
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.
It’s funny how things sometimes work out. Jeremy Palmer was originally intended to be a rouge character in The Reunion. He would make a brief appearance, do his dirty deed, and then disappear into the night. But sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned. As I was writing The Reunion, I came to realize that Ian, the leading man, wouldn’t have had such an evil son. So Jeremy went from rogue villain to a rival, competing with his father for Gillian’s affections, and creating a storyline that many readers tell me was their favorite part of The Reunion. Jeremy blossomed. Okay, he jumped off the page. He became a sexy, vibrant character worthy of having his own novel, The Journey.
We first meet Jeremy in The Reunion as a twenty-one-year-old bartender. He has his father’s good looks, and his mother’s bold, sometimes too direct, personality. Jeremy isn’t one to mince words. He likes to get straight to the point, and his bluntness occasionally gets him into trouble.
The Journey begins approximately eighteen months after The Reunion has ended. Jeremy is now working as an engineer, and he’s happily married to Cassie. (You really didn’t think Ian would have allowed him to steal Gillian away, did you?) Jeremy’s world turns upside down the night Cassie is seriously injured in a car crash. He rushes to the hospital and stays by her side. While Cassie recovers they befriend Denise, one of Cassie’s nurses. Denise seems familiar, and while Jeremy can’t quite place her, she has never forgotten how he jilted her, years before. Denise wants a second chance with Jeremy, and she’s about to unleash an evil plan to win him back.
Jeremy is a purely fictitious character. He wasn’t inspired by anyone I knew in real life, although his character is very similar to the young Ian seen in the flashback chapters of The Reunion. The younger Ian was inspired by someone I knew, long ago. And just like his father, Ian, Jeremy will make his fair share of mistakes, no doubt making some readers saying, “Like father, like son.”
Alex has to be one of the most likable, not to mention sexy, characters I’ve ever created. He’s strong, yet quirky and vulnerable at the same time. The American-born son of a Spanish immigrant father, Alex is American in every way, while his father still clings to Old World customs and traditions.
Alex and Carrie, the leading lady, have a friendship dating back to the fourth grade. They remained friends through high school, but when they ended up going to colleges on opposite ends of the country they drifted apart. Ten years later Carrie deeply regrets letting Alex go. After her identity is stolen, and she’s accused of a serious wrongdoing as a result, a friend arranges for her to meet with a bright young attorney who can help her. Much to her surprise, that bright, young attorney is none other than her long-lost best friend, Alex.
I decided to have Alex be of Spanish descent in honor of a friend I had years ago, who was also of Spanish descent. She had great pride in her heritage, and she often spoke of it. I also had another close friend who was the first American born child of Italian immigrant parents. She too was proud of her heritage, but she sometimes found herself in conflict with her parents whenever they tried to impose their Old World expectations on her.
If I had to describe Alex in one word, it would be loyal. He’s the kind of man who’s willing to go the extra mile for the people he cares about, while not expecting anything in return. That’s what makes him a positive role model.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret that until now, only my closest friends knew. Ian Palmer, the leading man in my novel, The Reunion, was inspired by a real person.
Ian is an architect who appears in most of the story as a middle-aged man. He’s had a successful career, working his way to a prestigious position with a large architecture firm. His personal life, however, has been less than stellar. He married the wrong woman for the wrong reasons, and the marriage ended after he discovered his wife had cheated on him. Now Ian’s life is about to change. He has a second chance with Gillian, his long-lost love, but his new-found happiness will soon be put to the test. As new challenges come his way, Ian struggles to balance Gillian, parenthood, and his career, which is about to come to an unexpected and untimely end.
Ian also appears in this story as a young man. During the flashback chapters readers will see him as an outgoing but ambitious college student who, just by chance, happens to meet Gillian, the girlfriend of one of his classmates. The two quickly become friends, and, after Gillian’s relationship with Ryan ends, they become more than friends. Unfortunately, Ian’s ambition and desire to succeed will be their undoing, at least the first time around. It’s this younger Ian who was inspired by someone I once knew.
Now I can’t divulge his real name. That would violate his privacy. I’ve also gave him a different physical description and hometown than his real-life counterpart. What I can tell you is that just like the Gillian, I attended Arizona State University, and while I was there I met a young architecture student who turned out to be the love of my life. In fact, how I met him was pretty much the same way as I’ve described Gillian meeting Ian. So, for those of you wondering about his real identity, that ought to narrow down to a few thousand people.
Does the real Ian know about The Reunion? Somehow I doubt it. We lost touch with one another years ago, and I’ve long since moved on. But if he ever should hear about The Reunion, I hope he’ll like it, and I hope he’ll take the Ian character as the complement he is meant to be.