Once again I’m bringing a character from an earlier novel into a more recent one. This time it’s Jonathan Fields.
We first meet Jonathan in The Deception as an Internet security and forensics expert who helps identify the person responsible for framing leading lady Carrie for something she did not do. As the story continues, a new and surprising connection between Jonathan and Carrie is revealed.
Jonathan was one of those characters whom I really liked. He’s smart, he’s sexy, and he’s an unlikely hero with plenty of potential for me to work with. So I brought him back in The Stalker. This time around he’s Shane’s boss, and, just like in The Deception, he helps leading lady Rachel identify an enemy out to destroy her.
Like most of my characters, Jonathan is fictitious and not based on anyone I know personally. There are, without a doubt, many real-life Jonathans out there, working quietly behind the scenes to make cyberspace safer for all of us.
We are still hard at work for the new book trailer for The Deception. Today videographer Rob Resetar shot two more scenes–a love scene between Carrie, the leading lady, and Scott, one of the antagonists, and the photo shoot scene. The photo shoot happens early in the novel. It’s the watershed event that shapes the rest of the story.
We still have a few more scenes to film. With any luck, the book trailer will be complete right after the first of the year. In the meantime please enjoy this except from The Deception about the photo shoot.
* * *
Carrie woke up to her ringing cellphone. She rolled over and scooped it up from the floor.
“Hello.” Her voice sounded groggy.
“So what the heck is going on with you?” asked the woman on the other end of the line.
“Yes, Sweetness, it’s Louise. Karl and I ran into Steve and Allison last night at Hernando’s. Allison said Doug dumped you at the state fair, and that for the past few weeks you’ve been camping out in your photography studio, even though they’ve offered you their guest room. So what the hell happened?”
“I got dumped. Doug found himself some bimbo who he’s decided he’s in love with. I really didn’t have a choice. I had to move out.”
“What about the house?”
“It’s deeded solely in Doug’s name, but even if I were to make a claim on it, my mother’s creditors would end up with the money.”
“So why haven’t you found an apartment?”
“I’ve been looking, Louise. The problem is they all want to collect some hefty deposits up front, along with the first month’s rent. Unfortunately, because of Mama, I just don’t have the cash to do it. Once I pay off my monthly expenses, the rest has to go to help pay her bills. Nursing homes aren’t cheap, you know.”
“I know that, but you need to find a decent place to live. Your studio isn’t in the best part of town, and you’re probably violating some city code by staying there. Not to mention the fact that Christmas is only three weeks away. I’ll bet you don’t even have a tree.”
“Actually, all things considered, I’m doing just fine.” Carrie tried to sound upbeat. “Yes, I’m renting warehouse space in an industrial area, and no, I won’t be putting up a Christmas tree this year, but you needn’t worry. I’m okay, really. The tent city jail is nearby so there’s plenty of police and sheriff’s deputies around. My break room has a mini kitchen, and I’m sleeping on an air mattress in the back room where it’s surprisingly quiet. And back when I signed my lease I had the landlord put in a shower for the models to use. So you see, I’m okay. I have all the amenities I need to live comfortably. It’s not like I’m living in a cardboard box underneath a bridge.”
“I understand,” said Louise. “However, the reason I’m calling is because I think I may have a solution for you, that is, if you don’t mind doing another modeling gig.”
“I haven’t done a modeling job in years. You know that. Besides, I’ve just turned thirty. In the world of print modeling, I’m ancient.”
“It’s not a print modeling job. I need an art model. I’ve just picked up a private commission. Some well-to-do couple in Berkeley just bought themselves a big house. Apparently, they’re serious practitioners of tantric yoga, or some such thing, and they want a serious of black and white photos of a female nude, with some curves on her, to display in their new home. You’d be perfect for the job.”
Carrie let out a sigh. She desperately needed the extra cash, but she wasn’t sure if this would be the best way to get it.
“I’ve done some nude work, Louise, but I was always behind the camera, not in front of it. All the photos were done for advertisements. Even though the models were nude, you didn’t see anyone’s privates.”
“I understand if you feel a little shy about doing this, Sweetness, but you’d be working with me. They want something erotic so yes, they’ll want to see all the goods in the photos, but they won’t know your name or anything else about you. You’ll be completely anonymous and I promise you the photos will be tastefully done. It’s fine art, not pornography.”
“Who would see the photos?”
“They’d be for the client’s personal, private use only. That’s what’s written in the contract. They can only be displayed in their home. The only people who would ever see them would be the couple themselves and whoever visits them. They’re not allowed to publish them anywhere, not even on their personal blogs or websites.”
Carrie let out a sigh as she thought it over.
“How much does it pay?”
“Enough to put you into a decent apartment in a good neighborhood. It should cover all the deposits plus your first month’s rent.”
“All right. So when and where do you want to do the shoot?”
“Next Saturday, at my home. Karl has an early-morning tee time and will be spending the entire day on the golf course. It’ll be just you and me.”
“It’ll be a fairly long shoot, so let’s have you here early, about eight o’clock in the morning. Bring a curling iron and some nice barrettes along with your makeup kit. We’ll be doing some different hairstyles, so we’ll have to spend some time working on your hair and makeup throughout the day. And do you by chance have a pair of strappy, opened-toed shoes? Preferably in black.”
“Yes. They’re black patent leather.”
“They’d be perfect, so bring them along.” The excitement was building in Louise’s voice. “The shoes, barrettes, and some costume jewelry are the only things you’ll be wearing. You’ll also need bathrobe that you can slip on in between shoots.”
Carrie still wasn’t sure. Louise must have sensed it.
“Look, Carrie, you don’t have to do this. I can call the agency and have them send another model. I just figured that right now you needed the money.”
“I know, Louise, and you’re right. If the city were to find out I’m living here, they’d probably fine the heck out of me before my landlord kicked me out on the street.”
“Good. We’ll have you living in a decent apartment before you know it. We might even be able to get you a Christmas tree too. But I need to let you know one other thing.”
“I have a show coming up at Hanson Sisters Fine Art in February. I’d like to include five prints from our shoot as a series of hand-signed limited editions. They’d be sold with the same restrictions as the ones going to the couple in Berkeley. You’d remain anonymous, and the photos cannot be published or displayed anywhere in public, except of course for the gallery, but that would be the only time.”
Carrie let out a sigh. There had to be a better way for her to get into an apartment. She glanced at the calendar hanging on the wall. It was the first week of December, the time of year when business normally slowed down. This year would certainly be no exception and things wouldn’t start to pick up again until late January. If she didn’t act now, she’d be living in her studio until March or April, and the longer she stayed, the greater the chances of someone finding out and reporting her to the city. She let out another sigh, knowing she had no other choice.
“Okay, Louise, I’m your girl. I’ll be there, Saturday morning, eight o’clock.”
“Good. You really won’t regret this, Carrie. You’ll be proud of these photos, I guarantee it. I’ll email a contract and release form for you to sign. Make some copies for yourself and bring them with you on Saturday.”
Carrie couldn’t shake the bad feeling she started getting after she ended the call. She thought it over and realized she was probably just nervous. She’d never been photographed in the nude before, and the idea of total strangers looking at her naked body made her feel uneasy. Then again, she’d be doing it for Louise, and she owed her success to Louise’s hard work. She looked at the clock. It was time to get up. She had work to do and she’d be better off focusing her thoughts on the nice apartment she’d soon be living in.
The other day I was chatting with a friend who’s reading The Deception. One of the things she talked about was wanting to deck the boyfriend who dumps the leading lady in the first chapter. I told her this chapter was inspired by a real-life event.
A few years ago I went to San Diego for a book festival. The following morning my friends and I went to Sea World. As we walked around the park we happened to pass by a well-dressed young lady sitting on a bench, sobbing her eyes out. A young man, most likely her boyfriend, stood next to her, with a very serious look on his face. As we hurried past I thought to myself, “I’ll bet that son of a bitch brought her here to dump her, probably thinking she wouldn’t cause a scene.” I’ll never know for sure, as I didn’t see them again, but that picture has always stayed in my mind. And you know what happens when something stays in a novel writer’s mind, don’t you? It comes out in a story. In this instance, it became the inspiration for the opening scene of The Deception, but with a different location. Instead of Sea World, the lady is dumped at The Arizona State Fair. The leading lady’s boyfriend thinks that by dumping her in public she won’t cause a scene, but he thinks wrong. Very wrong. There’s never a good time or place to dump anyone, and doing so in public only adds more humiliation to the person being dumped.
Inspiration can from anywhere and everywhere, oftentimes when I least expect it.
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.
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.
If there were an unsung heroine in The Deception, it would have to be Billie Hughes. A former model turned FBI agent, Billie and Carrie, a former child model, quickly form a strong bond. Her specialty is white-collar crimes, and she’s one of the agents in charge of the investigation when Carrie’s identity is stolen. Billie is in her forties, and, while not mentioned in the final manuscript, she’s also the mother of a grown son.
Billie is a purely fictitious character, but she and her partner, Agent O’Dell, are inspired by, and loosely based, on a neighbor I had many years ago who was also an FBI agent. He was a hardworking professional who put his life on the line each and every day to help make the world a safer place for the rest of us.
As I write more novels I find myself getting into the habit of using crossover characters, meaning I’ll take a supporting character from one book, and use him or her in another novel. Must be a habit I picked up a few years ago when I wrote a series of children’s books under a different name. The same two kids appeared in all the books, so I got comfortable with the idea of carrying characters from one book to another.
George McCormick, from TheDeceptioncharacter, was my first crossover character. A crusty ex homicide detective turned private investigator in The Deception, George is hired by Alex to prove Carrie’s innocence after she’s wrongly accused of plagiarism and copyright infringement. Later on, when Alex disappears, Carrie sends George to search for him.
George went on to appear in my next novel, The Journey. This time around he’s been hired by an insurance company to investigate the disappearance and apparent murder of Jeremy Palmer. While not as big of a role this time around, George nonetheless plays a pivotal part in the story.
Crossover characters make the novels more fun. Readers will recognize those characters from other novels, and it’s a nice way to interconnect my stories. Look for more crossover characters in future novels.
We’ve all known people like this, haven’t we? People who are sweet as pie to your face and pretend to be your best friend when, in reality, they have their own agenda, and their only interest is in using you. With friends like that who needs an enemy, right? Meet Louise Dickenson, one of the antagonists in The Deception. Louise is more than happy to be your friend, provided you have something of benefit to her, which makes her such a great antagonist. She’s the kind of woman we all love to hate.
Louise is a semi-retired commercial photographer. Years before, she was the photographer who shot all the print ads of Carrie, the leading lady, when she was a child model. The two forged a friendship, or so Carrie believed. Later on, when Carrie became a commercial photographer herself, Louise mentored her.
Louise is now an art photographer. She has a show coming up at a local art gallery, and she’s also picked up a private commission from clients who want a series of photos of a female nude to display in their home. Louise plans on including the nude photos in her upcoming show as well, but first she needs a model. Knowing that Carrie is down on her luck with hardly a penny to her name, Louise decides to help her friend by offering her a well paying modeling gig, but when Carrie hesitates about posing in the nude, Louise skillfully calms her fears by convincing Carrie that she really is trying to help her. Finally, Carrie accepts, but the experience leaves her feeling manipulated and exploited, and as events unfold, she’ll finally discover that Louise was never her friend.
Louise is a fictitious character, but she’s loosely based on a family member who was also a master manipulator.
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 really tried to give Carrie Daniels, my Deceptionleading lady, a nice, girl-next-door quality, and, judging by the comments I’m receiving from reviewers, it looks like I’ve hit my mark.
A freelance photographer and former child model, Carrie’s entire world is about to come crumbling down. Three years earlier her mother suffered a debilitating stroke, and Carrie went from riches-to-rags once her mother’s insurance ran out. Her financial calamity, however, is only the beginning of her problems. Doug, her significant other for the past ten years, is about to dump her, and, once that happens, Carrie will be left homeless and vulnerable, making it all too easy for Louise, her former mentor, to seize the opportunity to exploit Carrie for her own selfish gains.
As the story unfolds, Carrie will experience both sides of infidelity. She will be shocked and devastated when Doug admits he’s been unfaithful to her. She’ll also be deceived by Scott, a married man who presents himself to her, and her best friend, as a man who’s single and available. Carrie leaves the relationship once she realizes things aren’t adding up, but by then it will be too late as Scott’s wife, Maggie, seeks revenge. Yet despite her troubles, Carrie remains resilient as she tries to make the best of what she can. She’s the kind of character you can root for–sweet on the outside, but strong on the inside.
Carrie is a mostly fictitious character, in that I did not model her after anyone in particular, although I may have put a little of myself into her. Photography has always been one of my life’s passions, and, in my younger days, I too dreamed of being a model.