The Creation Process (A.K.A. Torturing my Characters with Purpose)
How do you begin to write a book? It’s one of the most common questions I’m asked when people find out I’m an author.
I usually start with a simple formula: every day person + bad situation (not the Jersey Shore kind) = main plot line. Sometimes the formula comes to me while I’m watching the news. Something real has happened, and I start thinking, “but what if…?”
I know many writers, especially in romantic suspense, focus on FBI agents and super cops, but I find it easier to connect emotionally with an ordinary person, to force that Average Joe or Jane to reach deep for extraordinary courage and strength. Take a single mom for example. Sure, an FBI agent can do all kinds of cool stuff. But what about a single mom who works as an accountant? What if someone threatened her children? To what lengths would she go to protect her kids? The heroine of SHE CAN RUN, Beth, would give up anything, including her life, to save her children. Other than being smart and resourceful, she has no special training or skills. She’s a mom. Her options are limited.
I teach women’s self-defense. Naturally I read a lot of articles on domestic violence. 1 in 3 female homicides are committed by the victim’s intimate partner. Often fear for themselves and their children is the main reason women stay in a violent relationship—with good reason. Leaving is a dangerous act that can incite immediate or future reprisal. I put Beth in a very real situation, then I took it to an extreme. She was widowed young and left to raise two children on her own. Eventually she remarries. But her new husband, a powerful politician, isn’t what he seems. One day Beth accidentally discovers a secret about her already-abusive spouse, a secret he tries to kill her to keep.
For Beth, staying and enduring for her children’s sake is no longer an option. She has decisions to make, and her children’s lives depend on her choices. How will she keep them alive?