Editor and author Devorah Fox has released her first novel in the Big Rig thriller series, Detour, and she’s telling us all about her inspiration behind the story and how exactly former President Bill Clinton is involved! Read on for more:
Authors often get asked, “Where do you get your ideas?”
My answer is “Anywhere. Everywhere. All the time,” and the making of my novel, Detour, is a prime example.
Here’s the plot of this thriller: It’s February, 1993, and trucker Archie “Super Man” Harlanson is traveling to New York’s Hudson Valley with misgivings. He’s eager to see his girlfriend Debbie, but her elitist parents? Not so much. When he ends up at the family home, he figures the hardest part will be surviving the onslaught of relatives arriving to celebrate the birth of Debbie’s nephew. That is until the US President announces his plans to hold a campaign event nearby and the town is caught up in the media frenzy. When Archie stumbles on a deadly plot against the nation’s leader, he finds himself butting heads with skeptical local law enforcement, the FBI, and the White House security team, and dodging the would-be assassins who now have him in their sights, all while trying to keep his head down in a household crazy with new-baby fever.
To a small extent, this all really happened.
In 1993, my partner (later to be my husband), Mike Byrnes, and I traveled from Phoenix, Arizona, to Salt Point, New York, in the dead of winter. Why were we leaving the warm sunny Southwest for the snowbound mid-Hudson Valley? My sister had just given birth to her second child. Our mother had traveled from Florida and was staying in my sister’s house. There wasn’t any room in the house for Mike and me so we ended up in a Motel 6 in the nearby city of Hyde Park. We ate a lot of breakfasts in what was then the Town and Country Diner (it’s since changed hands) which wasn’t the least bit crowded because this was February.
Then President Bill Clinton announced his plans to hold a Town Hall in Hyde Park and visit the Franklin Delano Roosevelt home there. All of Hyde Park went nuts. NYNEX guys were all over the place stringing wires. There was little in the way of nearby lodging so Mike and I ended up with government officials in the motel room next to us. The parking lot became filled with SUVs bearing government license plates. Reporters from the big-city newspapers descended on Hyde Park, seemingly prepared to interview anyone who would sit still for it.
As big an event as the president’s visit was, the bigger event was the birth of my niece, so no one in our family even bothered to get tickets to the Town Hall.
However, being a writer, I couldn’t help but observe the dramatic way the area responded to the president’s imminent appearance. Throughout the week, the idea of a visitor to the area uncovering some dire plot took hold. I sketched out Chapter One not long after returning home.
Other demands on my time kept me from advancing the story but the idea wouldn’t let go. It continued to simmer on a mental back burner for twenty years. In 2013, I participated in a writing marathon and saw an opportunity to pick up where I had left off. Several drafts, reworked titles, and years later, I had Detour.
Except for President Clinton, all the characters are fictitious, although I was probably inspired by people that I know. (Some readers have told me that hero Archie Harlanson somewhat resembles Mike Byrnes. I don’t know how that happened.) Although some of the locations in the book exist (or did at the time), the rest are inventions. I was so charmed by the location of what was my sister’s house on Hibernia Road that I used it, although I created a much different dwelling to occupy that lot.
I also put into the book what I’ve learned about heavy-truck driving based on 30 years of publishing Bumper to Bumper, The Complete Guide to Tractor-Trailer Operations, a textbook for training commercial motor vehicle drivers. A trucker’s job isn’t easy, and the contribution that cargo transport drivers make to our economy and our lifestyle is rarely recognized or appreciated. It was my intention to give readers an idea of what truckers do, and what their life is like.
Apparently I did a good job because readers are asking for more stories featuring Archie Harlanson and his fellow fictional characters. And yes, I already have some ideas…