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Behind the Book: The (Mostly) True Story of the Writing of Missing You

Where did the amnesia idea come from?

missing you marquee

Me: Here we are, at the end of our journey into your creative process with your Lonesome Lawmen. The last book in the series. [I did end up writing a short story, “Lonesome Mama” as a bonus for the first time I bundled the books together.]

Myself: Missing You.

Me: Missing You. Let’s dive right in. So, unlike the previous books in the series, this one wasn’t even a germ of an idea when you decided to start writing it, right?

Myself: That’s right. All the while I was finishing Byte Me, I knew Luke’s story was out there somewhere. I toyed with different women in my head, even considered having Dani’s friend, Kelly, from The Last Enemy have a crack at him, but nothing felt quite right.

Me: And then you finally had to face the blank page…

Myself: I’d been working on a proposal for my agent, so I’d keep it locked away in the very back of my brain, but when spring rolled around and I was supposed to turn the book in late July, early August, it burst out of the closet. Besides, Luke was ready for his share of the happiness going around. <g>

Me: Where did the amnesia idea come from?

Myself: Ooh, I hate to admit, but for years I’ve had this alien with amnesia story bouncing around in my head, but I just couldn’t get it to fit anywhere or even come to full plot bloom. The Kirby family had this cabin and in my alien story, she’s always in a cabin. I just had to give up on her being alien and find how who she was and why on earth someone would try to kill her.

Me: You also had to take this book out of the federal realm, since Luke was a cop.

Myself: Actually, I needed to take it out, while keeping it in, so I could resolve the subplot about Bryn and Dewey. That was truly a challenge. And it had to be about eco-terrorism. All this was stuck together in my brain waiting for skill—driven by pure panic—to sort it all out.

Me: You had some other challenges besides time, didn’t you?

Myself: Yeah, my husband was ill. Little bit of stress there. <wg>

Me: So, you started writing?

Myself: It really helped that I knew all the players from the previous books. All I had to do was come up with my villains. And I knew I wanted to push the envelope, go in a slightly different direction with this book, so that previous readers of the series wouldn’t feel they’d “been there, done that.”

Me: And how did you accomplish that?

Myself: Well, I just pushed myself hard and I pushed the story elements. Every day, after I’d finished writing a chapter, I’d sit down and think, how can I bump up the volume, the tension in what I just wrote. I looked for every direction I could twist the story, places where I could surprise. Got a few surprises myself, doing that. <g>

Me: Name one.

Myself: Well, Grady, one of my villains. I didn’t expect to like him. I was going for contrast with what I thought was my main villain, but he didn’t like playing second chair to anyone.

Me: He was engaging and in need of his comeuppance, which he got. <g> What was another thing that surprised you about this book?

Myself: Bryn and Dewey. I’d actually toyed with the idea of giving them their own book, as I mentioned in my last interview, but Dewey was tired of being a love-in-waiting. <g> He wanted his girl and he wanted her now.

Me: I notice you were criticized by one reviewer for having Bryn and Dewey not anticipate their wedding night—and for the fact that they each were the other’s first.

Myself: Yeah, I thought that was an interesting comment by the reviewer. She acts like it’s not possible for people to wait, but I know a lot of people do, not just for religious reasons, but because its good common sense. I didn’t make that decision for them. They were both highly disciplined people, willing to take risks with their lives when necessary, but both very reluctant to risk their hearts. To me, it made perfect sense for them to make that decision. <shrug> I find it interesting that people can’t imagine someone else doing anything but what they would do. Did that just make sense? <g>

Me: Well…to me it did, but what does that mean? <g>

Myself: Oh well, maybe some kind soul will tell us if it doesn’t. <g>

Me: Another complaint is that Luke and our heroine aren’t together enough.

Myself: Well, it frustrated them, too, but they dealt with it. (laughs) I think if I added up the pages, they actually spent more time in each other’s presence than Dani or Phoebe did with Matt and Jake. I think what complaints like those are, again, the fact that my characters don’t make love. <shrug> While in some measure it is obviously a choice I’m making, it is also a choice my characters are making. I guess a case could be made for me creating them that way, but I only begin the process, then the characters teach me about themselves. Do I try not to write love scenes? Yes, because I’m not comfortable writing them and everything I’ve read says, if you aren’t comfortable, the reader will know. Had I done it, I’d have a reviewer complaining about that. It’s all part of the territory. At least it’s only one, the rest of my reviews have been great. 🙂

Me: No kidding! Getting compared to Tami Hoag and Iris Johansen! I think your head is getting a bit swelled there. <g>

Myself: (laughs) Whenever it is, someone always comes along to shrink me back to normal. I’m a reader, so I know that I once I’m finished, I want the next book and I want it to be as good or better than the last. No pressure. <g>

Me: So, you wrote this on a tight deadline. How did that go?

Myself: It was painful and exciting. Painful, because I didn’t get to spend as much time with my characters as I usually do and I missed that. Exciting because I did it. I finished it on time. In my progression as a writer, it was another important milestone, knowing I could do it, even when life is complicated, and do it on time. It gave me a much needed boost of confidence. 🙂

Me: If I remember right—which how could I not—9/11 came right after you delivered this book and before you had to do edits. How did that affect you?

Myself: Like most of the country, I felt like I’d been blasted, too. I had a very hard time focusing on anything, let alone summoning the concentration needed for editing, but somehow, it all worked out. It will always be a book, though, that I look back on with very mixed emotions. And they are feelings I hope time doesn’t completely heal. I don’t ever want to forget what happened that day.

Me: You actually saw the second plane hit the tower on television, didn’t you?

Myself: Yes, we were watching and, like the news people, speculating about what had happened. Being a suspense writer, I was talking about a terrorist attack, but not really seriously. Then we watched the plane come in. I remember how unreal it seemed as it circled, then went in. When the plume of smoke shot out, I knew my life would never be the same again.

Me: When did you finally feel like yourself again?

Myself: For a while there I wondered if I ever would. Christmas was…difficult and my husband was and is still struggling with his health. I gave myself until the new year and I guess my brain gave myself permission to heal. All I know is, all the sudden I was writing again and gradually my sense of humor returned from hiding, too. It was one way for me to reject the terror part of it, I guess.

Me: You did some other things, too, didn’t you?

Myself: Like everyone I knew, we wanted to do something, but we couldn’t go kick butt ourselves, so some of the women in our church are working on projects for the Humanitarian Center. It’s an organization that ships humanitarian aid all over the world. I’ve been knitting leprosy bandages and working on some other stuff. It’s been a big help to feel like I’m doing something—and doing it with my own hands. It has also helped me to get my concentration back, I think, having something to do with my hands besides wring them. <wg>

Me: Well, this wraps up our Behind the Book series for the Lonesome Lawmen! What do you think we’ll be doing with ourselves now that you don’t have a book to talk about.

Myself: Well, I’m sure I’ll think of something. <eg>

Me: Uh, oh.

Myself: Indeed. <g>

Well, this is the last of the Lonesome Lawmen interviews. Do you feel like you learned anything interesting (other than how crazy I am, of course)? Seriously, I hope you enjoyed the peek behind the scenes.

Perilously yours,


Cover art

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