As authors we have to use our imaginations—goes without saying, really. As romantic suspense authors, our imaginations often take us to some pretty dark places. And we live there for as long as it takes to feel the chill down our spines or the outright terror clawing at our guts and get it down on paper. We go back there, over and over, to those black corners, cobwebbed hidey-holes and damaged psyches, smoothing the contours, adding that final layer, the slightest hint of light or deepening darkness.
Most of the time I can find that frightening place in my own evil little mind (mwah ha ha) but when the dark place is a physical location—well, there's nothing like the real thing to get you in the zone.
I was inspired to write Betrayed by Trust by a terrible crime committed right here in the nation's capital. A young government intern disappeared amidst rumors (true, as it turned out) of her involvement with a congressman. Her body was found a year later in heavily wooded Rock Creek Park. Several years later we learned that her killer was an illegal immigrant who had attacked other women in the park.
In Betrayed by Trust, a beautiful young Capitol Hill aide named Blair disappears and her body is found several months later on Roosevelt Island, a tiny wooded island in the Potomac River with a giant statue of Teddy Roosevelt and trails that wind through marsh and swamp. I've been on the island many times with my husband and dogs and kids, finding a bit of nature in view of the Lincoln memorial and the famous Key Bridge. In my book, the police have a suspect—a foreigner with alleged terrorist ties. But alas, it's not that simple…
My story takes place in late June and July, so on the 4th of July I had the brilliant idea to watch the fireworks from Roosevelt Island. My husband suggested we stand on the bridge leading onto the island, but, like Blair's sister, my heroine in the story, I wanted to experience the woods at night at the spot where Blair had tumbled off the path and landed in her swampy grave.
It was very, very dark as we walked the trail in the woods that night. We had expected to have lots of
My husband lugged his camera and tripod off the path, through thick, prickly bushes onto a tiny spot of muddy ground where he could see the sky through the trees. By this time I was practically hyperventilating. I don't like the woods at night. I'm not brave. And I hate mosquitoes. I wanted to get off that island in the worse way. But it was a couple of miles back to the bridge and the most stubborn man on the planet (who had forgotten the flashlight) informed me that he was not budging until he had some shots of the fireworks.
I lasted about five minutes.
I knew the way back, and I could still see the path even though it was super dark under the canopy of trees. I walked for about the first thirty seconds…and then I ran. Ran like I was being chased. And as I ran, I became Blair, fleeing from a villain she thought she could trust, slipping on the muddy trail, muscles aching, heart pounding, shadows turning sinister, breath coming in shallow, hysterical gasps…
After an endless amount of time I could make out the bridge ahead and the lights of Georgetown twinkling, and I slowed my pace. I closed my eyes and took a deep, grateful breath. For the duration of that two-mile run I had lived inside my story, and experienced some of the terror Blair had felt in the final moments of her life.
I wouldn't want to go there again.
Betrayed by Trust will be released on July 8th by Carina Press.