A big welcome to Elizabeth Heiter, author of the Profiler series. Take it away Elizabeth!
Inspiration and Execution
You might think that, since I write psychological suspense – often with creatively deadly villains – I mean execution literally. But no, I’m talking about the way a story comes together and how it compares to that very first inspiration, the spark that set the whole book in motion.
For me, usually the spark is just that – the beginning of what I hope will be a much bigger flame. Sometimes, the spark sends me in a completely different direction and doesn’t really end up being a major part of the story at all.
In Stalked, my latest Profiler novel, there were actually two separate sparks that came together to create my premise. Because Stalked is part of an ongoing series, I already knew my protagonist, FBI profiler Evelyn Baine, very well. Of course, in this book – as with every book – she was going to have to grow and change. And when I had the first spark of the new plot, I knew what Evelyn’s personal challenge would be, too: her changing relationships with the people in her life – and one she hasn’t seen in a long time who returns.
Stalked is all about the people closest to us, the people we think we know best. But what if we don’t? What if one secret we keep means the difference between life and death?
I was researching real-life cases, looking for inspiration, when I came across two separate stories. One I remembered from a long time ago: a teenager went overseas on a class trip and disappeared. And her mom spent the next several years doing everything she could to bring her daughter home – and then to find her justice. The mom’s journey really spoke to me: what would a mother do to find her missing daughter? And what if the person responsible was someone in her daughter’s life?
The second case was about a twenty-something woman who went missing. Later, family members found a note she’d left them saying that if they found it, not to bother looking for her. It turned out that she’d been unwillingly pulled into prostitution.
The things that happen in Stalked are nothing like what happened in those real cases. But pieces of them fill the pages: A missing girl. A note left behind foretelling her own death. A separate case of possible human trafficking that may or may not be related. And at the center of all of it? A mom desperately searching for her daughter, and my FBI profiler trying to unravel all the secrets in the girl’s life to figure out which one caused her disappearance.
That place where inspiration veers off into a brand new story often happens unexpectedly, when the hint of an idea turns into a totally different what if? And that’s part of the fun, because you never know where inspiration will strike – or where it will lead you.
To learn more about my Profiler series, visit my website at www.elizabethheiter.com. You can also connect with me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/elizabeth.heiter.author or Twitter at @ElizabethHeiter.
About Elizabeth Heiter
Critically acclaimed and award-winning author ELIZABETH HEITER likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit (or a lot!) of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range. Her novels have been published in more than a dozen countries and translated into eight languages; they’ve also been shortlisted for the Daphne Du Maurier award, the National Readers’ Choice award and the Booksellers’ Best award and won the RT Reviewers’ Choice award.
If you’re reading this, I’m already dead…
That’s the note seventeen-year-old Haley Cooke leaves behind when she disappears from inside her high school. FBI profiler Evelyn Baine is called in to figure out who had reason to hurt her. On the surface, the popular cheerleader has no enemies, but as Evelyn digs deeper, she discovers that everyone close to Haley has something to hide. Everyone from estranged parents to an older boyfriend with questionable connections to a best friend who envies Haley’s life.
Secrets can be deadly…
One of those secrets may have gotten Haley killed. If she’s still alive, Evelyn knows that the more the investigation ramps up, the more pressure they could be putting on her kidnapper to make her disappear for good. It’s also possible that Haley isn’t in danger at all, but has skillfully manipulated everyone and staged her own disappearance. Only one thing is certain: uncovering Haley’s fate could be dangerous—even deadly—to Evelyn herself.