People frequently ask where book ideas come from. Of course, the answer is everywhere. Really, everywhere. I carry a small notebook with me all the time just to be ready and often type notes on my phone or send myself emails with snippets of dialog or plot thoughts.
THE PRETENDER grew out of an idea for a kind of book I wanted to write. See, THE PRETENDER takes place on a private island. The heroine’s family is very wealthy. It’s also a mess. The heroine, Gabby, has experienced unimaginable loss. Her parents died in a plane crash and her sister, who was a bit of a recluse, was killed at this private island. And did I mention rumors are circulating that Gabby killed all of them? As I said, this family is a mess.
Setting the book on a private island meant making the book feel very insular with a limited cast of characters and very few scenery changes. It also allowed me to go in-depth on these people’s backstories. I loved the challenge. There aren’t any big shoot-outs, explosions or car chases in the book. No one is an undercover agent. This book had to unravel differently, mixing the romance and suspense in a very confined way.
Researching for the book, I did get to look at pages of beautiful island homes, which was so much fun. The fictional Tabitha Island is set in Maryland, but the one I used as inspiration is actually close to New York. The buildings, the placement of the people, the transportation to and from the island where all things I really had to pay attention to. No one could hop in a car. I couldn’t have one person run off and disappear for a short time. The island is not that big!
Being in such a small area meant the characters either knew each other before the book started or they had to have a very good reason for being on the island for an extended period of time. Since the hero – Harris – is an art thief (sort of a recovering one) that meant using subterfuge. After all, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for a thief to be hanging around unnoticed as Gabby tries to figure out who killed her sister. Which lead to the other factor I wanted in this book – secrets. Lots of them. Gabby’s secrets. Her family’s secrets. Harris’s secrets. The killer’s secrets… So many secrets.
So if you’re thinking you’d like to try a sexy close proximity story with secrets and a bit of suspense in the form of a cold case, this might work for you. It’s a book that’s been kicking around in my head for a long time. The pieces finally came together and the Games People Play series became the perfect home for it. Enjoy!
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