There are days when I wake up and I’m in awe of how lucky I am. Today’s one of those days. It’s cold but the sun’s shining brightly, the sea is calm, the phone’s ringing off the hook, and life is good.
It’s also just been a few days since the release of my new book, Swordfish. Blurb alert!
Cassandra “Cassie” Finsbury has spent almost twenty-five years running for her life, hiding from everyone who knew her, and hoping it was enough to keep her daughter safe. When she learns that she no longer has to run, she is determined to find Daniela again and hires private investigator Bailey Davenport, a retired FBI agent, who is more than up to the task. Bailey finds nothing more irresistible than a mystery and a challenge, and in Cassie, she finds both.
Can Bailey find the key to unlock more than just Cassie’s secrets?
This is the sequel to my very first novel, Ladyfish, and the book I spent two years too-ing and fro-ing about how best to explain Cassie’s past. Because it got a teeny bit complicated. Lol. Okay, a lot complicated.
Cassie is a woman who has spent decades running—hiding—putting her life on hold for the sake of someone else and spent years frozen by an horrific trauma. It would have been very easy for Cassie to become the victim, and little more than that. But I never saw her in that way. Yes, she went through Hell. Yes, she came out the other side wounded, scarred, and sacred, but she never broke. To me, Cassie is probably the strongest character I’ve ever had the pleasure of living in my head. Heck, she even taught me a few things.
I know, I sound a bit crazy, but for me—and I know it’s true for some other writer’s out there—these characters live. They talk to us, not in a creepy tell you to burn stuff down kind of way, but in a way that they can guide and help you. Usually just to tell their story. They can be a bit selfish that way. But In Cassie’s case she was much more giving.
Every character I create comes from a place inside me. I know, that sounds obvious, but hang in with me a minute and you’ll see where I’m going with this. Every character has a little something of me in them. And I do mean everyone. Good guys and bad guys. It’s my way of connecting with them, of making them real to me, and making whole characters rather than flat two dimensional ones that are just a jumble of actions and words that don’t make sense. Now, that can make writing some things very dark. If you read this book, you’ll meet Masood and see what I mean, but it can also be enlightening. This is what I mean when I say Cassie taught me things.
In connecting with Cassie, I connected with a part of myself I didn’t realize existed. A strength to persevere.
I have spoken in the past about my difficulties with mental health issues. I suffer from depression. The big black hole that sucks all the joy and color from the world. That drains me of energy, motivation, and will. Even the energy to care that I’ve stopped caring is too much. I fear being found out, and fear that no-one will help me in equal measure. And I hate myself that I’m not strong enough to stop the spiral before it’s too late. It’s a recurring problem. Like a never ending rollercoaster, up and down, that drags me along, clinging by my fingernails, and wondering when I’ll just fly off. Wondering if anyone would notice, and wondering if I’d even care. And it’s something I had been struggling with again before writing Swordfish.
Day after day I worried that I’d never make my deadline. So I sat down at my laptop and I started to write. I found myself writing my own growing despair in the rubble of Masood’s past, I found myself letting out my loneliness in the emptiness of Bailey’s apartment. My guilt was manifested in Finn’s self recrimination, and my impotence in Oz’s inability to help her the way she felt she should. But when I started writing Cassie’s first scenes I found something else. Resilience. She was able to put her past in the past and seek out that which she most desired, despite her fear, and in those pages I learned that that emotion, that trait had to come from somewhere. It had to be somewhere in me.
This was the first time in my history that I’ve been able to come through a period of depression without medication. The first time I could find the light without someone else shining the torch. The first time I was able to help myself out of the darkness.
I’ve always maintained that words have the power to change the world. I’ve always said that I write to maintain my sanity.
Before Cassie, I never really knew just how true that was.
Now, before the men with strait jackets appear and cart me off, I’d like to offer a book giveaway. Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with BSB Swordfish Giveaway in the subject line, and I’ll enter you into the draw. Let me know if you prefer an eBook or a signed paperback and I’ll draw the winner at noon GMT on January the 26th. (It’s easy for me to remember that as it’s my birthday ;))
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy Swordfish.