It’s Thanksgiving, a time to reflect on those people and events in our lives that helped create who we are today. Thanksgiving has always been a special holiday for me. Growing up in my family it meant lots of good food, good company and stories. Always stories. To help you understand, I have to share a bit about the family dynamic. My parents were blessed with fifteen natural children and one who joined us at age fifteen. I was the third from the end, so family stories connected me to the life my family lived before my time. I loved hearing all about my brothers and sisters. I knew them, because I heard their stories every Thanksgiving.
We would always have Turkey, with dirty rice and baked spaghetti and cheese, broccoli and baked yams. With full bellies and sleepy smiles we would sit around the family table and listen to everyone reminisce about times gone by. In a family so large, you might think that it would be hard to hear, but that wasn’t the case. When someone was talking, everyone listened, adding a comment or a jibe here and there. Sometimes I’d come to know a story so well, I’d throw out a comment about how last year it had been Mary who did that, or Pete, or Andre. The thread that built the storyteller in me is tied to those times sharing around the table.
As we grew exponentially larger in number, Thanksgiving became conversely smaller. Brothers and sisters started having family Thanksgivings in their homes with their children and their families and I missed the deep connection of our stories. I was a diehard, always coming to my parent’s home for the holiday, cooking with Mom, making Dad his favorite apple pie, until I eventually ended up making the feast for them. I never regretted that. The after dinner stories continued with just the few of us who dined together. Now I learned my parent’s stories, about how they found each other and how they struggled to raise us. The thing they always made sure to tell me was that all they wanted was for all of us to be happy. And for that, I will always be thankful.
When I began my journey as a writer, I started with what I most loved to read. I had always been a fan of mysteries and thrillers, and that’s what I wanted to write. It’s what I always thought of when something weird happened.
Forsaken began with a long walk on a foggy beach back in 2003. I happened upon a suitcase in a trashcan. Why is this suitcase full of medical books and nicely folded clothes lying open in a trash can on the beach? How did it get here and why? I looked at the luggage tag and saw that it had been on a flight from Denver that landed the night before. What happened to the owner? I called the sheriff and reported the bag. They came with a bobcat and pulled the whole can out of the sand (it was on six foot sunken poles). They scraped all of the sand around the can and bagged it up. Then they interviewed me.
I didn’t have much to say, and I never heard what had happened, but my mind couldn’t stop the what ifs, I had to create my own story to fill in the answers. I couldn’t just let it go. It was something that would pop into my head when I was falling asleep, or in a particularly boring conference. What was the story with that suitcase? Finally, I decided to write a story around that moment and Forsaken was born. Now, you won’t find a suitcase in the book, “That’s just not believable” is what I heard. And, yeah, they say truth is stranger than fiction, but fiction is much more fun.
Forsaken grew into so much more than I envisioned, and I’m so happy to finally share it with all of you. I hope you will enjoy Blake and Lindsay’s story. They’re kind of special to me.
In that vein, I’m giving away a copy of Forsaken to one lucky person who comments on this blog. I don’t mind mailing overseas, so let me know if you’ve ever had a moment like mine with the suitcase.
Have a happy Holiday season, and keep on reading.