So where does the inspiration for my troubled characters come from, if not from my own life?
The easiest answer, of course, is that my books are works of fiction. They’re completely make-believe. If I had been kidnapped at gunpoint like Mia Dennett in The Good Girl, or homeless and living on the streets of Chicago, such as Willow in Pretty Baby, I probably wouldn’t want to write about it. The fact that my own life is so different from these characters gives me the ability to examine their lives and consider a darker side of reality that I wouldn’t want to explore if the issues were too close to home. Because it is fiction, I’m able to have the necessary distance to dive into topics such as foster care and homelessness, mental illness and abuse with a detached eye, while still feeling moved by the plight of my characters.
I like to think of myself as an empathetic person, one who is well aware of the misfortunes in our world. There are unhappy families and overlooked, orphaned and abused children. In our society, there is marital strife, adultery, prevalent illiteracy and homelessness, and sometimes bad things happen to good people. My novels are dark psychological suspense tales, but that they are more than that too. They take a look at some of the adversity within our society and question what happens when everyday people are placed in difficult situations. In PRETTY BABY, Heidi and Chris lead relatively normal, unexceptional lives. They’re happy enough in their marriage, have a child and careers, and are financially sound. But all of this normalcy gets challenged when Heidi welcomes a young, homeless girl and her baby into their home. Hidden pasts rise slowly to the surface to discover what lies beneath the image of a relatively happy, normal family.
Characters’ lives get turned on end, and secrets are exposed. But these secrets shine light on social issues that will hopefully leave readers wondering how we as a society can better help those trapped in seemingly helpless situations: the poor, the abused, the neglected, the broken-hearted and grief-stricken. They are the inspiration for my characters.