MARCH 22, 2017 Today is a special day for me. It’s release day for ECHOES OF TERROR my thriller set in Skagway, Alaska.
I’m sure Sergeant Kenneth Cox (who spent over an hour with me in 2007 explaining what the Skagway police department would do if a teenage girl was reported missing) long ago gave up hope that this book would ever be published.
And even though I’ve kept in touch with National Park Service Ranger Jacqueline Lott Ashwell, who helped me with the parts of the story that take place in the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, she has undoubtedly wondered if this story would actually ever become a book.
My thanks go to Sergeant Cox and Ranger Ashwell for their help, and also to my friends, Ardyce and David Curl, who were National Park volunteers in 2007 when the cruise ship my husband and I were on stopped in Skagway. They drove us all around Skagway and Dyea and later fact checked my story.
The idea for ECHOES OF TERROR came to me after I watched a TV interview with Elizabeth Smart, given a few years after her rescue. She seemed very poised, but I wondered how what had happened to her would affect the rest of her life. That was when my protagonist Katherine Ward came into being. From that point on, I needed to build Katherine’s world, past and present, as well as her kidnapper’s. What would she be doing seventeen years later, and how would she react if he came back into her life?
ECHOES OF TERROR begins when sixteen-year-old, Misty Morgan, picks Skagway, Alaska as the spot to leave the cruise ship she’s been on with her stepmother to run off with a college boy. Misty’s motive is adventure and to get the attention of her ultra-busy, billionaire father. When the stepmother reports Misty missing, Skagway’s only female police officer, Katherine Ward, is assigned the case. Within hours, the college boy is found dead, another teenager is missing, and Katherine realizes the man who kidnapped her seventeen years ago—who should be in a mental hospital in Michigan—is in Skagway.
Why Skagway as a setting? Well, for one reason, I’d always wanted to visit Alaska, and this presented a great opportunity. Also, I knew my friends Ardyce and Dave could help me with the details of the setting. And, finally, Skagway’s small town, almost isolated, tourist location created a perfect backdrop.
What amazed (and distressed) me as I wrote this story is how many other women (and boys) I have heard about who have been found after being kidnapped, sexually abused, and held for long periods of time (sometimes almost under the eyes of others). Even now I wonder how those victims are coping with life after rescue. But those are stories for others to tell.
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ECHOES OF TERROR is not a sweet romance, though there is a touch of romance in the story. I tried not to make it too violent, but it is a story of violence. I hope those who have enjoyed my other romances and mysteries will also enjoy this book, but it will be different.