What inspires you to write and why? Writing is how I make sense of my world. Things that stress me out or confuse me or keep me up at night—if I can write about them in some way, it makes things better.
What genre are you most comfortable writing? Crime fiction.
What inspired you to write your first book? The Jacob Wetterling case in Minnesota. Jacob was the same age as me when he was abducted by a masked gunman. I remember the news coverage of his disappearance and the feeling like wow, that could be me. It was very scary. I never stopped wondering what happened to him.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began? My very early influences were Dean Koontz, Tami Hoag and Lisa Jackson. Other crime authors that I aspire to be like in some way are Karin Slaughter, Gillian Flynn, Gregg Hurwitz, Greg Iles, John Hart, Dennis Lehane.
Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? I try to think of the most ridiculous idea for a story and then actually try to write as badly as I can. That usually loosens things up. Also Ray Bradbury once said that if you were stuck, you should have a man come into the room holding a gun. So if I’m really stuck, in the very next scene I will do either that or something equally as shocking and see where it goes. Most importantly, I promise myself that I don’t have to use anything that I write. I reserve the right to trash every single word. But I have to write something. Once you give yourself permission like that, you’d be surprised how much easier it is to get writing again.
How did you come up with the title? Finding Claire Fletcher was so obvious since the book was about a missing girl and a detective trying to actually find her. I really tried naming it something else but nothing else that I could think of fit as well or sounded as good as Finding Claire Fletcher. I think the 2 Fs in it helped. Then as the story developed, it seemed more and more fitting since Claire is kind of searching for herself in the story as well.
Can you tell us about your main character? Well Claire Fletcher was a regular old 15 year old girl on her way to school one day when a man knocked her out and abducted her. When we meet her, she’s been his captive for ten years. At this pint she has some freedom, but she is still very much under the control of her captor. She has resigned herself to her ugly fate, but there is a part of her that still yearns for freedom. That last little sliver of the old Claire Fletcher is buried deep though, and it’s a tough journey for her to reach down and capture it.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Well now that so many children have been recovered like Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard, Shawn Hornbeck and just recently the three missing Cleveland women were recovered, I would say the same thing that Shawn Hornbeck said, “If you see something, say something.” Also, try to be sensitive to people who have been recovered from these horrific situations. The trauma they’ve been through is beyond anything we can imagine. Questioning their choices during their captivity is not constructive.
How much of the book is realistic? I think a great deal of it, especially now that this same story has played out in real life a half dozen times since I wrote it. The similarities to my book and the most recent Cleveland story are quite chilling, actually. When that story broke and the public was given the very few details that authorities are choosing to release at that time, I got easily 100 messages from people who had read my book saying they couldn’t believe how eerily similar it was. I wish this was only the stuff of fiction but unfortunately we live in a world with some very, very sick and depraved people.
Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? I actually try not to—not specifically—I do try to include qualities that people have but not specific people. I would worry too much about legal issues to do that. But there is one character in Finding Claire Fletcher that at least 3 people have asked if I based her on my mom. I totally didn’t but I think it’s funny that people think that. I will include certain things that are from my own life. Like Brianna and Claire eating brownies and watching the movie, The Cutting Edge when they’re down—my cousin who is also my best friend used to do that. Brownies are very therapeutic.
Genre – Psychological Thriller / Crime Fiction
Rating – R