Yesterday we were introduced to Laurel Bradley, her life, and her family - a rocket scientist son in the bunch, no less - but now it's time to learn more about the inspiration behind Trust No One and how it was developed.
1. What was your inspiration for "Trust No One?" The theme of true love lasting through adversity was the inspiration for the book. “Trust No One” is a suspense, not a romance, but that doesn’t stop me from believing that love is a decision, a decision that requires work and is worth all the work it requires.
2. In Taylor's eyes, life is perfect. Would you characterize Taylor as naive for not suspecting the secrets, or was her husband, Phil, that good at hiding that no one would have known? Taylor is an ordinary woman who expects ordinary things from her husband. She doesn’t suspect the secrets because it never occurs to her that she needs to. The signs were extremely subtle. Even if she knew what to look for, she probably wouldn’t have seen it. And she had no reason to look. Who among us looks at our life and our loving spouse and thinks he or she is up to something nefarious? Not me. And not Taylor. When the book starts, life is pretty perfect for her. She’s happily married. Both her husband’s business and hers are doing well. It’s a gorgeous day. They are thinking of starting a family. She’s not naïve. She’s living the dream. And then…
3. After an explosion at her house, Taylor is thrown into a completely unknown world. How did you balance her being scared and unfamiliar with her being smart enough to stay alive? That took some work. There’s a learning curve involved in anything, and hiding isn’t as easy as it seems. We are so connected to the grid—our cell phones have GPS, we rely on debit cards or credit cards instead of cash, there are cameras on buildings and machines that monitor our movements. We are constantly being data-mined—facebook, free email accounts, Bluetooth devices... It’s a bit disconcerting when you think about it. Taylor makes mistakes, but she figures out what to do and not to do fairly quickly. There are moments when she delves into sorrow, but she never gave into despair.
4. Agent Cochran ends up in charge of protecting Taylor. Can you tell us a little about his character? Mark Cochran is a strong, reliable guy who wants to believe that people are good, but his work experience has not helped in that department. FBI agents don’t tend to see the best of society or the most healthy interpersonal relationships. So, he admires the faith Taylor has in Phil but thinks she is misguided in her belief. Nevertheless, he would like someone to believe that firmly in him and love him in that way. He finds those qualities attractive and that made it a struggle for him to maintain an appropriate professional distance from Taylor. But he’s a really good guy with a lot of integrity, so he didn’t even flirt with line much less cross it. I like him so much I’ve been pondering what happens to him post “Trust No One.” I’m not certain yet, but we may see him again in the future.
5. Through most of the book Phil is absent, or at least absent in Taylor's mind. How did you determine when to bring him back into the story? Since something big took him away, either that thing needed to be resolved or something else big had to be about to happen in order for him to return. Since he and Taylor needed to work on some things together if there was any chance of their marriage surviving, it was clear that he needed to be brought back when he was. Their first few scenes back together were tricky. Those scenes received several rewrites before I got them where I wanted them.
6. The other side to this story relates to Accawi, a man bent on revenge. Did you plan out each step he took in advance, or let the story work itself out? This is a plotter vs pantser question. A pantser being someone who flies by the seat of their pants. Pantser describes my writing style. I’d truly love to have a plotter personality, but I don’t. Therefore, I let the story work itself out. Which means…(looks left and right to make certain no one is listening). Okay, trade secret here. Sometimes authors back-write. Yes, it’s true. Sometimes authors go back into a story and insert snippets of information (and sometimes entire scenes) to explain why a character did something. Accawi had a bit of that going on. I knew what he was doing and a little bit of the why, but the full details got added later as Accawi developed as a character.
7. Can you tell us about any research you did for this book? As far as formal research goes, I took Rae Monet’s FBI class. Anything I got right, I thank her for. All the mistakes are mine. I did some fact checking on-line when I had questions about location details. Most of the rest was more informal research. When I crawled through storm sewers as a college student (not something I recommend), I never imagined I’d use that experience in a book. The arachnophobia, claustrophobia, belief in love and coffee addiction are things I share with Taylor.
8. Who are your favorite authors? I am extremely eclectic when it comes to reading. I like Jennifer Cruise, Mary Stewart, G.K. Chesterton, Harlan Coben, Julia Quinn, Diana Gabaldon, and Ken Follet, to name a few.
9. Do you have any interesting habits or rituals when you write? Not really. I need silence and coffee. The quiet is easier to come by since only one of my five children still lives at home. The coffee continues to remain elusive. I start the day with a huge steaming mug and then spend the rest of the day wondering why my coffee cup is either empty or hiding in the microwave.
There is one little quirk, but it has more to do with inspiration than writing rituals. I’ve heard that some authors jump up to write when inspiration hits them. If I get an idea when it isn’t time to write, I acknowledge the idea and tell it to wait. Later, when I’m ready to write, I call up the idea and develop it. I’ve found that actively thinking about an idea when I don’t have time to write seems to use up the idea. Then, when I do have time to write, it isn’t there. So…I tell it to wait. This has worked very well for me, but I am told by other authors that it is unusual.
10. Can you tell us about any other books or projects you are working on? At the moment, I’m in the editing process with another title to be published by Storyteller Publishing January, 8, 2013. “For the Love of David” is the story about what happens when the college student who abandoned her baby finds the woman who rescued it and steals the infant back. “For the Love of David” is women's fiction set in 1980 Wisconsin. The plot was inspired by a story I heard on the radio years ago where a woman found a newborn in a bag outside the bank where she worked. She, of course, turned it over to the authorities. But I couldn't help wondering: what if?
I’m also doing rewrites on a suspense that takes place in the Congo in the early 1960’s. It’s about a CDC doctor who is kidnapped to work on a hemorrhagic virus that has wiped out entire villages.
Thank you to Laurel for answering my questions!
You can learn more about Laurel and her books on her website. And don't forget to stop by and check out Laurel's other book as well: A Wish in Time, Crème Brulee Upset, and For the Love of David
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