Recently, I was trying to explain to someone that I wrote my latest novel, Missing Persons, in ten weeks. It is, by far, the fastest I have ever written a book, and considering it’s also my longest novel, at just over 85,000 words, it’s a pretty mean feat. The best explanation I could come up with for how it happened so fast is that I vomited this novel. Nice image, huh.
But that’s, more or less, what it felt like. This book, its characters, its story… all came to me fully formed. I often woke up in the middle of the night with a scene so clear in my head that it was easier to turn on my computer and write the pages then try to go back to sleep. I wrote for ten or twelve hours on some days, spending more time with fictional people than with real ones. But I had no choice. My main character, Kate Conway, would just not go away until I told her story. Who knew imaginary people could be so insistent?
Part of the speed was certainly because I’d been kicking around two ideas for a while. One was about a TV producer of a true crime show. My day job is as a TV producer and I know from personal experience that you meet a lot of nutty people in that job, so it seemed ripe for a mystery series. I had this idea for a missing nursing student, a seemingly perfect young woman who might have had a lot of secrets. Exploiting those secrets would make for great TV but would hurt the family, and Kate would be stuck between her instincts as a producer, and her humanity.
The other idea was about a woman in the middle of a divorce when her about-to-be-ex-husband dies. This, thankfully, is not based on any real life experience, but on an observation I made one day. When a marriage, or any relationship, ends, there is a tendency to focus only on the bad about a person. But when someone dies, there is a tendency to focus only on the good. It seemed a great place to start a character, someone in the middle of hating her husband, when his death shifts the narrative and forces her to confront her own mixed feelings about her marriage.
When I put these two ideas together, I realized I had something. As a TV producer your job is often about manipulating emotion, but it’s hard to do when your own life is an emotional roller coaster. Kate is sarcastic and often dislikes being too involved with people, so to pump up the emotion even more, I added her opposite. A kind, friendly woman named Vera, who happens to be Kate’s late husband’s mistress.
With all that going on, I knew immediately where it was going. I knew how the television show would work out, I knew what had happened to the missing woman, and I knew exactly what that final moment in the book would be. It was as if I knew Kate and Vera, and all the others in the book. At that point is was about getting the scenes written as fast I could type, so Kate would let me get some sleep. With that kind of pressure, and a growing exhaustion, it’s almost surprising it took so long to write.
The debut of an exciting new mystery series featuring a sarcastic television producer turned amateur sleuth.
The cause of death is "undetermined," but the cops peg Chicago television producer Kate Conway as the main suspect when her soon-to-be ex-husband, Frank, is found dead. To make matters worse-and weirder- Frank's new girlfriend suddenly wants to be friends.
Happy for the distraction, Kate throws herself into a new work assignment for the television program Missing Persons: the story of Theresa Moretti, a seemingly angelic young woman who disappeared a year earlier. All Kate wants is a cliché story and twenty-two minutes of footage, but when the two cases appear to overlap, Kate needs to work fast before another body turns up-her own.
Reviewed by Christine:
I really enjoyed the sit on the edge of your seat style about this book. It is as if you are reading two mysteries in one! In the beginning of the book it is as if Kate Conway is a cold hearted TV producer. Keep reading and you will never guess how this turns out until the very end. This is defiantly a book that I could not put down. I would recommend this book to anyone who would listen.