Monday, May 23, 2011

PICTURE OF LIES - Keegan Thomas

While PICTURE OF LIES was in development, I put a lot of thought into my main character, Keegan Thomas. The journey on which I planned to send her required a certain temperment and personality as I wasn't going to make things easy for her. She needed to have a good amount of courage and perserverence despite some personal character flaws that could easily paralyze someone into inaction.

As an investigative reporter, her goal in the story is to find people in a fifty-year-old photograph, and discover the whereabouts of a little Navajo girl, now an adult, who was kidnapped by missionaries and never returned. Can you imagine the determination required to do this? It's what she finds out during her inquiries that really tests her mettle. So I had to make her extremely extroverted, driven, and aggressive when it came to things she felt strongly about.

And what I like about her most is that she is able to do her job despite the terrible pain she feels over losing her own child. In her mind, she's to blame her child went missing. She feels responsible, feels that if she'd been a better mother, it would not have happened. After all, she was right there on that same foggy beach .

The stress of keeping it together manifests itself in some mild OCD behaviors. In the throes of anger or stress, Keegan finds herself compulsively counting things - the number of people in the restaurant, the number of black cars that go through a certain intersection before the light turns red, the number of uprights in a wrought iron fence. This quirk does not get in her way. Strangely, it helps her focus so she can move forward. She really needs that focus later when she finds herself stranded in the wilderness, and again at the end of the book when she's at the wrong end of a gun.

Have I modeled this character after myself? Well, maybe, but it's a better, stronger, prettier, taller, thinner, more inquisitive, impulsive, and courageous version of me. Oh, and younger.

The story thread about the missing Navajo child kidnapped by missionaries was inspired by a true event. The real kidnapped child was found and reunited with his natural family while I lived on the Navajo Indian Reservation as a VISTA volunteer.

And if you notice the acknowledgement at the front of the book to Two Spirits - that's true, too. Watch Independent Lens on PBS on June 14 for the real story.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

PICTURE OF LIES October 2011 Release

Adance Review copies of my new book, PICTURE OF LIES, went out last week. I love this book and hope you all do, too. The story returns to Monument Valley on the Navajo Indian Reservation where THE CHARMSTONE was set. Different characters, but same locale. Readers who were swept away to Monument Valley while reading THE CHARMSTONE may experience the same journey while reading PICTURE OF LIES. I hope so. I certainly was.

Investigative journalist Keegan Thomas travels to Monument Valley seeking people who appear with her grandfather in an old photograph that was found in his belongings after his death. A string of mysteries evolve from that including the search for an Indian child she is told was kidnapped by missionaries and taken to a boarding school, but never returned. This is especially heartbreaking for her as she's been living a nightmare of guilt and grief since her own little girl, Daisy, was kidnapped practically in front of her eyes.

Her courage and persistence uncover a web of deception that stretches back two generations, and the truth she learns about her own family is the most shocking betrayal of all. Nothing can prepare her for the danger she encounters when she becomes the target of a powerful U.S. senator who will do anything to stop her from telling what she finds out about the people in the picture and what they were up to. Some of the events in the story were inspired by my experiences and the stories I heard while I lived in Monument Valley as a VISTA volunteer.

The next book is already churning around in my head. It's called THE MISSING GIRL, and continues some of the story questions presented in PICTURE OF LIES. You'll see at the end of PICTURE OF LIES where I might be going with that.