Once in a while, a character comes so alive so quickly and with such an edge that I almost feel as if I’ve actually met this person. It often follows that if the character has such an edge, the story moves like an express train, because a character with an edge has surprises up his or her sleeve that I can’t foresee but that I’m delighted to discover in one twist after another.
When I started THE SILENT CORNER, I didn’t know what a rocket-propelled roller coaster I had just boarded. Jane Hawk, the lead of the story, is an FBI agent on leave, who quickly becomes an FBI agent gone rogue——at least in the eyes of the agency. She is 27, incredibly tough, wonderfully smart, and surprisingly tender. The story involves no supernatural element, but it has what I’d call a scientific premise in the Michael Crichton tradition, something that is not futuristic but here now in an early form with a terrible potential. While I knew that the premise would provide for a scary and exciting story, I didn’t realize just how scary and exciting until I began to explore it fully in THE SILENT CORNER.
When Jane becomes the most wanted fugitive in the country, which she is as the story opens, she is not able to use planes, trains, or buses because the security cameras in those venues can be so easily married to facial-recognition software. She cannot drive a vehicle with a GPS, have a laptop, or use a smartphone. She is so intensely hunted that she must be off the grid in a way that no one ever is——not even those very committed preppers of reality-TV fame——and yet must be able to use the Internet and travel freely and get at a series of well-protected people to wring them dry of what information they have. And she must be willing to do and endure whatever it takes to survive.
I had so much fun with Jane that I knew at the end of THE SILENT CORNER that I had only begun to peel the layers of this fascinating character. I have now finished the second book with her, THE WHISPERING ROOM, and I had even more fun with this one. What Jane has to face this time is beyond daunting, beyond just terrifying, and had me anxiety breathing through the last half of the book. Elsa, our dog, had to calm me by giving me belly rubs, a rather embarrassing role reversal.
I will have finished a third Jane Hawk before the first is published in June 2017, and I feel renewed as a writer, as frisky as ever I was when I was much younger. (And I was pretty darn frisky. In fact, I once won the Friskiest Writer of the Year Award three years running.) Anyway, I owe this new friskiness to you, faithful readers, because your continued support and snail mail (all of which I read, though I can’t read all the email because of the volume) energizes and motivates me.
From the heart of Koontzland,