Q: Henry, the dog, has a major role in “She Can Run,” from helping young Katie settle into her new life to protecting Beth from danger. I think he came close to stealing the thunder from Jake and Beth. Can you tell us a bit about how you created him and how he became so important to the story?
A: Henry wrote himself. He started out as a sidekick for Jack and grew into an actual character. Dogs have a special bond with humanity. They have important roles in military, police, and rescue organizations. Dogs sense things that humans can’t, and they serve us with inexplicable loyalty. Our collie lets us know someone is outside the house long before the doorbell rings. When my daughter was recently recovering from a serious illness, our spaniel mix was by her side for days. So, I suppose my personal experiences with dogs helped Henry develop into more than just a dog in SHE CAN RUN. Without a single line of dialogue, Henry became a full-fledged character, complete with his own character arc.
Q: You have a paranormal release with author Rayna Vause coming from Carina Press in January. Is there anything you would like to tell readers about this book?
A: Co-authoring this book was a blast. Writing is usually such a solitary endeavor that brainstorming and writing with Rayna was pure fun. We plotted it to pass the time during a carpool to a monthly meeting of Liberty States Fiction Writers. The story was shockingly good, and we decided to give the co-writing thing a try. The AMAZON HEAT is a lighter story than my romantic suspense novels. Archeologist Logan Spencer is kidnapped by a secret and deadly tribe of female warriors while searching the jungle for his missing lover, ethnobotanist Elizabeth DeMarco, who disappeared on a research expedition two years before.
Q: One of the things that impressed Jennifer the most about “She Can Run” is your portrayal of Beth, Ben and Katie as victims of domestic abuse. Their fear was realistic and heartbreaking. How difficult was it to write this aspect of the story?
A: Ironically, this has also been one of the harshest criticisms of the book. Many people feel that domestic abuse is an “old” topic, but it’s very much a real and current issue. The US Department of Justice estimated that 1.3 million women are victims of domestic violence each year. There are many misconceptions about abuse victims. Domestic violence transcends socio-economics. Women of all races and income levels are victimized. Once a woman is caught in an abusive relationship, extricating herself isn’t a simple matter of walking out the door. Half of all protections orders granted are violated, and one-third of female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners. Victims can get help through the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Information is also available on TheHotline.org, but be aware that computer usage can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear Women seeking assistance should be sure to access the website via a safe computer.
Q: One of the hallmarks of romantic suspense these days is some serious evil bad guys. Both the serial killer and the ex-husband are psychotic. How did you write such fearsome characters?
A: This is a tough question to answer. I sometimes joke that writing the villains is way too easy for me. I’m not sure where my dark side originates. I do enjoy horror and read lots of Stephen King in high school. When I write my villains, I try to give them as complete a backstory as the rest of the characters. Making the bad guys three dimensional is an important component to their character development. They need to be as realistic as the hero and heroine.
Q: After your upcoming paranormal release, what is up next for you?
A: I’m currently working on a story that is loosely connected to SHE CAN RUN. It’s set in the same small town. The local police chief is investigating a 25 year old murder while protecting a beautiful horse trainer with a relentless and vicious stalker.
I’ve enjoyed being interviewed on Romance Novel News. Thanks so much for the opportunity.
Readers can find out more about me at my website, MelindaLeighAuthor.com.
To learn more about "She Can Run," check out RNN's review.