Thanks so much for your continued support. I hope you enjoy the new book, and, as always, please consider leaving an Amazon review!
Just a quick note to let you know that FIND ME comes out July 1. But did you know it’s currently free to members of Amazon Prime Reading? Prime readers also have the option to purchase at a discount. Not a member of Prime Reading? Consider pre-ordering your copy!
ABOUT THE BOOK
A bone-chilling family history is unearthed in a heart-stopping thriller by New York Times bestselling author Anne Frasier.
Convicted serial killer Benjamin Fisher has finally offered to lead San Bernardino detective Daniel Ellis to the isolated graves of his victims. One catch: he’ll only do it if FBI profiler Reni Fisher, his estranged daughter, accompanies them. As hard as it is to exhume her traumatic childhood, Reni can’t say no. She still feels complicit in her father’s crimes.
Perfect to play a lost little girl, Reni was the bait to lure unsuspecting women to their deaths. It’s time for closure. For her. For the families. And for Daniel. He shares Reni’s obsession with the past. Ever since he was a boy, he’s been convinced that his mother was one of Fisher’s victims.
Thirty years of bad memories are flooding back. A master manipulator has gained their trust. For Reni and Daniel, this isn’t the end of a nightmare. It’s only the beginning.
From Anne’s editor: We all have family secrets. A relative who jumped ship rather than go to war. A family heirloom won in an illegal poker game. A secret relationship with a forbidden love. But in Anne Frasier’s Find Me, Reni Fisher has a much darker family secret: her father is the notorious Inland Empire Killer…and he used her as bait to lure his victims to their deaths.
Reni was only a child during the incidents, but she still carries the guilt. If only she could have stopped him or helped the victims. If only she could provide those families with closure now. But her father has never revealed the locations of all the bodies—not even when Reni herself worked as an FBI profiler.
Detective Daniel Ellis has made the Inland Empire Killer his life’s work—his own family secret the motivation for his investigation. Now the killer has promised to show Daniel where all the bodies are buried…under one condition: Reni must come with them.
Family secrets have been the pillars of much of Anne Frasier’s fiction. In fact, a dark and horrible secret was at the center of her 2017 Thriller Award–winning novel, The Body Reader. But Anne has upped the ante here, delving not only into the dark corners of secrets but also how these secrets affect those who live with them.
What family secrets are you hiding from?
– Jessica Tribble Wells, Editor
Thanks so much for your continued support. I hope you enjoy the new book, and, as always, please consider leaving an Amazon review!
I’ve been getting a lot of emails from readers who want to know if there will be more Sandburg and Fontaine books, so I thought I’d address that question here. At this time I don’t have any Sandburg or Fontaine books planned. BUT that doesn’t mean there will never be more!
I just turned in a single title that will be released in about a year. It’s a little early to share details, but I’ll start talking about it more as the release date approaches.
Thanks for your continued support!
From a New York Times bestselling author comes the chilling follow-up to the Thriller Award winner The Body Reader.
Months after discovering the mastermind behind her own kidnapping, Detective Jude Fontaine is dealing with the past the only way she knows how: by returning to every dark corner of it. But it’s a new, escalating series of mass slayings that has become her latest obsession at Homicide.
At first, Jude and her partner, Detective Uriah Ashby, can see no pattern to the seemingly random methods, the crime scenes, or the victims—until they’re approached by a brilliantly compulsive math professor. He believes that the madman’s next move is not incalculable; in fact, it’s all part of a sequential and ingenious numerical riddle. His theory is adding up. The body count is rising.
But when the latest victim is found in Jude’s apartment, the puzzle comes with a personal twist that’s going to test the breaking point of her already-fragile state of mind. For all she knows, her number may be up.
What readers are saying:
“The second installment in the Jude Fontaine series is just as engaging, dark, and twisty as the first one.”
“A page turner from start to finish.”
“The Body Counter continues to lead us through the dark dysfunctional lives of Detectives Jude Fontaine and Uriah Ashby as they race to solve soulless murders, while battling their own personal demons. As always, the main story has a perfect ending….and the side notes leave me begging for another in this series.”
“Another page turner from this master. Jude Fontaine is at it again, figuring out a most mathematical serial killer. You won’t put it down once you get started.”
“This book was better than book one, and I loved book one.”
“As the violence ramps up so does the adrenaline that keeps you on the edge of your seat.High octane and chilling the story unfolds sometimes unexpectedly and definitely twisted for an easily addicting series.”
“Jude is a unique character that is strong yet weak, emotional without being outwardly emotional, and overall complex. I highly recommend reading the first book before delving into this one just to get a grip on Jude and who she is.”
New to the series?
You might want to check out the first book in the Jude Fontaine Mystery Series, The Body Reader, 2017 International Thriller Writer Award winner for Best Paperback Original Novel.
For three years, Detective Jude Fontaine was kept from the outside world. Held in an underground cell, her only contact was with her sadistic captor, and reading his face was her entire existence. Learning his every line, every movement, and every flicker of thought is what kept her alive.
After her experience with isolation and torture, she is left with a fierce desire for justice—and a heightened ability to interpret the body language of both the living and the dead. Despite colleagues’ doubts about her mental state, she resumes her role at Homicide. Her new partner, Detective Uriah Ashby, doesn’t trust her sanity, and he has a story of his own he’d rather keep hidden. But a killer is on the loose, murdering young women, so the detectives have no choice: they must work together to catch the madman before he strikes again. And no one knows madmen like Jude Fontaine.
Once again, thank you for your continued support! I hope you enjoy the new book, and, as always, please consider leaving an Amazon review.
I’ve been trying to get the rights back to this book forever. Doesn’t look like it will happen, BUT I retained the rights to publish the book outside the U.S. and Canada, so that’s what I’m doing.
Please note: Due to publishing rights and restrictions, this edition of The Orchard is not available for purchase in the USA or Canada. You will NOT be able to leave a review on Amazon. com. Please leave reviews on Amazon.co. uk, Amazon.com.au, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, etc.
“Not since Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres has there been so
enrapturing a family drama percolating out from the back forty.”
About the book: In her critically acclaimed memoir, Anne Frasier shares the deeply moving and personal story of her years on an apple farm. The Orchard is the story of a street-smart city girl who must adapt to a new life on an apple farm after she falls for the golden boy of a prominent local family whose lives and orchards seem to be cursed. Married after only three months, the young writer finds life on the farm far more difficult and dangerous than she expected. Rejected by her husband’s family as an outsider, she slowly learns for herself about the isolated world of farming, environmental destruction, and death, even as she falls more deeply in love with her husband, a man she at first hardly knew. When the increasingly dangerous chemicals used on farms begin to take a toll on the land and the people who tend it, the couple’s fragile love will be tested as they right to defend ground that has been in his family for generations. An unforgettable story of struggle, resilience, and love in the American heartland, The Orchard will change the way you think about farmers and family.
Cover art by Martha M. Weir
Nicholas Sparks: “The Orchard is a lovely book in all the ways that really matter, one of those rare and wonderful memoirs in which people you’ve never met become your friends. I read it in a single sitting, lost in the story, and by the time I put it down, I was amazed by the author’s ability to evoke such genuine emotion. Read it: you’ll be glad you did.
“A hypnotic tale of place, people, and of Midwestern family roots that run deep, stubbornly hidden, and equally menacing–The Orchard is sublime and enchanting.” –Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
Librarians’ Best Books of the Year: “While reading this extraordinarily moving memoir, I kept remembering the last two lines of Muriel Rukeyser’s poem “Kathe Kollwitz” (“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open”), for [Frasier] proffers a worldview that is at once eloquent, sincere, and searing.
“Library JournaI: “Eerie and atmospheric, this is an indie movie in print. You’ll read and read to see where it is going, although it’s clear early on that the future is not going to be kind to anyone involved. [Frasier’s] story is more proof that only love can break your heart.”
O, The Oprah Magazine Fall Read: “This poignant memoir of love, labor, and dangerous pesticides reveals the terrible true price.”
B+ Featured Review in Entertainment Weekly: “…equal parts moving love story and environmental warning.”
Macleans.ca: “…a gripping account of divided loyalties, the real cost of farming and the shattered people on the front lines. Not since Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres has there been so enrapturing a family drama percolating out from the back forty.
“Roanoke Times: “A poignant and merciless memoir that portrays a pivotal moment in American farming…Her prose is efficient and, in very few words, evokes feelings that linger long after the book is finished.”
Publishers Lunch: “This memoir is viscera encapsulated, of young, passionate love and shattering tragedy around the corner, of a horrible childhood redeemed by motherhood and literary output in secret, of not fitting in until you make everything fit you… One of the favorite books of the year.”
BookPage: “A finely wrought story… In such unforgiving soil, [Frasier’s] growth over the years is remarkable. She raises two children, nurtures her marriage and comes into her own as a writer. Her journey, at times lonely and sad, is ultimately triumphant. Readers will be glad she found a home for this brave book.”
This title was previously published exclusively in United States and Canada by Grand Central Publishing (The Orchard, a memoir, by Theresa Weir). It’s now being made available to readers outside those regions.
I’ve been at this writing thing for over thirty years. For the most part I’ve toiled in obscurity, keeping my head down while simply hoping my stories entertain people for a few hours. And yet…there’s always the dream that the next one will be THE book—the breakout everybody talks about. I suspect that’s what keeps a lot of us going. The compelling hope for a hit and recognition. I’m here. This is my life’s work. Did it touch you in some way? Am I still learning and still growing? Is every book better than the last? These are the things I strive for.
When I got the news that The Body Reader was a finalist for Best Original Paperback, I was thrilled, but imposter syndrome soon kicked in and I told myself no chance in hell would I win. But I was happy to make it that far, happy to be recognized. I know everybody says that, but in my case it was true! And I knew finalist was as far as this would go. But my publishing house talked me into traveling to NYC for the International Thriller Writers Conference, and editors took me and my daughter to a broadway musical. THIS IS NOT NORMAL! I’ve written for almost every publishing house in NYC, and THIS IS NOT NORMAL.
And then the banquet came along and the really weird stuff happened.
The Body Reader won Best Original Paperback.
I’m not kidding!
I want give a big and humble thanks to International Thriller Writers for the award and recognition, and a big thanks to Amazon Publishing for giving writers freedom and control over their own material. I’ve been with the Amazon imprint Thomas & Mercer for several years, and have worked with many wonderful people. Never once in all that time has anybody told me what to write or how to write it. That’s rare, and that’s empowering.
Truly Dead, the fourth book in the Elise Sandburg series, is now available!
About the new release:
In award-winning author Anne Frasier’s riveting thriller Truly Dead, homicide detective Elise Sandburg returns to Savannah with her partner, profiler David Gould, to track a killer who seems eerily familiar.
When a demolition crew uncovers several bodies inside the walls of a house where serial killer Frank J. Remy once lived, the discovery sends shock waves through the Savannah Police Department. All of the bodies were hidden before Remy’s imprisonment and subsequent death thirty-six years earlier—except for one belonging to a missing child.
Homicide partners Elise Sandburg and David Gould were the Savannah PD’s dream team, solving uncrackable crimes and catching killers. But their last case resulted in their termination from the squad, until the coroner calls them back to consult, unofficially, on a body found in the wall of a house once occupied by Remy, a killer Elise’s own father sent to jail—a killer who died in prison. The MO seems uncomfortably similar to that of a serial killer wreaking havoc in Florida.
Does Elise have a copycat on her hands? Is Remy’s influence reaching from beyond the grave? Or is Elise making connections where there are none? When her father warns her to back off the case, Elise’s shadowy family history threatens to swallow her once again. But whatever force is at work, she won’t rest until the killing stops.
Now at odds with everyone she cares about and forced to acknowledge her worsening emotional state, Elise struggles to protect the people she loves as the body count rises.
In other news, The Body Reader has been nominated for the Thriller Award for best paperback original by International Thriller Writers. Winner to be announced in July. And The Body Reader has been optioned for a TV series! That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. It just means a director is interested, has written a pilot script, and hopes to sell the series to TV.
A lot of people have asked if there will be another Body Reader book. Yes. I’m working on it right now. I’m a slow writer, so it probably won’t be out for about a year. That’s pretty much my speed. A book a year.
So anyway, I hope you enjoy Truly Dead. I love writing about Elise, David, Strata Luna, Jackson Sweet, and John Casper. If you’re a Body Reader fan and are reluctant to step into the Elise Sandburg world, consider giving it a shot. The books have been tricky to market because they might appear to be paranormal, but they are really police procedurals, just like The Body Reader.
As always, thanks for reading!
Several years ago I applied to stay at Mermaid Cottages on Tybee Island, Georgia, in exchange for a short story to be published in a print anthology that would feature Mermaid Cottages. I turned my story in, but never heard back. Emails went unanswered and as far as I know the short-story anthology was never published. I feel bad about that because I was able to stay in a beautiful place for several days — for free. It took place so long ago that I don’t even remember who was behind the anthology. Someone from Savannah, I believe.
I was recently reminded of my story when a librarian contacted me. One of her patrons had requested the print version. “Is it available?”
There is no print version, only digital, so I decided to stick it up here in case anybody wants to read it. I know this isn’t the best way to read a story. I personally hate to read stories posted to blogs. My eyes! But here it is for the brave souls out there. This might be classified as a contemporary fantasy. Or not. Also, some formatting (indents!) is lost when you cut-and-paste to WordPress, so enter at your own risk…
© Anne Frasier/Theresa Weir
The mermaids come out at night. Nobody really knows why, but Tybee Island seems to be a hotbed for them, and people have taken to parking along the dunes with their headlights on, drinking and watching the half fish, half humans come crawling out of the ocean. It’s the Tybee Island equivalent to dragging the strip.
And so begins the article I’m writing for The Turnip. Title? Something in the Water. Under any other circumstances I’d love this kind of nonsense. And my boss’s heart was in the right place when he sent me to Georgia.
“Get out of Minneapolis for a while, Charlotte,” he’d told me. “Go someplace warm.”
What he didn’t say was get away from everything that reminds you of your ex-boyfriend. Every street. Every restaurant. Every venue. Even those ridiculous Segways remind me of him because we laughed at them together.
Eight years. I wasted eight years of my life. Not his fault. But good God. Why did it take us so long to figure out we were a poor match?
I’m a funny person. In fact, I’m one of The Turnip’s best writers. But as I sit in a Tybee joint called Fannie’s on the Beach, waiting for the magical hour when the mermaids come walking out of the ocean, I’m just not feeling it.
“Like another beer?”
I look up from my laptop and the one paragraph I’ve managed to write. I smile and push my empty mug toward the server. “I’d love one.”
“Are you here for the mermaids?” she asks.
“Yeah.” I try not to roll my eyes. I don’t want to make fun of their little attempt to bring in business during January, the slowest month. And it does feel nice to be warm for a change. But, really. Mermaids? I guess it made more sense than aardvarks.
“Have you ever seen one?” I ask.
“No, but my brother did. And not just one. A gang of ‘em. Walked out of the water straight at him.”
At The Turnip, we play it straight. That’s how our humor works. That’s why it works. I can do this, I tell myself. “What did your brother do? When he saw them?”
“Pulled out his phone and started taking pictures.”
“Good for him.” Long ago I’d made a pact with myself—if I ever spotted Nessie or Big Foot, my camera would be put into action no matter the circumstances. I’ve practice whipping it out and taking photos—like a kid with a toy gun. “You saw them?” I ask.
“Yeah, but… well, they just looked like guys. Just like any other guys. I mean, they didn’t have tails or anything. Because when they hit the beach the tails turn into legs.”
R-i-ight. “Were they naked?”
“I don’t know.”
“Didn’t you say you saw the photos?”
“They were blurry. And it was dark. And his flash didn’t work.”
She brings me another beer.
And I begin to feel better. A lot better. I’ve never been much of a drinker, and I’d forgotten how nice a buzz can be. Why haven’t I been doing this for the past two weeks?
My drunken fingers fly over the keyboard, and I laugh at my wit. My boss will love it. But then he loves everything I write. And I secretly suspect he loves me, but I won’t go into that. It makes me sad. So many people out there in love with the wrong person. In love with someone who doesn’t love them back.
I check my phone and see it’s almost midnight. Oops. Gotta go. Gotta see the mermaids.
I leave a nice tip. I mean, a really nice tip. I was once a waitress, and I know how much serving jobs suck, and I know how the tips are everything. Some waitresses support their families pretty much on tips alone. I often tip twenty-five percent because it makes me feel good. And a couple of times, when I was feeling especially flush due to some extra freelance income, I left fifty bucks for one beer.
I close my laptop and slip it in my bag. It isn’t until I stand that I realize how freakin’ drunk I am. Wow. I look around for my coat, then remember I didn’t need one; I’m just wearing skinny jeans and a black top. I drape my messenger bag over one shoulder. It slips off like there’s nothing there to hang it on, so I put it over my head and across my chest. And then I walk straight for the door, my feet feeling mushy and heavy and light all at the same time.
As I walk, I begin this narrative in my head that describes how I feel. Outside, I wonder how I got to the bar, then I remember I rode a cute little blue bicycle with fat tires and a white basket on the front. I spot it. Right where I left it in the alley next to the ice machine. Didn’t even lock it down. I find myself close to tears when I think about all the honest people wandering around. Here I am, a woman alone, drunk, about to get on my bike and pedal back to the cottage where I’m staying.
My boss thought it would only be right to stay in a mermaid cottage.
I agree. My particular cottage, Marsh Mermaid, really isn’t a cottage at all, but a duplex located on Sixth Street, a few blocks from the ocean. I don’t know how I ended up with such a lavish place—two stories of tranquil, pale blue walls, a deck overlooking the marsh, and three bedrooms. Fancier than any home I’ve ever stayed in and an obvious accident, but I’m not complaining. I’ve been here less than twenty-four hours—long enough to seriously contemplate kissing Minnesota goodbye for good. Earlier I’d seen the sign at Fannie’s, so I know they need wait staff. Or maybe I can get a job at a local paper. Does Tybee have a local paper? I’m not sure about this. And If I move, what will I do with all of my black clothes?
I drop my messenger bag in the basket and straddle the bike. I think about pedaling to the water’s edge so I can pretend to see this phenomenon I’ve come to document. With clumsy movements, I shift the bike, turn it around so I’m facing the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s dark, and I can see the blur of moon behind the clouds, but light from Frannie’s illuminates the beach and reflects off the waves. It’s like an ugly and gorgeous painting. So many bad artists have tried to capture this very scene so that now, when I see it for real, it loses some of the magic because I’m thinking of the velvet painting that used to hang on the wall in my aunt’s beauty shop.
Somewhere in the dark is a sign that says NO BICYCLES. I pretend ignorance and take the wooden rampy thing that probably has a name I will discover if I move here. I’m pedaling fast now, before a cop spots me. And I think I can almost fly. At the end of the ramp my front tire hits soft sand and I do fly—over the handlebars, over my messenger bag with my computer and phone and camera. I think about the beer called Fat Tire, and I let out a yelp of surprise.
How do you like me now? I think, addressing the ex-boyfriend who is two-thousand miles away either sound asleep or partying or seducing some well-dressed, successful woman with a white Coach bag and turquoise necklace. I hurtle ungracefully through the air to finally land on damp, packed sand with a loud oof.
Yeah, I’m having the adventure of my life while you’re up there freezing your ass off in Minneapolis. Nanner, Nanner.
Or something to that effect. Not sure because I think I passed out.
Daniel heard them before he saw them. Talking. Plotting.
“Looking for mermaids.”
“Get her bag. Get her bag.”
“What about her?”
Daniel could hear their thoughts. Despicable thoughts. So, this was what his uncle had warned him about. The ways of humans. Of one-hundred percenters.
In his culture, women were revered, not brutalized.
Without thinking, he roared at them on legs that were surprisingly strong. When he reached the men, he grabbed them one at a time and tossed them aside, throwing them away from the woman. He felt like a superhero, and he was a superhero. But that thought didn’t stick, because the men he’d tossed aside didn’t remain tossed aside. They jumped to their feet and attacked him. They took him down. Their fists flew at his face, and their feet kicked him in the side.
The girl, the girl who’d been on the ground, came out of nowhere and jumped on a man’s back. She shrieked and poked her fingers in his eyes, and cussed like a fisherman. In the far distance, someone shouted. A cry for police. Sand flew, and the men ran like the cowards they were.
Daniel ran too.
The cowards who attacked me vanish. I turn to thank my rescuer and spot him running for the water. He’s thigh-deep when I catch up with him. I grab his arm, urging him back to dry land.
“Where are you going?” I shout, hoping to get through to him. He must be dazed and out of his mind.
He stops. He stumbles, then straightens.
Voices come from shore, and suddenly a bright spotlight illuminates his face. His head is bleeding. I can’t help but noticed how pale and how beautiful he is. Pale arms. Pale chest. Jeans riding low, weighted down by water. “You have to come back,” I tell him in a level voice that I hope won’t cause undo alarm. I stagger, then correct as a surge of water sucks the sand from under my feet.
He looks out at the depth of the ocean, then back at me. “I have to go home,” he says, and his brow furrows in confusion. His hair is black, and his eyes are a strange and wonderful green. He allows me to lead him to shore where people are gathering, drawn by the commotion. Some break away to help us.
“You’d better get that looked at,” the man with the spotlight says. His statement is met with nods and murmurs of agreement.
“Call 9-1-1,” I say. “He needs an ambulance.”
“No!” My rescuer jerks free of my grasp. His voice drops, as if he realizes he’s overreacted. “I don’t need a doctor.” This is now a whisper, for my ears alone. His chin is down, and he’s not looking at anyone.
“You’re head.” My voice holds a pleading quality. I wonder if I’m still drunk, but I don’t think I am. The adrenaline must have driven the alcohol right out of me.
“I’m fine,” he tells me.
“You should get yourself checked out, just to be sure,” the man with the spotlight says.
My rescuer leans close to me and whispers: “I don’t have insurance.”
I understand about no insurance.
“Can I call somebody for you?” I say.
“No. I don’t live around here. I’ll be okay.” As I watch, he wanders toward the street.
A cop shows up and gets some information. The entire thing takes all of two minutes. A woman has collected my bike and is standing beside it on the boardwalk. In the basket is my messenger bag. I thank her and mount the bike, grabbing both handlebars and pedaling in the direction my rescuer has gone.
I catch up with him outside Fannie’s where he’s leaning against the wall in the shadows. I wonder if he’s homeless.
“At least let me clean up your head,” I say. “And get you some dry clothes.”
“I’ll be fine.”
I try another strategy. “Well, then walk me home. Those guys could still be out there. They could be waiting for me.” In truth, I have the feeling the cowards are long gone.
He straightens and squares his shoulders, the hero again. “Okay.”
The cottage is quite a distance, and we walk with the bike between us. He touches the white handlebar grip nearest him. “I’d like to ride one of these sometime,” he says with an odd reverence. For some weird reason, I think about the cross-stitch my aunt used to have about a fish and a bicycle.
Inside the cottage, I make him sit at the kitchen counter. We’re both wet, with patches of sand here and there. “It’s not as bad as I thought,” I tell him once I’ve washed the blood from his head. A lump and a cut.
“Told you so.” He smiles, and my heart pounds.
We talk for hours, and I find out his name is Daniel. I once wrote a piece on past lives, and now, with the way I feel… It’s like I’ve known him forever. Always and always. Daniel and Charlotte.
My phone rings. It’s the ex. I don’t answer.
“Who was that?” my new friend asks.
I’m not the kind of person who sleeps with a guy on the first date. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s not me. So to find myself in bed with the man who rescued me…well, it’s like living a fairytale, and the sex part just seemed to happen. Just seemed the thing to do.
At some point, we both fall asleep. Deep into the night, a noise awakens me. An odd slapping sound, followed by a groan. I grope for a light, find it, and hit the switch.
And there he is.
On the floor. Thrashing and flopping.
Like a fish.
My camera is in the other room, so I reach for my phone, the way I’ve practiced so often. I snap away. At the same time, I’m horrified by my actions. He puts up a hand, palm out, like some celebrity warding off the paparazzi.
I blink, and the fish tail is gone. Gone. He’s just a naked man lying on the floor of Mermaid Cottage.
“Oh my God.” I shut off the light. “I’m SO SORRY! I must have been dreaming.” I’m babbling. In my mind’s eye, I can see the tail. How crazy. I’m mortified.
“Give me your camera.”
I shove it into his hand. The light from the screen illuminates his gorgeous, gorgeous face as he deletes the photos. Then he tosses the phone back to me, gets up, gets dressed, and leaves, slamming the door behind him. Just like that.
I throw on a T-shirt and shorts and follow him. It’s exactly six blocks to the ocean if you stay on Sixth Street. Which he does. He crosses Butler Ave, then takes the wooden walkway over the dunes. The path is arched, and I stop when I reach the highest point. To the right is the wooden swing where I sat…was that just yesterday? Where I took a picture of myself, dressed in my black winter clothes.
He’s walking to the ocean. I want to shout, I want to stop him. Instead, I watch. He pauses long enough to shuck his jeans, kick them aside, and continue walking. Then, never hesitating, he strides toward the reflection of the full moon on the water. As I watch, he steps into my aunt’s velvet painting.
Chest deep, he dives. He vanishes. Then a tail appears. A big, beautiful tail. Then he’s gone.
Back at Marsh Mermaid, I open my laptop and pull up my photos. My laptop and camera are synced—something the merman didn’t seem to know. They probably aren’t up on that stuff, living at the bottom of the ocean and all that.
But there they are. The photos I took of Daniel on the cottage floor.
His scales are the most beautiful shade of green, his tail a navy blue. These pictures could set me up for life. I would never have to work again. I could leave Minnesota. I could get a place on Tybee Island. I wouldn’t need that waitress job. I wouldn’t need to find out if Tybee had a newspaper.
I stare, memorizing Daniel’s beautiful face, his eyes, his hair. I think about the hours we spent together. He seemed so much like me. Just like me.
If I move to Tybee, will I see him again? I imagine myself growing old, standing at the water’s edge, waiting, watching for him to come back. Maybe he’ll come back before I get old. Maybe he’ll come back next month. Or next week.
I highlight the images… and hit “delete.” Later, once the world is awake, I’ll head to Fannie’s to fill out an application.
One more pass and it will be off to the publishing house. Tentative pub date is May 2017. I’ve written this as if could very well be the last Dead book. The series could continue, but it would be a good place to end if I decide to do so. I’m a slow writer and if I turn The Body Reader into a series and try to write both Sandburg and Body Reader…well, it would mean a new book per series every two years. I don’t think readers would be at all happy about that and might even drop them both. So I really need to make a decision between the two. Hate to tell David and Elise goodbye, because they’re my favorite characters in a favorite setting, but response to The Body Reader has been kinda off the charts. A good problem to have! Maybe I should conduct a poll. It’s not as if sales of the Sandburg books are shabby. Both Play Dead and Stay Dead have sold over 100,000 copies. I’m so grateful for that. Below are two lovely gifts from my publishing house commemorating the milestone. Those are the actual books inside a shadowbox!
What inspired you to write about a woman who was kidnapped for three years?
I liked the idea of following Jude’s journey as she comes back from that place. It’s a bit of an allegory. Many of us have found ourselves trapped in unbearable life situations that can be escaped with strength and determination.
How did you come up with the idea of a woman who is able to “read” bodies?
I never actually saw body reading as the driving force of the book, and considered The Body Reader my working title. I just wanted a cop who was more sensitive to people than the average detective, which is how I wrote her.
How did you create the character Jude Fontaine, and at any point did you find it difficult to write from her perspective?
She was difficult because it was important that she be removed and shut off. It’s hard to make that kind of character sympathetic, regardless of what she’s been through.
Would you ever consider writing a sequel to this book and if so, do you have any ideas on what you would focus on?
I’d love to write a sequel. It would be a bigger story, with a bigger canvas. Last year my editor was eager for me to sign on for a second book, but since I’m still writing the Elise Sandburg series I suggested we wait to see how readers responded to The Body Reader.
Broken family dynamics seem to play a large role in this book. What inspired you to include this topic in your story?
I come from a pretty damaged family, so it’s hard to keep that kind of thing out of my books no matter how I try. 😀
Chapter eighteen depicts a defining moment in the story for Jude Fontaine. Did you place yourself in her shoes during this part, and if so, was it a difficult moment to write about?
I know it sounds odd, but I actually really enjoyed writing that scene because it was the culmination of her search for her captor and it allowed her to finally wake up and feel for the first time in the book.
Is there a message that you hope your readers take away with them when they are done reading this thrilling novel?
At its core, The Body Reader is a story of female empowerment. Jude’s freedom and sense of self was taken from her, but she came back stronger than ever.