I'm not sure what it says about us, but my husband and I have become quite addicted to what we refer to as "Dead Wife Shows"--you know the kind of quasi-news show that's on at 9 p.m. (CST) on a Friday or Saturday night (when folks with real lives are out) that's billed as a TRUE-LIFE MYSTERY. It seems to usually center around some poor woman who ends up dead and then they try to solve the crime. It's fun, in a middle-aged couple sort of way, to sit on the sofa and follow the clues. Then we go to bed. We are Cuh-raz-ee!
So, you can imagien my excitement when I got to chat with April Henry co-author of Face of Betrayal. April knows how to kill you in a two-dozen different ways. She makes up for a peaceful childhood in an intact home by killing off fictional characters. She had one detour on her path to destruction: when she was 12 she sent a short story about a six-foot tall frog who loved peanut butter to noted children's author Roald Dahl. He liked it so much he arranged to have it published in an international children's magazine.
By the time she was in her 30s, April had come to terms with her childhood and started writing about hit men, drug dealers, and serial killers.
Publishers Weekly said Face of Betrayal is “A sizzling political thriller… The seamless plot offers a plethora of twists and turns.”
Tell me this doesn't sound great: When 17-year-old Senate page Katie Converse goes missing on her Christmas break near her parents' white Victorian home in Portland, Ore., law enforcement and the media go into overdrive in a search for clues. Three friends at the pinnacle of their respective careers--Allison Pierce, a federal prosecutor; Cassidy Shaw, a crime reporter; and Nicole Hedges, an FBI special agent--soon discover that Katie wasn't the picture of innocence painted by her parents. Did Katie run away to escape their stifling demands? Was she having an affair with the senator who sponsored her as a page? Has she been kidnapped? Is she the victim of a serial killer?
Let's hear from April in her own words . . .
1.) How did you come up with the idea for this book? Are you more driven by plot or by character?
Lis Wiehl, my co-author and FOX-TV’s legal analyst, wanted to write a book with three main characters: a federal prosecutor (as she was), a TV reporter (as she is), and an FBI agent (as her dad was). When we decided to work together, we batted around a bunch of ideas that had their roots in true crimes. Face of Betrayal has echoes from a number of real-life cases, most notably Chandra Levy’s.
As a mystery and thriller writer, I’m all about plot
2.) Who's your favorite character in this book and why?
I like Cassidy because she is kind of venial and vain, but honest.
3.) What's your writing process/writing environment like?
I write in my home office, on my couch, at the library, at my gym. At first I couldn’t write at home because I would find myself doing something else. Now I’m better at getting my butt in the chair and away from loading the dishes. Lis and I will email each other back and forth a half-dozen times a day. When we have the basic idea, I’ll start working on the first draft. Then together we fine tune it.
4.) What's your favorite part of writing?
When the characters and situations take on a life of their own and start going in directions that are perfect – and that I didn’t forsee!
5.) What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten about writing?
Let it sit. The longer you can stay away from a manuscript, the more easily you can see the flaws. Months are better. Weeks are okay. Even days, in a pinch. But hours? Hours doesn’t give you enough distance.
I love April's advice about letting your writing sit to give yourself some distance. And of course, one great way to get away from your own writing is to lose yourself in a fabulous thriller. So, go read, kids, and enjoy!