WEIRD RESEARCH? by Nancy Springer

I do a lot of weird things, but seldom in the name of research. In my life weird things just seem to happen, and then if I can incorporate them in a novel, wonderful.

That said, I did set out to do some snake-handling before I wrote DUSSSIE. Yesss, three ssses. Sssnakesss hisss.

DUSSSIE was a kids’ book about a junior Medusa who was sorely perturbed one adolescent morning to wake up with the ultimate bad hair day, meaning her locks had turned into live snakes, all nonpoisonous native American species. Originally I figured an ordinary girl’s head would hold thirty-seven snakes of varying kinds. Later, at the insistence of my editor, I reduced the number, but I still had garter snakes, black snakes, king snakes, corn snakes, ribbon snakes, rat snakes, milk snakes, green tree snakes — numerous snakes forming kind of a Greek chorus around and within Dusie’s head.

So I needed to get a tactile feel for snakes. This would have been no problem, except they’re hard to catch. Eventually I went to a nature center and persuaded someone to let me hold a little yellow snake (corn snake) for a while. I felt thrills and chills at the sensation of solid muscle encased in polished scales. But I really needed to drape a number of snakes around my neck and shoulders all at once. I eventually found a state park employee who raises and breeds rat snakes, corn snakes, etc. He captured a number of wild snakes with interesting color mutations and has now succeeded in breeding technicolor snakes in every conceivable neon shade or combinations thereof. He was more than happy to let me play with his beautiful pets, and I learned a great deal from him, such as, snakes grow calm and sleepy when placed in a dark fabric bag. Hence, Dusie can get hers to shut up (mostly) by wrapping a towel around her head.

Born in New Jersey, I was brought up to have no fear of snakes. We loved to see garter snakes and black snakes in our back yard. But now that I live in the Florida panhandle, I am surrounded by people who were brought up to flee in terror from even a tiny snake — and necessarily so, because the child who plays with a pygmy rattler or a coral snake is a dead kid. It’s too bad that this irrational fear holds over into adulthood.

I mention this only because any time I want to inflict shock and awe on a social gathering down here, all I have to do is mention that I like to handle snakes.

About the Author:

Nancy Springer has passed the fifty-book milestone, having written that many novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery — although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. DARK LIE is her first venture into mass-market psychological suspense.

Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Nancy Springer moved with her family to Gettysburg, of Civil War fame, when she was thirteen. She spent the next forty-six years in Pennsylvania, raising two children (Jonathan, now 35, and Nora, 31), writing, horseback riding, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.

Find Nancy online at

http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Author/AuthorPage/0,,1000015705,00.html
http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780451238061,00.html Dark_Lie_Nancy_Springer
http://www.facebook.com/pages#!/NancySpringerNovelist
http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=6_314

In this gripping psychological thriller — smart, chilling, and unrelenting — Nancy Springer establishes herself as an exciting new suspense writer with a distinctive voice and some surprises up her sleeve…

To their neighbors, Dorrie and Sam Clark seem a contented couple in America’s heartland, with steady jobs, a suburban home, and community activities to keep them busy. But they’re not quite what they appear to be. For plain, hard-working Sam hides a depth of devotion for his wife that no one would suspect. And Dorrie is living a dark lie — beset by physical ailments, alone within herself, and unknown to those around her, following the comings and goings of the sixteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, she gave up for adoption when she was hardly more than a child herself.

Then one day at the mall, Dorrie, horror-stricken, sees Juliet being abducted, forced into a van that drives away. Instinctively, Dorrie sends her own car speeding after them — an act of reckless courage that pits her against a clever, depraved killer, and draws Sam into a dogged, desperate search to save his wife. In a confrontation that unites mother and daughter in a terrifying struggle to survive, Dorrie must face and conquer her own secret, tormented past.

CIRCLES by Nancy Springer

I collect colorful plastic bottle caps. The best ones come off cartons of milk, orange juice, and the like. I have varying shades of orange, yellow, green, and blue. I also have just a few red, pink, and purple, for the sake of which I probably bought grape juice or fruit punch I don’t even drink. Stored in a glass vase, the bottle caps sit around the house for no reason whatsoever except that they are charmingly circular and I am, have always been, and probably always will be, a bit loopy about circles. Hex signs fascinated me when I was a kid driving through Pennsylvania with my parents. I considered radial symmetry way more cool than bilateral symmetry in high school biology class. I remember vividly the first time I met a yang-yin, courtesy of one of my hippie friends in college; it blew my mind. More recently mandalas have captivated me. I buy mandala coloring books on the Internet and find a peculiar serenity as I crayon them. Also, I have spent hours and hours creating my own mandalas with protractor and compass, squaring the circle while remaining scornful of other rectangles . Really. I use “rectilinear” as a kind of synonym for “boringly normal.” I’m bigoted against rectangles, and triangles other than equilateral. I’m a geometry snob. Ovals and ellipses are okay, but I prefer circles.

Circles R us. I notice fancy hub caps — okay, wheel covers — and the circular glass “eyes” embedded in old telephone poles, and the lollipop reflectors flanking driveways. I have been known to pick up the lacy powder-blue plastic circles dropped by kids with cap guns. The circles-within-circle phenomenon of pepperoni pizza makes me want to invent fortune-telling based on pizza toppings . I feel shortchanged by restaurants with weird square dinnerware. If I were a shape, I would be a circle. This conviction goes so far back in my life I can’t remember when it started — when, for instance, I became conscious of the mystic significance of sun and moon, which by some cosmic coincidence are symmetrically sized the same from our earth-fettered point of view. As a kid I had a box of marbles — real marbles, and not just class cat’s-eyes but colorful marbles clouded with white, including the big ones, aggies and shooters. I played with them for hours without ever once playing marbles. I’m still not sure what they meant to me, but I wish I had kept them when I gave up my other toys.

After reading a lot about mythology, psychology, religion and spiritualism, I have a vague grasp of the symbolism of the circle, which of course cannot be fully expressed in words, but has to do with the seasons of the year and other cycles of forever, going and coming back again, the hero journey, the wheel of fortune, rotating energy, oneness out of many as in radial flowers morphing into plump fruit, fertility, the feminine principle, and only the nimble mind of humankind knows what else.

Sure, I’ve read all this, yet I do not really know what my bottle caps mean to me. I just like them. That’s all.

About the Author:

Nancy Springer has passed the fifty-book milestone, having written that many novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery — although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. DARK LIE is her first venture into mass-market psychological suspense.

Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Nancy Springer moved with her family to Gettysburg, of Civil War fame, when she was thirteen. She spent the next forty-six years in Pennsylvania, raising two children (Jonathan, now 35, and Nora, 31), writing, horseback riding, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.

Find Nancy online at

http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Author/AuthorPage/0,,1000015705,00.html
http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780451238061,00.html Dark_Lie_Nancy_Springer
http://www.facebook.com/pages#!/NancySpringerNovelist
http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=6_314

In this gripping psychological thriller — smart, chilling, and unrelenting — Nancy Springer establishes herself as an exciting new suspense writer with a distinctive voice and some surprises up her sleeve…

To their neighbors, Dorrie and Sam Clark seem a contented couple in America’s heartland, with steady jobs, a suburban home, and community activities to keep them busy. But they’re not quite what they appear to be. For plain, hard-working Sam hides a depth of devotion for his wife that no one would suspect. And Dorrie is living a dark lie — beset by physical ailments, alone within herself, and unknown to those around her, following the comings and goings of the sixteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, she gave up for adoption when she was hardly more than a child herself.

Then one day at the mall, Dorrie, horror-stricken, sees Juliet being abducted, forced into a van that drives away. Instinctively, Dorrie sends her own car speeding after them — an act of reckless courage that pits her against a clever, depraved killer, and draws Sam into a dogged, desperate search to save his wife. In a confrontation that unites mother and daughter in a terrifying struggle to survive, Dorrie must face and conquer her own secret, tormented past.

IF I COULD DO IT AGAIN by Nancy Springer

If only because I’m tired of Jerry Springer jokes, I would have used my real name, meaning my birth name. Because of my mistaken loyalty to my then husband, now ex, his family instead of mine gets credit for what I have written. Okay, that’s a bit petty, but also, if I had used my birth name, some of the obnoxious kids who picked on me in elementary school might have made the connection: jeez, that loser is a winner now. Okay, so that’s even more petty, but here’s a practical consideration: if I had used my birth name, my titles would have been shelved at eye level in the bookstores — instead of down around the ankles like dropped underwear.

What else would I do differently? I would not have said “Yes, yes, yes!” to my first book contract offer; rather, I would have found an agent to negotiate me a better advance and terms. Hmmm, what else. I would not have signed the five-book contract that subsequently held me enslaved to a publisher for two years after the imprint went belly up. And there were a few times when I listened to editors and I shouldn’t have.

Really, I have very few regrets. One of the more recent ones is that I’ve lost track of so many of my contacts. I should have done a better job of keeping track of people I met. I did have a pretty good card file of contacts going early on but somewhere along the way I slipped up, and now names turn up from twenty or thirty years ago and I think, Who the heck? A fan letter, or a teacher I met on a school visit, or a librarian, or somebody’s editorial assistant, or an aspiring writer I met at a conference, or my neighbor’s cousin’s boyfriend’s kid? Instead of allowing my computer to keep the address book on its own, I should have added notations — “Balticon, dressed only in green body paint,” or “middle school librarian, Phili.” Yet every time I had to change computers, I lost my addresses, up until g-mail! But the point is I should have found a way to keep in touch with more of these people, not just for the sake of networking, but for my own sake as a human being.

About the Author:

Nancy Springer has passed the fifty-book milestone, having written that many novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery — although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. DARK LIE is her first venture into mass-market psychological suspense.

Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Nancy Springer moved with her family to Gettysburg, of Civil War fame, when she was thirteen. She spent the next forty-six years in Pennsylvania, raising two children (Jonathan, now 35, and Nora, 31), writing, horseback riding, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.

Find Nancy online at

http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Author/AuthorPage/0,,1000015705,00.html
http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780451238061,00.html Dark_Lie_Nancy_Springer
http://www.facebook.com/pages#!/NancySpringerNovelist
http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=6_314

In this gripping psychological thriller — smart, chilling, and unrelenting — Nancy Springer establishes herself as an exciting new suspense writer with a distinctive voice and some surprises up her sleeve…

To their neighbors, Dorrie and Sam Clark seem a contented couple in America’s heartland, with steady jobs, a suburban home, and community activities to keep them busy. But they’re not quite what they appear to be. For plain, hard-working Sam hides a depth of devotion for his wife that no one would suspect. And Dorrie is living a dark lie — beset by physical ailments, alone within herself, and unknown to those around her, following the comings and goings of the sixteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, she gave up for adoption when she was hardly more than a child herself.

Then one day at the mall, Dorrie, horror-stricken, sees Juliet being abducted, forced into a van that drives away. Instinctively, Dorrie sends her own car speeding after them — an act of reckless courage that pits her against a clever, depraved killer, and draws Sam into a dogged, desperate search to save his wife. In a confrontation that unites mother and daughter in a terrifying struggle to survive, Dorrie must face and conquer her own secret, tormented past.

MY HOME TOWN by Nancy Springer

While my father was from Ireland, my mother from the Welsh Hills of Ohio, and I was born in New Jersey, the hometown of my heart is Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where I went to high school and college.

Statue_of_Gen._Reynolds_at_GettysburgWhat I love most about Gettysburg is that it’s a beautiful place that is not being ruined by getting built up. Quite the opposite, the government will buy a Stuckeys or a motel or a tourist tower in order to remove it and return the landscape to what it was like in the mid-nineteenth century at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg. I rejoice every time this happens as if it were a small personal revenge on “progress.” (I’m kind of a Luddite. Also kind of a pantheist.) Oddly, I don’t give a hoot about preserving historical authenticity; I just like the rolling fields rimmed with handmade stone fences, the trees and rustic buildings, the view of forested hills. Historical authenticity would stipulate that the fields be strewn with corpses, when instead they’re strewn with a variety of monuments; I can live with this, although the Pennsylvania monument in particular is hideous. The others, not so bad. The statues of generals on horseback, great, because I love horses. BTW, if the horse has four feet on the ground, the general survived the battle unscathed; one foot off the ground, the general was wounded, and two feet off the ground, the general was killed, e.g. the Reynolds statue, one of the prettiest.

When I went to Gettysburg High School, history was taught by Colonel Sheads, the battlefield guide who gave President Kennedy’s family the tour when JFK was in the White House. (“I got to sit by Jackie!” Colonel Sheads crowed to my class.) Between him and having seen the Electric Map about two dozen times with various family friends, I still know way more than most people about the Battle of Gettysburg. Sometime in high school also I memorized Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. If life were a simple matter of cause and effect, I would have written historical novels about the Civil War, which tend to be big money-earners — but somehow that’s not the way it worked out. To this day, the hardest kind of scene for me to write convincingly is a sword fight, because the more I learned about hand-to-hand combat while I was growing up in Gettysburg, the more I decided it was stupid.

But if the history didn’t “take,” maybe the ghost stories did. The Gettysburg area has always been rife with ghost stories. A popular teen amusement, before the park management closed the place at night, was to drive around the dark and winding battlefield roads, tell ghost stories, and scream every time a pallid stone monument loomed in the headlights.

My family moved to Gettysburg when I was thirteen because my father wanted to change careers. He and Mom bought and ran a small motel. My mother told me that the countryside around Gettysburg, with its rounded old Appalachian mountains, looked a lot like my father’s native Ireland except that the hills (Dad called them “the paps”) were forested. Because Dad supplemented our income with an afternoon newspaper route delivering The Gettysburg Times, he and I drove all over miles and miles of countryside, and I formed a closer bond with him than ever before. Some of the places we went were rural to an extreme. Dad drove a Volkswagen beetle, and I’ll never forget the afternoon a pig crawled under it while he was stopped making a delivery and picking up some homemade scrapple, the Pennsylvania Dutch substitute for bacon. The pig all but lifted Dad’s VW off the ground. We could not get moving until the pig was persuaded to decamp.

Because there are a college and a Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg, both feeding the smart sons and daughters of professors into the public schools, I found myself no longer an oddball there, just another brain. And the public schools, provided with a large academic track (they tracked us back then), gave a best-effort education. Necessarily so; heck, David Eisenhower was in my high school class. (President Eisenhower had a nice farm near Gettysburg. I visited there a couple of times.) So I was lucky my parents had moved there, and even luckier that my violin teacher managed to swing a scholarship at Gettysburg College for me. My parents were planning to send me to a “state teacher’s college; they could never have afforded Gettysburg. Being an English Literature major at Gettysburg College made a big difference in my becoming a writer.

Subsequently I lived most of my life within thirty miles of Gettysburg, and I have been back there many, many times. It doesn’t change much except that tacky modern buildings keep disappearing and the National Park keeps getting bigger. (Grin.) I’m fortunate in my hometown for many reasons, one being that when I say I’m from Gettysburg, most people vaguely recognize the place name; wasn’t the nation saved there?

About the Author:

Nancy Springer has passed the fifty-book milestone, having written that many novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery — although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. DARK LIE is her first venture into mass-market psychological suspense.

Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Nancy Springer moved with her family to Gettysburg, of Civil War fame, when she was thirteen. She spent the next forty-six years in Pennsylvania, raising two children (Jonathan, now 35, and Nora, 31), writing, horseback riding, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.

Find Nancy online at

http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Author/AuthorPage/0,,1000015705,00.html
http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780451238061,00.html Dark_Lie_Nancy_Springer
http://www.facebook.com/pages#!/NancySpringerNovelist
http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=6_314

In this gripping psychological thriller — smart, chilling, and unrelenting — Nancy Springer establishes herself as an exciting new suspense writer with a distinctive voice and some surprises up her sleeve…

To their neighbors, Dorrie and Sam Clark seem a contented couple in America’s heartland, with steady jobs, a suburban home, and community activities to keep them busy. But they’re not quite what they appear to be. For plain, hard-working Sam hides a depth of devotion for his wife that no one would suspect. And Dorrie is living a dark lie — beset by physical ailments, alone within herself, and unknown to those around her, following the comings and goings of the sixteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, she gave up for adoption when she was hardly more than a child herself.

Then one day at the mall, Dorrie, horror-stricken, sees Juliet being abducted, forced into a van that drives away. Instinctively, Dorrie sends her own car speeding after them — an act of reckless courage that pits her against a clever, depraved killer, and draws Sam into a dogged, desperate search to save his wife. In a confrontation that unites mother and daughter in a terrifying struggle to survive, Dorrie must face and conquer her own secret, tormented past.

WHAT IS MY STRANGEST HABIT? by Nancy Springer

It’s hard to choose, I have so many — picking up sparkly trash from gutters, collecting bottle caps, rescuing ugly toy horses, helping turtles across the road — but I guess the weirdest might be the way I look at people’s handwriting. I’ll study any sample from the writing on a birthday card to the signatures on a guest register. It makes perfect sense to me that I can tell something about people from what they’ve written. I mean, in grade school we are all taught to write the same way, but we don’t, do we? During adolescence and early adulthood we all experiment with our handwriting and take a great deal of trouble to personalize it, even though we don’t have any idea why we prefer straight lines over loops or vice versa. I’m no expert — a lot of the time I can’t tell a thing from a person’s handwriting, and I’ll say so. Other times I might be mistaken. “You’re an extrovert,” I told a friend. “I can tell because your handwriting is so large.” She answered, “No, that’s just because I’m blind as a bat. I write big so I can see what I wrote.” Aak! Similarly, wobbly handwriting might be a sign of an unstable personality or it might just be an indication that somebody was writing in a moving vehicle.

Still, I can feel quite sure of myself a lot of the time when it comes to people’s handwriting. Figure-8 f and g are a sign of intelligence. Leaving off lead-in strokes is common-sense economy. Long end strokes indicate generosity. Handwriting very much like the copybook samples, that’s conservatism. Handwriting that’s so perfect it looks like it’s arranged on an invisible line is scary — watch out for that person, wired too tight and might explode! Other kinds of scary handwriting are very angular, with sharp points instead of soft curves, or very narrow and retraced, or written with a great deal of pressure, or clubbed, which means that the strokes are kind of slashed, thick at one end and thin at the other. Dashed i dots show impatience with detail. Tall ascenders show aspiration, and I used to wonder why one of my editors wrote his ascenders so broad that they looped into each other — I should have known that’s a sign of a broad, exploring mind. The ascenders show what’s going on in the head, the middle zone equates to the body or daily life, and the descenders — you can guess what kinks in the descenders mean. Or if you aren’t getting any, that shows in very short-tailed lettering. At least that’s how I choose to interpret, but I am not totally to be trusted. I tend to be mischievous, a trait you can see in my handwriting.

Awhile back, I decided to change my handwriting slightly in order to become more the person I wanted to be. There’s nothing weird or woo-woo about this. Every time I formed certain letters, I reminded myself of how I wanted to revise my point of view and my perception of myself. It worked.

BTW, one of the police officers in DARK LIE analyzes handwriting much the way I do.

About the Author:

Nancy Springer has passed the fifty-book milestone, having written that many novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery — although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. DARK LIE is her first venture into mass-market psychological suspense.

Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Nancy Springer moved with her family to Gettysburg, of Civil War fame, when she was thirteen. She spent the next forty-six years in Pennsylvania, raising two children (Jonathan, now 35, and Nora, 31), writing, horseback riding, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.

Find Nancy online at

http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Author/AuthorPage/0,,1000015705,00.html
http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780451238061,00.html Dark_Lie_Nancy_Springer
http://www.facebook.com/pages#!/NancySpringerNovelist
http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=6_314

In this gripping psychological thriller — smart, chilling, and unrelenting — Nancy Springer establishes herself as an exciting new suspense writer with a distinctive voice and some surprises up her sleeve…

To their neighbors, Dorrie and Sam Clark seem a contented couple in America’s heartland, with steady jobs, a suburban home, and community activities to keep them busy. But they’re not quite what they appear to be. For plain, hard-working Sam hides a depth of devotion for his wife that no one would suspect. And Dorrie is living a dark lie — beset by physical ailments, alone within herself, and unknown to those around her, following the comings and goings of the sixteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, she gave up for adoption when she was hardly more than a child herself.

Then one day at the mall, Dorrie, horror-stricken, sees Juliet being abducted, forced into a van that drives away. Instinctively, Dorrie sends her own car speeding after them — an act of reckless courage that pits her against a clever, depraved killer, and draws Sam into a dogged, desperate search to save his wife. In a confrontation that unites mother and daughter in a terrifying struggle to survive, Dorrie must face and conquer her own secret, tormented past.

RESEARCH by Nancy Springer

In a sense, I’m researching all the time, although I don’t precisely know for what. As much as I can, I base my books on anecdotes I’ve heard or situations I’ve experienced in my own life. “Write what you know” is good advice.

Of course I want to know more than I can find out just by hanging out, so I read a lot of nonfiction just for fun. When I am writing fiction I feel no urge to read fiction, and quirky nonfiction makes great entertainment as well as supplying potentially valuable information. In my house you will find The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste as well as The Larouse Encyclopedia of Mythology. You will find Big Hair but also Reviving Ophelia. Grimm’s Fairy Tales but also tales of bounty hunting. Books on Pre-Raphaelite art and books about circus freaks. The Book of Weird, formerly The Glass Harmonica, is a favorite of mine, and Frogs: Their Wonderful Wisdom, Follies and Foibles, Mysterious Powers, Strange Encounters, Private Lives, Symbolism and Meaning, inspired two frog-themed books. Almost anything is grist for the mill, and that includes looking up “grist” in the dictionary to find out what I just said, exactly.

I wonder whether “grits” come from “grist.” Linguistically, I mean.

Anyway. When I have something specific to research, such as everything I needed to know when writing the Enola Holmes novels — London of the 1880’s, Victorian culture, costume, customs, cuisine, the works — I look every which where. For Enola, I started with history books, but what a fiction writer really needs to know — smells, textures, routines, superstitions, everyday details — cannot be found there. So I read biographies of notable people who lived at the right time, and I studied The Annotated Sherlock Holmes by William S. Baring-Could — I got it cheap because I needed only Volume One. Then, the treat I’d been waiting for, I went to a website called doverpublications.com for visual references. (Remember, all story starts with the visual; IMAGE-ination.) One of my very best sources for the Enola Holmes books was Victorian London Street Life in Historic Photographs by John Thomson. Another was Fashion and Women’s Attitudes in the Nineteenth Century by C. Willet Cunningham, also profusely illustrated. Yet another was Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing by Martin Gardner. All of these came from Dover Books, as did my most important and unusual resource: numerous coloring books. Whether Victorian Houses, Victorian Hotels, Victorian Costume, or The Language of Flowers, these not only gave me information in the form of notes, but enabled me to internalize everything so thoroughly that, when it became time to write, I didn’t have to think about research; I just knew. By coloring, whether a street scene or a house interior or a lady in full fig, in order to decide on colors I had to figure out what things were and how they worked together. What is that thing? Oh, it’s a coal scuttle, so it’s black. Or oh, it’s a mailbox, and what color were they? (Red.) Or it’s the collar and cuffs that fasten separately to the rest of the gentleman’s suit, invariably starchy white. And so it went.

Not only did I find well-illustrated reference books and scholarly coloring books at Dover, but also wonderfully useful paper doll books, clip art, and stickers. In my rather messy notebooks, I used Victorian stickers to help make sense of the jumble and let me find what I needed. I even made my own little book of Victoriania out of stickers and notes.

One of my self-made mottoes as a fiction writer is “it works to play.” Obviously other people agree with me, or such wonderful research playthings would not be available.

About the Author:

Nancy Springer has passed the fifty-book milestone, having written that many novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery — although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. DARK LIE is her first venture into mass-market psychological suspense.

Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Nancy Springer moved with her family to Gettysburg, of Civil War fame, when she was thirteen. She spent the next forty-six years in Pennsylvania, raising two children (Jonathan, now 35, and Nora, 31), writing, horseback riding, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.

Find Nancy online at

http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Author/AuthorPage/0,,1000015705,00.html
http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780451238061,00.html Dark_Lie_Nancy_Springer
http://www.facebook.com/pages#!/NancySpringerNovelist
http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=6_314

In this gripping psychological thriller — smart, chilling, and unrelenting — Nancy Springer establishes herself as an exciting new suspense writer with a distinctive voice and some surprises up her sleeve…

To their neighbors, Dorrie and Sam Clark seem a contented couple in America’s heartland, with steady jobs, a suburban home, and community activities to keep them busy. But they’re not quite what they appear to be. For plain, hard-working Sam hides a depth of devotion for his wife that no one would suspect. And Dorrie is living a dark lie — beset by physical ailments, alone within herself, and unknown to those around her, following the comings and goings of the sixteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, she gave up for adoption when she was hardly more than a child herself.

Then one day at the mall, Dorrie, horror-stricken, sees Juliet being abducted, forced into a van that drives away. Instinctively, Dorrie sends her own car speeding after them — an act of reckless courage that pits her against a clever, depraved killer, and draws Sam into a dogged, desperate search to save his wife. In a confrontation that unites mother and daughter in a terrifying struggle to survive, Dorrie must face and conquer her own secret, tormented past.

WHEN I GREW UP I WANTED TO BE… by Nancy Springer

A cowgirl! As a kid in elementary school I might have been a bit unclear as to what a cowgirl did, but that didn’t matter as long as it involved a horse or cow pony, preferably pinto spotted, and a cool western-style outfit, and a lot of cantering and galloping. I guess later I added a guitar and shifted focus a little. By the time I got to college I was playing acoustic guitar, writing down lyrics and teaching myself all the Peter, Paul and Mary songs, singing and playing in my dorm room to relax and in coffeehouses to show off, and in my dreams I would spend my life singing ballads, “killing them softly” with my songs. I’d had no professional training with either my voice or my guitar but that didn’t matter. I felt fated to be a singer of sweet folk songs.

Of course the folk singers of the 1960’s were an anomalous blip in the history of popular music in this country, and it passed before I could have gotten started even if I’d had a clue how or where to begin, which I didn’t. Also, getting married changed everything and somehow hushed my voice. But it found its way back later in the form of writing. From the very first, when I wrote, I wanted the words to sing. My first fantasy hero, Hal, was a singer, and I wrote the songs for him and set their poetry like gemstones into the texture of the book. I think both my singing and my writing spring from a deep, unconscious, and enormous emotional need to connect with people, communicate deeply, become intimate in a poetic or spiritual way. I said unconscious, but the need has gradually become conscious due to sixty-some years of living with myself. When I was young I craved the ultimate sexual communion. Now, aside from the love of my second husband, there is no greater joy in my life than a good conversation with someone, anyone. By “good” I mean something more than witty, something a bit more honest than usual, mind touching mind somehow, much as hand occasionally touches hand.

Armchair psychology tells me that this urgent need to speak and be heard can be traced back to when I was a child meant to be seen and not heard. In my old-fashioned upbringing, no one gave a rat’s sphincter about how I felt, only about how I behaved. Cleanliness was next to Godliness and so were proper, polite manners. It took me decades of my adult life to override my over-civilization enough to honk my car’s horn. I still can’t flip a finger. People can cut me off in traffic with impunity. I feel much more put-upon (although I try not to show it) if anyone cuts me off when I’m speaking, because I so badly need to say things.

About the Author:

Nancy Springer has passed the fifty-book milestone, having written that many novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery — although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. DARK LIE is her first venture into mass-market psychological suspense.

Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Nancy Springer moved with her family to Gettysburg, of Civil War fame, when she was thirteen. She spent the next forty-six years in Pennsylvania, raising two children (Jonathan, now 35, and Nora, 31), writing, horseback riding, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.

Find Nancy online at

http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Author/AuthorPage/0,,1000015705,00.html
http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780451238061,00.html Dark_Lie_Nancy_Springer
http://www.facebook.com/pages#!/NancySpringerNovelist
http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=6_314

In this gripping psychological thriller — smart, chilling, and unrelenting — Nancy Springer establishes herself as an exciting new suspense writer with a distinctive voice and some surprises up her sleeve…

To their neighbors, Dorrie and Sam Clark seem a contented couple in America’s heartland, with steady jobs, a suburban home, and community activities to keep them busy. But they’re not quite what they appear to be. For plain, hard-working Sam hides a depth of devotion for his wife that no one would suspect. And Dorrie is living a dark lie — beset by physical ailments, alone within herself, and unknown to those around her, following the comings and goings of the sixteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, she gave up for adoption when she was hardly more than a child herself.

Then one day at the mall, Dorrie, horror-stricken, sees Juliet being abducted, forced into a van that drives away. Instinctively, Dorrie sends her own car speeding after them — an act of reckless courage that pits her against a clever, depraved killer, and draws Sam into a dogged, desperate search to save his wife. In a confrontation that unites mother and daughter in a terrifying struggle to survive, Dorrie must face and conquer her own secret, tormented past.

MY WORK SCHEDULE by Nancy Springer

I’m just about always writing, seven days a week pretty much all year except maybe Christmas, travel days, and emergencies. I get grumpy and anxious if don’t write. Writing is my fix. If I am between novels, I suffer withdrawal while attempting to fill the hole in my life with catch-up correspondence, resurrection of old work and other writing-related ploys.

That said, writing still leaves me with plenty of time to fill, because I can write only a few pages a day. I remind me of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, a gourmet, who grieved that one must wait so many hours before the next meal. In his case, the stomach must digest; in mine, the brain must reboot.

So here’s the way a typical day goes: I flump out of bed at no terribly early hour, spend the usual time in the bathroom for the usual purposes, let the dog outside for similar purposes, feed the cats, then the dog, then myself. After giving my cereal bowl to a cat willing to clean up the remaining milk, I pour myself a huge mug of Diet Pepsi (my caffeine; I never learned to like coffee), head into my office and boot up my computer. Note that I have not dressed. I am still in my nightgown, slippers, and, in winter, a bathrobe. This protective clothing renders me unable to answer the door or run errands. Besides, it’s damn comfortable.

Maybe more importantly, the nightgown means I’m still half asleep and dreaming, in a kind of fugue state that lends itself delightfully to writing.

So I write. Disregarding the standard advice to just get something down on paper, I try to write final-draft-quality prose in first draft. This is hard work, and my brain gets tired. After the first hour or so, I usually go back to bed, where it is no trouble to fall asleep again. I wake up a half hour later (almost exactly and almost invariably) knowing changes I must make and how to tackle the next paragraph or two. Then I write for the rest of the morning, one to two hours depending on how it’s going. On a good day, I write three pages; on an exceptional day, five.

I’m tired again and need to be revived, but this time I do it with a shower. I get dressed, have lunch and maybe run errands. Or if my brain is enthusiastic and sputtering with ideas, I will go back to my writing in the afternoon or evening, but this is not usually the case. Generally my wellspring of story takes until the next morning to refill.

So I have plenty of time to kill in any given day, and that can be a bit of a problem. I hate housework. My teen years were spent cleaning motel rooms, which means I SO don’t want to do laundry, make beds, or blithely flit hither and yon dusting ANYTHING. I like to sew, crochet, craft and paint, but sadly, it seems as if my pointy head can handle only one project at a time, and that would be the book in progress. Even more annoying, while I’m working on a novel, I can’t be reading one. I used to go horseback riding every afternoon, but a broken ankle put an end to that. So now I spend some afternoons lunching with friends and/or hanging out at the public library, but mostly what I do to pass the time is yard work (when it’s not too stinking hot), reading nonfiction sometimes vaguely relevant to research, solving Sudoku, spending time in the Writers’ Bermuda Triangle of the Internet (Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail) or watching reruns of The Mentalist.

So there you have it. A couple hours in the morning, every single blessed morning, with only occasional deviations to include afternoon or evening. This is the grueling schedule that has produced a ten-page bibliography. Go figure.

About the Author:

Nancy Springer has passed the fifty-book milestone, having written that many novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery — although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. DARK LIE is her first venture into mass-market psychological suspense.

Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Nancy Springer moved with her family to Gettysburg, of Civil War fame, when she was thirteen. She spent the next forty-six years in Pennsylvania, raising two children (Jonathan, now 35, and Nora, 31), writing, horseback riding, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.

Find Nancy online at

http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Author/AuthorPage/0,,1000015705,00.html
http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780451238061,00.html Dark_Lie_Nancy_Springer
http://www.facebook.com/pages#!/NancySpringerNovelist
http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=6_314

In this gripping psychological thriller — smart, chilling, and unrelenting — Nancy Springer establishes herself as an exciting new suspense writer with a distinctive voice and some surprises up her sleeve…

To their neighbors, Dorrie and Sam Clark seem a contented couple in America’s heartland, with steady jobs, a suburban home, and community activities to keep them busy. But they’re not quite what they appear to be. For plain, hard-working Sam hides a depth of devotion for his wife that no one would suspect. And Dorrie is living a dark lie — beset by physical ailments, alone within herself, and unknown to those around her, following the comings and goings of the sixteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, she gave up for adoption when she was hardly more than a child herself.

Then one day at the mall, Dorrie, horror-stricken, sees Juliet being abducted, forced into a van that drives away. Instinctively, Dorrie sends her own car speeding after them — an act of reckless courage that pits her against a clever, depraved killer, and draws Sam into a dogged, desperate search to save his wife. In a confrontation that unites mother and daughter in a terrifying struggle to survive, Dorrie must face and conquer her own secret, tormented past.

WHAT IS GOOD WRITING? by Nancy Springer

Words.

Specifically, nouns and verbs.

More specifically, concrete nouns and action verbs.

Creative writing is all about images. The root word of “imagination” is “image.” Imagination is the ability to make mental pictures. We help children toward this ability by starting them off with picture books.

Writing, I embark on a process so peculiar it is almost paranormal; if we were not so accustomed to it, we would call it mental telepathy. The process is, I project a kind of picture show in my mind, but instead of drawing pictures about it, I make clusters of little marks, more commonly known as letters forming words. If I do my job well, then someone unknown to me will be able to look at the little marks, decode them via the process we call reading, and — get this –the same or very similar picture show will take place in her or his mind.

For this they pay me. A bizarre way to make a living, yes?

But there it is, and it’s best achieved through those concrete nouns — picture nouns — and active verbs. Abstract nouns and linking verbs won’t do it. “A person loves something,” conveys no picture. “The new mother swaddled her baby with her arms,” works better, although far from being great lit. The right verbs and nouns are more important than all the adverbs and adjectives any writer could lavish on the wrong verbs and nouns. Luckily, the English language has adopted a huge number of synonyms. In Spanish, for instance, the only word for donkey is burro/burra (masculine/feminine). In English we have donkey, jenny, burro, onager, jackass, jennet, hee-haw, Jerusalem pony, jack, ass, Missouri nightingale, and Rocky Mountain canary.

Whoa.

Backtracking to the premise: words convey images. But the flip side is, our vocabulary dictates and limits what we imagine. This is why the largest change in the English language since the fifteenth century took place due to feminism. No matter what Samuel Johnson said, “his” does not convey the same image as “his and hers,” let alone “hers and his.” Say “mankind,” and the image is masculine. But say “humankind or “humanity” or “people” to include women and children in the picture. “Waitress” gives a feminine image; “server” is gender neutral. It’s a wonderful thing how our language adapts and adopts to keep up with our cultural needs. Not that “smart phones” are really smart, but keeping up with linguistic change is never stupid — especially not for a writer.

The most constantly important element of good writing is diction. Which means having a large vocabulary from which to choose.

In the beginning was the word.

About the Author:

Nancy Springer has passed the fifty-book milestone, having written that many novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery — although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. DARK LIE is her first venture into mass-market psychological suspense.

Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Nancy Springer moved with her family to Gettysburg, of Civil War fame, when she was thirteen. She spent the next forty-six years in Pennsylvania, raising two children (Jonathan, now 35, and Nora, 31), writing, horseback riding, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.

Find Nancy online at

http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Author/AuthorPage/0,,1000015705,00.html
http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780451238061,00.html Dark_Lie_Nancy_Springer
http://www.facebook.com/pages#!/NancySpringerNovelist
http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=6_314

In this gripping psychological thriller — smart, chilling, and unrelenting — Nancy Springer establishes herself as an exciting new suspense writer with a distinctive voice and some surprises up her sleeve…

To their neighbors, Dorrie and Sam Clark seem a contented couple in America’s heartland, with steady jobs, a suburban home, and community activities to keep them busy. But they’re not quite what they appear to be. For plain, hard-working Sam hides a depth of devotion for his wife that no one would suspect. And Dorrie is living a dark lie — beset by physical ailments, alone within herself, and unknown to those around her, following the comings and goings of the sixteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, she gave up for adoption when she was hardly more than a child herself.

Then one day at the mall, Dorrie, horror-stricken, sees Juliet being abducted, forced into a van that drives away. Instinctively, Dorrie sends her own car speeding after them — an act of reckless courage that pits her against a clever, depraved killer, and draws Sam into a dogged, desperate search to save his wife. In a confrontation that unites mother and daughter in a terrifying struggle to survive, Dorrie must face and conquer her own secret, tormented past.

INTERVIEW: NANCY SPRINGER

Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome back Nancy Springer, whose first venture into mass-market psychological suspense Dark Lie was recently released. You can see our earlier interview with her here.

Dorrie White, the main character of Dark Lie has lupus, an auto-immune system disorder which can affect a person a little or a lot. Dorrie has a bad case of it. Her face is roughened and reddened by a malar rash, and steroids have given her chipmunk cheeks and thunder thighs. Because unrealistic societal standards make Dorrie unable to think of herself as attractive in any way, she is a bit vulnerable emotionally. Even as she steps up to the plate in a life-or-death situation, she thinks of herself as “just a housewife,” nothing special.

Because her lupus causes joint pain, fatigue, and fever, she is also vulnerable physically. Far from chasing down bad guys, she cannot even run from them. She is the archetypical underdog. She must truly struggle, and use her wits, to win.

“I do not have lupus, but still, I feel that Dorrie has a lot in common with me and many American women like me,” Nancy revealed, “women of a certain age, overweight but underfit and definitely underwhelming in terms of making any impression socially. Many people, not just the very scary villain, underestimate Dorrie’s integrity and sheer grit of character as she faces challenge after challenge to save her daughter. If her lupus is symbolic of anything, it may represent the wolfish predation, mostly dark and secret, that every woman has dealt with.”

Nancy is very much a character-driven writer and she told me, when it comes to plotting, “I fly by the bottom of my bloomers all the time…once the main character takes on a kind of life of her/his own in my head and I can hear her or his voice, I am ready to start writing.”

She knows what the conflict will be, which is often dictated by what sort of trouble the character would be likely to get into.

“I don’t need to know how things are going to come out,” Nancy explained. “All I need to do is let the character take charge of what s/he does in response to difficulties. I think that, while writing, I am in as much suspense to see how everything works out out as later a reader might be. But my suspense sustains far longer!”

She can’t stand to not be writing, so she often starts writing something within two or three days of completing a project—and will probably choose something very different than what she was writing.

She doesn’t do research before writing; instead, as questions come up during the course of the book, she will make note of them—waiting, if possible, until the second draft to get her facts straight.

Nancy tried writing an outline once for a book she was working on but after finishing the outline, she never went back and wrote the book.

“I felt as if I were already done with it and had lost all enthusiasm for it,” she admitted. “My ‘pantser’ approach really challenged me when it came to writing the Enola Holmes books, each of which had three intertwined plots: Enola searching for her mother, Enola eluding her brothers, and Enola finding a missing person. (Add Enola finding herself, and that’s four plots.) But, honestly, I did not outline. I undertook each chapter as I came to it, I researched along the way, and I seldom knew what was going to happen next in any given book, or how it was going to come out. I frankly do not know how I pulled it off, except to say that Enola is an extraordinarily strong and astute character and she led me exceedingly well.”

“What is the hardest part about writing for you?” I asked.

“Not having co-workers. In other words, loneliness. If it were not that I have an adorable husband who comes home for supper, I would go days at a time without seeing another human being. I don’t know how frontier folks did it. I’d go crazy. Working alone was okay when I had family, kids at home, and then I went through a spell when I worked in restaurants, where I could exchange chit-chat with the staff and other regulars, but my present situation doesn’t allow that. The Internet provides a kind of virtual belonging and the telephone allows an occasional long-distance conversation, but often, as a full-time writer, I do feel very alone, and it can’t be helped.”

She told me that she can’t blame this entirely on writing, though, because she grew up in a home where the tacit expectation was that members should distance themselves. Her father came from Ireland and only went back twice in his life. Her mother had a sister and three brothers who lived in distant states and was visited on summer vacation.

“I had a grandmother on my father’s side, but I hardly realized she existed until I was fifteen and she died. Now my two kids live far away and lead busy lives that don’t much include me. I have no grandchildren. Occasionally I talk with one or the other of my two brothers on the phone, but it’s been years since I’ve seen either of them,” she said. “Within the context of my upbringing this is all completely normal, but I can’t help noticing that I am surrounded by people who go to family reunions. Also, they often form surrogate families at their places of employment. Naturally they envy me for not having to punch a time clock or put in a 40-hour work week, and I agree with them; I’m spoiled. But my life is a trade-off. Either I can write, or I can have human contact, but usually not both at once. Usually that doesn’t work so great.

“It doesn’t work so great with cats either, unfortunately. Cats are ruinous to office equipment. I once had a cat total a new printer simply by barfing down the paper slot. Nobody could fix it, or maybe nobody was willing to.

“What’s hard about writing itself? Everything and nothing. Once I get into my work, I never feel lonely, because I’m with people — my characters — and conversing with other people — my readers. But I can only write a few hours a day. The well needs time to refill. And it’s the down time that’s difficult.

“When I am between books I am impossible. I utterly don’t know what to do with me.

“Friends? Yeah, they help. A lot. Especially now that I’ve given up the ideal of the lifelong friend and adapted to reality: there’s a fluctuating quality to friendship. Which old Greek was it who said that you never step in the same river twice? I am grateful to my friends. I just wish they’d stay around longer and not go moving away or dying on me.

“Heraclitus. That’s who the old Greek was.”

About the Author:

Nancy Springer has passed the fifty-book milestone, having written that many novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery — although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. DARK LIE is her first venture into mass-market psychological suspense.

Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Nancy Springer moved with her family to Gettysburg, of Civil War fame, when she was thirteen. She spent the next forty-six years in Pennsylvania, raising two children (Jonathan, now 35, and Nora, 31), writing, horseback riding, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.
Find Nancy online at
http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Author/AuthorPage/0,,1000015705,00.html
http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780451238061,00.html Dark_Lie_Nancy_Springer
http://www.facebook.com/pages#!/NancySpringerNovelist
http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=6_314

In this gripping psychological thriller — smart, chilling, and unrelenting — Nancy Springer establishes herself as an exciting new suspense writer with a distinctive voice and some surprises up her sleeve…
To their neighbors, Dorrie and Sam Clark seem a contented couple in America’s heartland, with steady jobs, a suburban home, and community activities to keep them busy. But they’re not quite what they appear to be. For plain, hard-working Sam hides a depth of devotion for his wife that no one would suspect. And Dorrie is living a dark lie — beset by physical ailments, alone within herself, and unknown to those around her, following the comings and goings of the sixteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, she gave up for adoption when she was hardly more than a child herself.
Then one day at the mall, Dorrie, horror-stricken, sees Juliet being abducted, forced into a van that drives away. Instinctively, Dorrie sends her own car speeding after them — an act of reckless courage that pits her against a clever, depraved killer, and draws Sam into a dogged, desperate search to save his wife. In a confrontation that unites mother and daughter in a terrifying struggle to survive, Dorrie must face and conquer her own secret, tormented past.