The scientist who ventures out of the dust-bowl dry world of nonfiction has much to learn. When I took on this transition, trainers advised starting out with story settings that are already well familiar. Doing so helps the beginner keep from becoming overwhelmed.
I knew I wanted to write novels. As a fan of the mystery genre, but having limited first-hand knowledge in the criminal justice field, I figured thriller/suspense would best suit the bill. I’d have mysteries in the plots, but resolve them in ways other than following around cops and robbers. And the setting: you guessed it. Disaster recovery.
Of this were born Sarah Turner and Paulson Forbes: two very different mental health professionals, both drawn to assist during times of disaster. As the keyboard clicked away, my fictional colleagues were quick to point out the hidden agenda their creator was ignoring. Real-world disaster mental health quandaries rose to the surface.
Most have answers. Others, not so much.
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Sam Turner is last seen strolling away from Marshland’s disaster relief shelter, carrying an odd contraption found half-buried on his flood ravaged property. That evening his body shop burns down, and the retired widower is nowhere to be found. Sarah, his estranged daughter, returns to the small town she had rejected – both hoping and dreading that she finds him.
When Sarah joins the disaster relief effort as a means of looking for her father, Paulson – nonconformist social worker who fled the big city – is assigned as her disaster mental health mentor. His unorthodoxy collides with her professional sensibilities. She does not recognize that his interest in her is more than professional. Nor do either of them notice they are being stalked by a pair of looters.