When Truth Hurts
When I stepped into the pages of Houston’s FBI solved cold cases to research The Chase, I walked into the lives of real people. These people didn’t need a plot—they’d lived one. They didn’t need to experience a tragedy to grow and change into stronger people—they’d already been there and survived. My job was to take the truth and transform it into a novel that honored the victim and respected those who’d suffered.
The case was about an unidentified child who through neglect had starved to death and been discarded. Like an unloved pet. My story would not be about the crime but about those who wanted justice, the people whose lives were changed because of a vicious crime. Good people who treasured life and took a courageous stand.
The media coordinator at Houston’s FBI supplied me with DVDs of the case’s press conferences, the vic (victim’s) board, and answered countless questions. I massaged the real case slightly, but much of the first quarter of the book is truth. By the time I’d finished 100 pages, I was emotionally drained. From that point, I could create my own plot with the real case stalking me in the rearview mirror.
My characters are strong people, and I like them. My heroine is bestselling writer Kariss Walker. Before her career skyrocketed, she was a TV news anchor. She’d reported on the child’s death, and it’s haunted her ever since. She has to write the story to bring justice to the child, if only in fiction. The director of the FBI owes her a favor. My hero is Special Agent Tigo Harris. He’s a daredevil with a reputation of getting the bad guys. He’s involved in a gun smuggling case and doesn’t want to be bothered helping a woman writer learn FBI protocol. But he’s never forgotten the case either. A photo of the deceased child is in his desk drawer.
Kariss and Tigo journey into areas of Houston that I’d never venture, but they’re driven by a nameless child in a cold grave. Research spins out of control and the clues lead deeper into other crimes. Contracts are issued for their lives. When will it end?
I thought of the book as Castle meets Cold Case, and my goal to entertain, encourage, and inspire eased me into creative mode. But I couldn’t turn the vic board around.
I wonder if the child’s loved ones will feel like I did justice to the story. How can I let them know how the cold case touched me? Maybe the characters in The Chase show my passion for their pain. I hope so. Perhaps I should ask them.
Since my new book, The Chase, was based on a real news story that haunted me, I want to know what news story has had a profound impact on you, good or bad news? 9/11? Hurricane Katrina? JFK’s assassination? Head over to my Facebook page to tell me the story that has stuck with you or “like” the others posted there. Or leave a comment here for a chance to win an autographed copy of The Chase.*
Be sure to visit DiAnn at her website: www.diannmills.com and learn more about her and her books.
*Contest is open to US and Canadian residents only.