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A growing number of authors have had their books turned into comics, graphic novels and even manga titles, but we'd guess that few can also boast a daytime TV serial. That honor goes to suspense author Erica Spindler. Her 1995 novel, Red, which was rereleased last month by Mira, was such a hit in Japan, where it appeared as a series of graphic novels, that it was turned into a soap opera there in the fall of 2001.
"It was just amazing," says the author of 27 novels. "I went over there for 10 days and toured ... . They had it set in Japan, with Japanese characters, and that was very strange but a lot of fun. The most thrilling thing was when we took the book train from Tokyo to Nagoya. There in the train station were posters for Red the daytime drama, and the heroine had her hair dyed red. It was the most amazing thing to see my work advertised that way all over the train station."
That was a few years ago, but the author remains exceedingly
popular both abroad and here at home, where her latest suspense tale, Breakneck, is being released this month from her new publisher, St. Martin's. The book brings readers back to the town of Rockford, Ill., where Spindler grew up, and to the lives of detectives Mary Catherine (M.C.) Riggio and Kitt Lundgren, the female cop duo who were last seen in 2006's Copycat. "I loved working with two female leads. I really wanted to do a different take on the cop-buddy genre and to explore these two different women," says Spindler. "With Copycat, it was mainly Kitt's story; this time it's mainly M.C.'s story -- the younger of the two."
Breakneck picks up six months after the detectives' previous adventure. "Kitt is working on repairing her marriage, and life is moving on for M.C. She's met someone who is wonderful; they are in that place where the emotional and personal lives are coming together." But, in true Spindler form, things don't stay easy for our heroines for long, and Kitt and M.C. are soon searching for a madman who's killing young adults.
While this story takes place in the city where Spindler lived as a child, she also writes about her current residence, Louisiana, where she lives with her husband and two children. In fact, her experiences during Hurricane Katrina even
seeped into last year's Last Known Victim.
"I had finished my previous book while evacuated, and when I came back we were dealing with the clean-up. Day after day I was reading the paper and became fascinated with the refrigerator graveyard." Those dumpsites -- where fridges filled with rotten food and who-knows-what-else were cleaned and left after the storm -- became central in Last Known Victim.
Also, she says, "I was able to bring in these characters and reflect all of our lives in their reactions and the fallout from the storm, especially the police officer." She adds that even today, three years after the storm, when she runs into people she hasn't seen in a long time, they will ask, "Where were you for the storm, did you have any damage?
It gave real authenticity to the story and also was cathartic for me."
-- Faygie Levy
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