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Broken is my tenth novel, which means I am a heck of a lot older than I thought I was. I'd like to start out this note by thanking my readers at the RT, because y'all have been some of the best readers a gal can ask for. I love hearing from you on Facebook and not many people know this, but the RT's read of the year is the only award I've ever won in the US, which means a great deal to me.
While I always write each book so that someone who's never read my stuff knows exactly where they are and what the characters are all about, long-time readers will hopefully appreciate my second story that combines my Grant County and Atlanta series. The book opens with a young student named Allison Spooner making her way around Lake Grant. It's freezing cold and raining, which seems like a nice climate considering I'm currently hiding inside from 100+ degree heat in Atlanta, but of course since she is in the first chapter of my book, life does not improve for Allison Spooner. The next chapter has Detective Lena Adams dealing with the fall-out of this crime, and further mayhem ensues wherein a suspect is killed in custody. Meanwhile, Sara Linton, back in town for the first time since she lost her husband, hears about the crime and calls in Special Agent Will Trent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to get to the bottom of what really happened to the suspect in Lena's custody.
The pleasure of writing a series is also the challenge, because I had to find a new way to talk about Grant County. The key was seeing the city through Will Trent's eyes. Will lives in the big city of Atlanta, and he has a city-dweller's arrogance toward small towns. We all know the provincial stereotypes, and while some characters certainly have their peccadilloes, Will is quickly disabused of that notion of a sleepy, small southern town. I liken Will's first look at Grant County to the first time I went back to my old high school. The building was so big and intimidating when I went there, but going back as an adult I was struck by how small it was, and how shocked I was to learn that the teachers didn't all live in the basement of the school and only come out when the bell rang.
The more books I write about Will, the more interested I am in his life. Raised in state care, Will is a high-functioning dyslexic who is very ashamed of his disability. Through the years, he's learned to hide his problem, and the coping skills he's developed have made him not just an interesting person but a good detective. In Broken, we learn a bit about his early years -- where some of his scars came from, why he doesn't like to leave dirty dishes in the sink. As the story develops, he finds himself caught between two very strong women -- Sara and Lena -- one of whom he has feelings for. Fortunately, Will is used to strong women, and he understands intuitively how to deal with each of them. He also has an empathy that perhaps gets him more tangled up in their lives than he would like.
I took the title for Broken from a Hemingway quote: "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places." Sara, Lena and Will are all broken in their own ways. This is the kind of story that tests their strengths as well as their weaknesses, and I hope readers enjoy the ride.
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