Message From The Author

Heather Graham

Book Title: PICTURE ME DEAD
Genre: General Romantic Suspense, Romantic Suspense

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Author's Message

Detecting a Tale

Heather Graham turns to some unsuspecting sources for her latest
romantic suspense—and turns out another surefire blockbuster!

It's amazing to me that I started my writing career with infants and toddlers—five of them!—actually typing sometimes with one hand since
I was holding onto a baby with the other. I desperately wanted writing to work, you see, because I was afraid that I couldn't do anything else. My major had been theater arts, and once three of the five had come along, I couldn't survive on what I was making doing dinner theater in South Florida at the time.
If you've seen "Soapdish," by any chance, and the scene at the beginning with Kevin Kline, you'll have an idea about just how great my professional life was going! It was time to stay home and make a living. This was wonderful because I wanted to be with my children.

It was horrible, as well, because I remain one of the world's worst housekeepers. I learned, of course, writing with little people needing attention is hard. Very hard.

They do, however, grow up. And they even become incredibly useful!

My children now range from 12 to their early 20s, and besides the simple rewards of having them, there are now perks to all this as well. One of them is getting to know a lot of the fascinating people in their lives who inevitably end up influencing my books—such as my son Shayne's longtime friend Bobby.

My March Mira release, PICTURE ME DEAD, is loosely based on Bobby's experiences. He was always a hard worker, going to school, bagging at Publix, waiting tables at Outback. Despite his schedule, he always wanted to spend time with his friends, and therefore slept through many movies. Bobby had two dreams: One was to become a Miami-Dade County police officer, the other to go to art school. When he graduated from high school, he knew there wouldn't be enough money to pay his tuition to art school, so he applied to the academy and got in. One day, while in basic training, he was caught doodling by a superior. Bobby thought he was about to be laid on the carpet, instead, the officer suggested he become a forensic artist.

This was the start of my storyline. Bobby became Ashley Montague, his general background twisted into hers. For the next several months, I heedlessly and ruthlessly grilled the poor boy on the details of his work and training.
I think he still cringes when he sees me, but he was great, answering questions with tremendous patience—even when he was asked the same thing three or four times just to make sure I had a real understanding of his answers. And he
was fascinating.

There were many heartbreaking things I learned as well. Some are in PICTURE ME DEAD. Bobby's first week on the job brought him to a home where a father
had killed his infant, putting him in the microwave to make him stop crying.

Listening to him, I acquired an even greater respect for the people involved
in law enforcement and emergency work. They face so much with compassion, without letting their own souls become so dark as to lose their own humanity. And I hope that respect is evident in PICTURE ME DEAD.

Putting my faith in Bobby's female doppleganger, I gave Ashley a mystery I had never been able to solve myself. I'd been driving with my daughter to Orlando on I-95, and the traffic suddenly stopped. As I skimmed along the one open lane, I looked out to see a young man in boxers down on the
pavement and couldn't get that image out of my mind.

Was he alive? Why was the young man wearing boxers?
Had he come from a car? Had he been running to the highway?
Or maybe from someone? I had no contacts in this area to find out more information. So I sent Ashley to it. She has many old family contacts on the police force, mainly her uncle, whom she lives with. The young man was an old friend whose blood test indicated drug abuse; Ashley refused to believe the evidence.
Her unofficial, unauthorized investigation links to a murder
case of homicide detective Jake Dilessio. Whether he likes it
or not, Ashley has gotten herself involved.

Since researching PICTURE ME DEAD, Bobby has spent a year in forensics and just returned to the academy. His experience has an incredible value to him, since he eventually wants to be a detective. At which time he'll once again cringe at my sight every time he comes to my house. But, hey, I'm helping him become a better police officer as well, teaching him patience and restraint! G

For more about Heather's romantic suspense novels, and to track her Shannon Drake offerings as well, visit www.theheathergraham.com.

Excerpt from Heather Graham's PICTURE ME DEAD

The accident had occurred in the far left lane. Ashley was driving in the lane directly next to it, the lane which led to the turnpike exit. As she moved along, she looked to the left, noting gratefully that it appeared that neither driver had been hurt.

But someone had.

As she crept along in her lane, she suddenly gasped.
T

here was a man on the highway. Sprawled in the lane, naked except for a pair of white briefs. He was face down, head twisted to the side, apparently dead. She'd gone through everything necessary to become a cop. Taken the tests, and seen all the videos regarding the type of horrors police were likely
to be up against at some point in their careers. But the sight of the man sprawled on the highway, naked except for his underwear, was still shocking and terrible.

"Oh, my God!" Karen breathed at her side.

"What?" Jan demanded.

Ashley's hands were glued around the steering wheel. The entire scene
was fixed in her mind. The immediate scope, first. The position of the two cars involved. The cop, and the cop car that had just arrived. The body. Sprawled. Naked except for those briefs. The head, twisted. The blood that seemed surreal against flesh and asphalt.

The cars, still veering, twisting off toward the median. And, across the median, cars slowing, braking, the sound of those brakes screeching. Far across the opposing lanes, someone standing, staring at all the traffic, as
if waiting for a light to change.

Ashley drove on past the body. It was still imprinted in her mind. As crystal clear and vivid as a photograph. The rest, merging, blurring. The cars in the opposing lane a kaleidoscope of color. The figure standing, watching the scene…

Just someone. Faceless. Dressed in… black.


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