Today mystery author Eileen Carr comes clean about her "shameless" habit of using situations around her for writing inspiration. Do you want to know how soccer, alcoholism and the relationships that adults have with their parents all figure into her newest book Vanished in the Night? The author stopped by RT to answer this questions and more!
I get asked a lot about where I get my ideas. I think it would be easier to tell people where I don't get them. I am shameless. I don't think there's anything or anyone I won't mine for material for a book.
For instance, I mined my kids' soccer careers to come up with the setting for the school in Vanished in the Night. It gets trickier when you start stealing people's emotional lives.
Then you have to tread more carefully. The heroine in my book, Veronica, is the adult child of an alcoholic. For better or worse, I know a few of those. I've seen up close the kind of emotional havoc that family dynamic creates and the many brave ways people learn to cope with it. It is, however, deeply emotional material. I couldn't just pick one person, massage a few details and then base a character on him or her. I needed to look at what it really meant to be raised in that kind of household and the ramifications of having had that kind of childhood and then create a whole new person with those traits.
One thing that I see a lot is the tendency of those adult children to take care of everyone and everything around them. Because they had to take care of the people who were supposed to be taking care of them at a very young age, it becomes an ingrained habit.
At the beginning of the book, Veronica swears she is not going to bail her father out again. Yet the second he's in trouble, she is the first — and only — one to step up to protect despite his repeated verbal assaults and emotional abuse. She can't stop herself.
The one person Veronica isn't so good at taking care of? That would be Veronica. She is willing to take that abuse and does very little to protect herself. That's when Zach steps in. Although, boy, is he shocked when not only is Veronica not appreciative, she's pissed off at him for it!
So Veronica is not great at letting Zach take care of her. She has, like a lot of the adult children of alcoholics in my life, some trust issues. Just because someone has been there for you once, twice or even more than that, doesn't mean they're not going to let you down at some point. Better not to rely on anyone and then you're never disappointed. Luckily Zach is persistent and patient and shows Veronica that there may be another way to lead her life.
By the end of the book, Veronica is willing to accept help and support not only from Zach, but from a variety of sources in her life. It may not ever be easy for her, but it's still a huge set of steps from where she began her journey at the beginning of the book.
- Eileen Carr
You can pick up your own copy of Vanished in the Night in stores now. And of course, for more mystery coverage and a special look at the latest new novels in the genre head over to our Everything Mystery Page.