Tara Taylor Quinn On Psychological Twists

Tara Taylor Quinn’s romantic suspense series, The Chapman Files, has been full of unexpected twists and turns. This is especially true for Kelly Chapman’s latest adventure, this month’s The Fourth Victim. During this stop on the author's blog tour, she shares how her own life was affected by the psychological nightmare of domestic abuse, what she is doing to support a shelter in need and how readers can get also lend a helping hand. And don’t miss the author’s special giveaway at the end of the post! 

This next week sees the launch of The Fourth Victim. It’s the fourth book in The Chapman File series, out this fall, from MIRA books. Expert witness psychologist Kelly Chapman connects all four books. Each book is one of her cases, one of her files. I didn’t set out to become any particular type of writer (other than a writer of romantic fiction for Harlequin.) I didn’t know if my stories would be light and fluffy or suspenseful, or deeply emotional or paranormal. I didn’t choose the stories. The stories chose me. All fifty-five of them. Fifty-five books have generated hundreds of reviews. And the one constant, in the things I read about my work, is that there are psychological twists and turns. I don’t really see the twists and turns. In my mind, the roads are all long country stretches of emotional depth with the occasional bend or curve. But when Kelly Chapman presented herself in my mind and announced that she had some stories to tell, the fact that she was a psychologist garnered my immediate attention. “I’m known for psychological twists and turns,” I tell her. “Yep,” she says with a smile. (Yes, I saw the smile in my mind.)

I was less than a chapter into the first book, The First Wife when I understood that smile. The book was a psychological land mine. I had a successful and confident heroine who was completely astute and aware and strong and somehow missed the fact that her ex-husband had been married to another woman while he’d still been married to her. Furthermore, she’s been called to testify at her ex’s trial because he’s been accused of murdering wife number two. The reason she’s been called to testify? There are questionable police reports. The prosecution believes my strong confident heroine was a victim of domestic abuse. Talk about a psychological twist. I tried to get her out of that one, but I couldn’t.

The Second Lie deals with the psyche of a young girl, a fourteen year old, who has matured by necessity. She considers herself an adult – and in many ways is more of a responsible adult than the mother she half raises. However, when an adult male notices the fourteen year old, she’s a pubescent kid, thinking he loves her. But that’s not all. There’s this female cop whose father was killed due to an obsession with getting rapists off the street. The female cop is also obsessed – with the fact that there’s a meth lab in her small town. No one believes her. They think she’s too much her father’s child. She can’t produce hard evidence, but she has enough circumstantial evidence to know that she’s right. Or is she just obsessed?

The Third Secret is filled with mind games. So much so that I didn’t even know what was going to happen, or why things were happening part of the time. A man spends enough years as a covert ops agent, creating identities for himself, lying to get information that will save his country, and pretty soon, the truth is hard to delineate. Or is it? And there’s a defense attorney who is so successful she starts to worry about what kind of contribution she’s making to society. Is she protecting the innocent wrongly accused? Or sending criminals out to hurt innocent people?

And then there’s The Fourth Victim. Talk about a psychological twist. This is Kelly’s own story and when the psychologist starts to doubt herself, nothing turns out as planned. In this case, one of the twists was on me. How in the heck was I going to write a romantic suspense with a heroine who was missing? Because Kelly took off on me about an hour after I sat down to write her book. She went skating and never came back. I have no idea what story she meant to tell me about herself, but I can guarantee you, it wasn’t the one we ended up with.

As it turns out, the psychological twists and turns don’t just end up in my books. Maybe they don’t even start there. I have them in my own life as well. And one of them turned in a rather bizarre fashion this summer. I was asked to write my own true life love story. It’s an amazing story and some people knew enough bits and pieces to think it would make a good book. No one knew the whole story. There were things I didn’t talk about ever. And I was being asked to come clean.

As life would have it, I was being asked to come clean at the exact time that I was raising money for the fight against domestic abuse. Kelly Chapman prompted me to take a hard look at the subject in The First Wife. But I’d visited it before, at the request of Harlequin, in a More Than Words volume for charity. In that project I wrote a fictional novella based on the life and work of Sandra Ramos, founder of the nation’s first battered women’s shelter. Sandra started out housing women in her living room. Today her shelter, Strengthen our Sisters, consists of ten houses filled to capacity with battered women and their children. And this year, in a down economy, SOS lost $400,000 in donations. I had to help. Kelly’s file for The First Wife gave me an in.

And there was my own book. My own story. It Happened on Maple Street speaks of a love that was born in an old house on Maple Street in Eaton, Ohio when I was a freshman in college. It’s the story of a love interrupted. It’s the story of my own abuse. And the miraculous story of a love that was strong enough to call two people back together. And to keep them together as they dealt with the horrific and tragic changes that life had wrought. Kelly Chapman, in her own insidious, nurturing and loving way, forced me to tell my own story as she told her own. She gave me the courage and the guidance and she did it at a time when SOS was in dire need. I hope, so desperately, that my stories are able to help raise awareness and money so that other abused women don’t have to wait thirty years to re-claim their lives as I did.

My husband, Tim, and I are donating five cents from every retail sale of The Fourth Victim in the month of December to Strengthen Our Sisters. And we’re hosting a charity skate/walk-a-thon, produced by Predator Speed Skate Club, on December 4th in Chandler, Arizona. We’re skating in it, too! You can register, or if you can’t be with us in Phoenix, sponsor a skater here: To sponsor a skater, simply click donate on the skate registration page and follow the prompts.

The fun doesn’t end there! The city of Phoenix is throwing us a launch party bash for The Fourth Victim, also on December 4th, from 1-3 in the afternoon, in the auditorium of the Burton Barr Library in downtown Phoenix. Public Welcome! Harlequin Books is broadcasting the party live on line so that every single one of you can attend! There will be blog tour door prizes being awarded – including a Kobo e-reader – and all you have to do to be entered in the drawings is to comment here. Sandra Ramos will also be there, speaking to us all, and you’ll be able to "hear" her message online as we listen in Phoenix.

Many authors are offering giveaways for the door prizes. If you’d like to do so, please email Barbara White Daille, 2011 RT award nominee, is one of the skate sponsors. RT BOOK REVIEWS is also contributing giveaways. Thank You!!!

This post is brought to you as part of The Chapman Files International Blog Tour.

There’s an item from our new book, The Third Secret, hidden on the tour with us. Guess the item to enter the drawing to win it! Today’s clue: They’re small enough to fit in your pocket. Send all guesses to staff@tarataylorquinn.com. To see previous clues visit blog sites listed at http://www.tarataylorquinn.com. Guess as many times as you’d like!

Next tour stop: Tuesday, November 23, 2010. True Vows: http://maplestreetbook.com.We hope to see you back here! The more blogs you visit with us, the more chances you have to win! Every time you comment your name is dropped in the bag for the prize drawings.

For weekly blog tour dates, visit http://www.tarataylorquinn.com. Or to have the weekly schedule sent directly to your email, send request to staff@tarataylorquinn.com.

- Tara Taylor Quinn

You can check out e-books of all of The Chapman File stories at amzn.to/bmJzp4 and be sure to mark your calendar, The Fourth Victim goes on December 1st!