As I’ve already shared on my “world page” for Girl on the Run, I am known for my cozy mysteries. But before I wrote cozy mysteries, I wrote thrillers and suspense. In fact, this book was written before my first cozy was published. Why publish this story? Because it haunted me. Why now? Because it needed a major rewrite and this was the year to do so.
Growing up, I faced a number of challenges, so for this story I decided my protagonist shouldn’t have it easy, either. I chose to write about a woman, a therapist, who suffers a major setback when a young patient commits suicide. She questions her ability to treat others and decides to start over completely.
How many people do you know who have lost a sense of self and have started over?
With the hope of finding peace, Aspen, the protagonist, takes a job as a process server for her aunt’s detective agency in Lake Tahoe—the epitome of serenity. However, peace vanishes when her new best friend, a woman who was like a younger sister, is murdered.
In addition to losing a friend, I decided to give Aspen another hurdle. She struggles with trust issues in regard to authorities because her parents were murdered years before and the killer never found. Believing the sheriff’s office won’t bring her friend’s murderer to justice, she jumps in. She doesn’t have the skillset to investigate, but she does have the grit.
As if giving her trust issues and a life change weren’t enough, I decided Aspen had to handle one more task. Her deadbeat sister shows up and leaves her fragile daughter in Aspen’s care. Aspen is divorced. She’s never raised a child, although her practice focused on troubled teens. What is she supposed to do?
By Aspen Adams:
I graduated Stanford University and became a therapist at the Bay Area Rehabilitation Clinic, aka BARC. I was doing fine, feeling like I was helping people, until my last patient, a fifteen-year-old artist, killed himself. I’d missed the signs. I’d failed him. Losing him nearly caused me a nervous breakdown. It didn’t help that my brief marriage had ended disastrously. I needed a change. My aunt offered me a solution.
I’m part Irish and part Washoe Indian, a peaceful tribe mostly located around Lake Tahoe and Dresslerville. My great-grandmother was full-blooded Washoe, My great-grandfather was a lumberman who had been on an exploratory mission in Lake Tahoe when they met. They were married for sixty years until my great-grandmother died.
Tahoe, which means big water in Washoe, is a large, freshwater lake set in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, bordered by California and Nevada. The area is home to many ski resorts and boasts a wide variety of outdoor recreation, including waterskiing, boating, hiking, and fishing.
I love to ski and swim and hike. I find I breathe easier living in Lake Tahoe surrounded by beauty and the incredible scent of pine trees. Am I ducking out on my responsibilities? I don’t think so. I hope not. I see a therapist every month, and we rehash a lot of the traumas of my past. I’m healing.
By Nick Shaper:
I’m a detective in the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. I’m dedicated to the job. I believe in right and wrong. I want the world to be a safer place. I transferred in from San Jose Police Department after an incident that I don’t care to discuss.
Oh, what the heck. You might as well know. A couple of years ago, my wife claimed spousal abuse. I’m not an abuser. I’ve never struck a woman. Truth? She was having an affair with my boss. Yep, my captain. What a jerk. My wife lied about what I’d done to her; my boss was the rough one. The truth came to light, but until then, I struggled within the precinct. It was hard to get women to work with me. As for my marriage, it ended. Working out the details of divorce, however, is a challenge.
Why did I transfer to Lake Tahoe? My sister was living here and struggling. She’s a recovering alcoholic. She needed my support. I needed her love.
What’s life like here? Not too shabby. I exercise a lot. It clears the cobwebs in my head. In particular, I love to snow ski or water ski. I enjoy the rush.