My mother’s did the day she was walking down the street in Austin, Texas, and the woman beside her was hit by a sniper’s bullet. The gunman was Charles Whitman—the original school shooter—and the ensuing 96-minute ordeal took the lives of sixteen people and robbed a town, and a nation, of its innocence.
Whitman’s 1966 shooting rampage on the University of Texas campus made a lasting impact on my mother, and I heard the story of that terrifying day many times growing up. We visited UT frequently for football weekends, and I remember walking across campus with my mother and her pointing out the bullet holes in the concrete balustrades (some are there to this day) and the place on the main drag where she was standing when the shooting broke out.
People often ask me where my story ideas come from, and in the case of my new book SNAPPED the inspiration is very personal. The book opens with a sniper scene. My mom’s experience helped me write the character of Sophie, the story’s heroine, who gets caught in the crossfire.
The hero of the story is Jonah, a member of the SWAT team called in to confront the shooter. Having never stormed a building and taken down an armed assailant, I decided to do a little research on this topic. I interviewed a police sniper whose job it is to train–day in and day out–for the moment when people’s lives are at stake and there is only one chance to get it right. Wow, do those guys have a stressful job!
The day I began the story, I went to the UT campus and walked the crime scene. Once I had a feel for how I wanted to begin, I hiked over to the student union, sat down with my laptop, and wrote the first chapter of SNAPPED.
This book–which I dedicated to my mom–is very personal to me. I set out to take readers on a journey that begins in a very dark place, goes through twists and turns, and ends in a brighter spot.
I’ve been thrilled with the early reviews for this book, including a 4.5 star review from RT Book Reviews, which named SNAPPED a Top Pick for September. And this feedback from BookPage made me smile, too:
“SNAPPED is romantic suspense at its best.”
To celebrate the book’s release I’m giving away a $20 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of SNAPPED. Leave a comment for a chance to win!
SNAPPED (Pocket Star Books)