The Dead Girl Under the Bleachers A Craven Falls Mystery Book 1 by Donna M. Zadunajsky Genre: YA Mystery
Three dead bodies…
The quiet town of Craven Falls is depleting in population. One by one…
Scarlet Fitzgerald thought it would be fun to play a game on Laura Stevenson, a nobody at Craven Falls High. But what happens when the game unleashes buried secrets Scarlet doesn’t want anyone to know? Secrets that could get someone killed, including herself.
Three can play a game, but one of them ends up dead…
I bent down, slipped off my high heel shoes that were sinking into the mud, and peered over my shoulder, scanning the football field. Darkness loomed like a haunted cemetery, as if waiting for the dead to rise. I couldn’t see a damn thing in front of me or behind me.
Water splattered behind me. I knew I had to get out of here fast.
I turned around too quickly and stumbled forward. My foot had caught the fabric of my homecoming dress, causing me to trip, but managed to catch myself before falling completely to the ground. Once I righted myself, I took off running again.
The light posts that stood along the edges of the field casted a faint glow, but it wasn’t enough for me
to see where I was going. Suddenly, a lightning bolt shot across the sky, lighting my way. Up ahead I could see the bleachers. The same bleachers I had sat on since the beginning of high school at Craven Falls High.
It was where all the football games were played in our small, quaint town. It was also the only place to hide from the person that was chasing me.
“I’m coming for you, bitch!” the voice closing in on me hollered.
I didn’t stop; I just kept running until the connection of something hard hit my head, sending shock waves of pain through my skull and down my spine. My eyes squeezed shut, an instant reaction to the pain coursing through my cranium. The automatic reflex of my hand went to my head. Feeling something warm and wet. I was sure it was blood and not the rain that had begun to fall from the sky. I didn’t have time to think about how the person had caught up to me so fast.
I had to run.
I had to hide.
By the time I made it to the bleachers, hoping to find shelter, I was hit once again; this time on the back of my leg. My high heel shoes and clutch purse flew out of my hand as I fell to the ground like a hundred and twelve-pound bag of potatoes.
I tried to scream, but the sound was knocked out of me when my body smacked the wet, hard ground.
This was a nightmare. A bad dream. I couldn’t be living this, but I was, and it was more real than anything I had ever experienced before in my life.
I grabbed my right leg as the pain shot through my body. Undoubtedly, my leg was broken. Shattered in several places. I crawled, dragging my right leg across the wet, freshly cut grass, gritting my teeth as I slinked along, fighting the sharp, throbbing pain coursing up my leg and into my back. I would be killed if I didn’t find safety, but the bleachers wouldn’t save me, only camouflage me behind the monstrous metal seats, still I moved toward them.
Once under the bleachers, I collapsed onto my side. My breath rushed out in quick gasps. I couldn’t go any further; not only from the pain, but because I was losing blood from the large gash I had on my head.
Someone wasn’t just trying to hurt me. They wanted me dead.
Water slid between the metal slats of the bleachers and fell onto my face. The rain changed from a light drizzle to pouring down in an instant, dropping onto my bloody split-open head. My vision was hazy as I looked out the corner of my eye, blinking away the water as it fell harder from the sky.
My head pulsated from the blow I’d received just minutes ago. A headache wasn’t surfacing; it was already there, shouting out obscenities. My reflexes took over when a movement to my left appeared. I curled myself into a fetal position, which caused me more excoriating pain, but I needed to shield myself from what looked like a wooden bat about to slam into my body.
“Please, stop!” I screamed as the bat came down, shattering the bones of my ribs. Sharp pain surged through me. It became harder to breathe as I sucked in an agonizing breath and cried out again, “I’m begging you. Please stop!”
They didn’t stop.
They weren’t going to stop until they ended what they had started. This person would finish the job, and I would die here. No one would ever know the truth of how I died. School was closed on Monday. By Tuesday, who knew what I’d look like after lying in the wet, soaked grass for two days?
The blows came down hard one after another, hitting every part of my body. I could feel the anger in each hit. I believed my attacker hated me with everything they had inside of them. I wasn’t going to leave here alive. They would make sure I didn’t because I knew the truth about what they had done.
I forced in another breath, holding it as I laid immobile on the ground.
It was as if the world had stopped around me.
The rain dripped onto my head and ran down my face, mixing with my salty tears. I looked out the corner of my eye, not one, but two shadows were standing over me. Had there always been two people chasing me?
The second shadow knelt in front of me. I drew in haggard breath, nearly choking. My lungs were screaming for me to exhale as piercing pain sliced through my chest. I couldn’t believe with my own eyes who was kneeling in front of me!
“I’m sorry, but this needed to be done,” the voice said.
“Yeah, you should’ve known better than to fuck with us, bitch!” another voice echoed.
Immediately I recognized the voice and I knew who had beaten me to a pulp, leaving me broken and bleeding, unable to move. It was the one person I truly hated with every essence of my being.
I blinked several more times, unsure of what I was seeing. My vision was not only distorted by the rain and the darkness surrounding me, but from the blow to my head, making things blurry. I was hoping I had imagined it all, but I hadn’t.
The person stood and walked away without a single goodbye, as if I meant nothing to them. The faint sounds of laughter were drowned out by the raindrops that splashed off the metal bleachers all around me as my killers left me here to die.
Another drop of rain fell from the black, thunderous sky above and landed on my body, soaking my already wet and ruined clothes. Pain surged through me, like a fury of fire.
I couldn’t move.
I was afraid to move.
My body was shattered.
Broken into pieces as I was left to die here under the bleachers.
No one would come looking for me, not on a night like tonight. Not in the pouring rain. I sluggishly blinked as I drew in one last and final breath, staring out at the football field.
2 Laura One Month Earlier
I closed the door to my locker and turned just as Rachel Sawyer and Scarlet Fitzgerald, the Queen Bees of Craven Falls High, came strutting through the entrance doors of the school. They were both laughing as they paraded down the hall just like they did every day that school was in session.
They don’t talk to me; in fact, they don’t talk to any of the girls here unless they acknowledge them first. Not that I wanted to be in their circle. To be considered a slut or a stuck-up snob. I like who I am.
I like being the outcast.
If I stay who I am now, no one will bother me. I can be on the outside looking in and watching everything everyone else is doing. Besides, there are only eight months left before graduation. There was no reason to change my life now, right?
Who was I kidding? I’d be lying to myself if I said I wasn’t jealous of them because I am. They get to do whatever they want, and everyone looks up to them. They get invited to the best parties and date the hottest guys, like Travis Evans. He’s like the God of hotness. Is that even a thing?
I would give anything to go out with him. For him to be my boyfriend. I’ve pictured us together more times than I could count. He’d take me to the movies and the Homecoming Dance. We’d be crowned King and Queen at our Senior Prom.
My mind was wrapped around my thoughts as my body pivoted forward and my books went flying out of my arms. I watched as they soared through the air in slow motion like in an action movie. The pages of my books turning and flapping, then plummeting to the floor, scattering around me, as if the gravity was sucked out of the room. When I realized what was happening, I dropped to my knees—hard, knowing a bruise would appear later. But that wouldn’t be anything new. It would only match the bruises I already have.
I gathered my books and papers before they’d get kicked down the hall. I’ve seen it done too many times and was glad it wasn’t me, until now. Now, I was the idiot everyone was staring and laughing at, and glad that they weren’t me.
I glanced over my shoulder to see who had knocked into me. Kyle Tanner, a guy from the football team, swim team, and baseball team was standing behind me. He was also the biggest asshole in our senior class who got away with everything.
He looked down at me and shouted, “What the shit are you looking at? You better watch where you’re going, dweeb,” then joined in with his buddies as they all laughed.
I wanted to stand up, get in his face, and tell him he was an asshole who doesn’t even know what the word dweeb means. Of course, I don’t get in his face. I don’t say anything to him. That would be a death warrant and the end of staying invisible for the rest of my senior year. No, I needed to stay hidden until I could get the hell out of this town for good.
Kyle was also one of the popular kids. You don’t talk to them unless you’re one of them. Or unless you are spoken to and they want you to answer. Even if he did talk to me, I’d ignore him, which would make him mad. I hope he wasn’t expecting me to apologize to him. He was the one who rammed into me.
You get to know the people around you when your locker is next to theirs. Things other people here don’t see or know. I wanted to laugh because he thinks he’s God’s gift to women because that’s what he says to himself through the metal locker doors. “Yeah, she thinks you’re hot,” Kyle would say to himself.
Answering his own questions. I wondered what Scarlet would do if she knew the secrets, he kept from her?
After collecting my books, I stand and start to make my way down the hall when I hear, “Excuse me, but what do you think you’re doing?” I flinched, wrapping my arms tighter around my chest, squeezing my textbooks into me. God, I wished I had the power to become invisible.
I stopped in my tracks. I recognized the voice talking to me before I even turned around. Scarlet Fitzgerald spoke in her snobbish, annoying, high-pitched voice loud enough for everyone standing around to hear. She sounded like a pig squealing the way she talked sometimes.
She had always been the girl everyone noticed. She thrived on having everything her way. Though it was because of her dad, who was the Mayor here in Craven Falls. God, I hated her as much as I wanted to be her. To be her friend, but that would never happen, and it was probably best that I didn’t become her friend. Eight months was all I had, and I was out of here forever. Out of this small, unpopulated town. Good riddance Craven Falls.
Turning my head, I looked over my shoulder, and saw Rachel and Scarlet gawking at me. Without hesitation, I stepped aside and waited for them to pass. Scarlet tossed her red hair over her shoulder, lifted her head high as if she were trying to sniff the air as she went.
After they walked by, I headed to my first class, which happened to be with Scarlet and Rachel. I wasn’t sure what difference it made who got there first. Stay invisible, my head repeated.
≁ ≁ ≁
Although, it felt as if I had just sat down, the bell rang and class was over. I gathered my things and stood, walking out of the classroom. I jumped back, ramming my back into the metal frame of the door.
“Fuck,” I murmured, squeezing my eyes shut to eliminate the abundance of pain shooting down my back.
The pain I should be accustomed to since it’s all I ever feel anymore.
When I opened my eyes, Rachel and Scarlet were standing in front of me as if they were waiting for me, but that couldn’t be? Why would they be? I feared what they were going to do to me, but neither of them moved, which seemed to frighten me more.
“Hey, Laura. What are you doing after school tonight?” Scarlet asked.
My mouth dropped open and I quickly closed it. My eyes moved from Rachel to Scarlet. “Um,” I started to say and then began to stutter. “Wh… what do… do you mean, what am I doing tonight?” I sound beyond stupid right now.
“W… w… well,” Scarlet stuttered back, laughing directly at me.
I hated her more now than ever.
“We were wondering if we could like, get together and study math tonight. At your house,” she concluded, throwing one of her smiles onto her face as if it would win me over.
Did she think I was one of her guy toys and could persuade me to do whatever she wanted? “Math?” I questioned. My mind was racing faster than a roller coaster. Zipping up and down the hills and turning fast until the rush of the ride was over and I was climbing out of my seat wanting to do it all over again.
“Yes, Math,” Rachel repeated. “We have an exam coming up, and we really could use your help. You’re so good at it and…” she stopped and spoke again. “I know it sounds strange, Scarlet and I are talking to you because we never have before...” Rachel paused and swallowed.
My mind scrambled with thoughts. Rachel swallowing when she was talking was something she did when she was nervous. But why would she be nervous talking to me? Or was it because she was doing something she really didn’t want to do? How would I know if they were serious or not? Should I accept their invitation? Should I believe one single word they’re saying? Why are they even talking to me? Why do they want to hang out with me of all people? I’m a nobody. My mind was battling with too many questions I didn’t know the answers to. Did Rachel forget that we drifted apart at the start of seventh grade?
“We’d like to get together. You know, hang out after school. Do some homework. Talk about boys,”
Scarlet said, taking over the conversation as she tossed her hair over her shoulder.
“Oh… Uh,” I replied, trying to come up with an excuse as to why I couldn’t hang out with them, but I couldn’t and replied, “Sure, I guess so. That sounds great!” Sounds great, I scolded myself. It’s a horrible idea. Your mom will kill you if they come to the house.
At the end of the school day, Scarlet and I met Laura at her locker, then drove to Laura’s house. Scarlet pulled alongside the curb in front of Laura’s house. I looked out the passenger side window. The paint was peeling off the wood siding, making the house look weathered and old. I couldn’t believe how many years it had been since I’d been here at her house.
When we all went inside, the rooms were dark. You couldn’t see where you were walking. I was anticipating something to jump out at me, like in a haunted house. That sounds mean, but you’d probably say the same thing if you were in my shoes. The place reminded me of the movie Don’t Breathe. I was just waiting for a blind man to come chasing after us.
We talked until Laura’s mom showed up and ruined the mood. She looked older than I remembered.
Was she sick? Was she dying? I didn’t know. And how would I know since Laura and I weren’t friends anymore, but that was her choice not mine. She could’ve remained friends with me, but I know she couldn’t stand Scarlet.
I hadn’t really thought much about Laura since we went our separate ways back then. I’ve seen her in the halls at school, but she always slinked away, keeping to herself, especially in the past year. Maybe we weren’t meant to stay friends throughout the rest of high school. Besides, meeting Scarlet has been a lot of fun.
Scarlet has always been a good friend to me, even if sometimes I think she can be annoying and rude with her snobbish attitude. It was better to be Scarlet’s friend, than her enemy. She has ridiculed other girls for no reason. That’s why I’m a little afraid what she might have planned for Laura. It’s not like I can stop it from happening. Can I?
It was Scarlet’s idea to ask Laura if we could come over, but I also didn’t object either. Sometimes, Scarlet liked to play games on people. Games that ended up hurting them and the other kids would laugh.
I did suggest for her not to go too far, but when she looked at me with her blue eyes it was like looking into the eyes of something evil. She asked if I had a problem with the way she did things. Of course, I said no;
I was smart to stay off of Scarlet’s shit list.
After leaving Laura’s, Scarlet dropped me off at my house, and I went straight to my bedroom. I dropped my book bag onto the floor and threw myself down on my bed, staring up at the ceiling. I tried to picture my room the way Laura had hers with the two different color walls and the string of lights draped around the room, unlike mine which was just too dull. I couldn’t believe that Scarlet asked Laura who she used as the designer? What a bitch she was being to Laura. Scarlet knew Laura couldn’t afford someone to do her room like Scarlet can.
“Rachel,” my mom said as she popped her head in through the open door of my bedroom.
“Yes?” I questioned as I laid on my bed still staring up at the ceiling.
“Everything all right?”
“Yes,” I lied.
“Can you come help me in the kitchen with dinner if you’re not doing anything?”
I couldn’t refuse; besides I needed to clear my mind and not think about Laura. I needed to think of a way to get Scarlet to stop whatever she was about to do to poor Laura. I couldn’t explain it, but there was something not right with Laura and her mom.
After we prepared our dinner and it was in the oven, I drove to my brothers’ school a mile away. I have two twin brothers who are eight years old. My parents weren’t planning on having more kids, but she announced one day, “I’m having twins.” Sure, I was excited that she was pregnant. I had always wanted a sibling, or should I say two, although I wished they were a little closer to my age, but as the song says, “You can’t always get what you want.”
Once I had my brothers in the car, we drove back toward home. I slowed to a crawl, peering out the windshield of my car. Was I seeing things or was that Laura walking down the sidewalk in my neck of the woods? Her arms were wrapped across her chest as if she was cold. I wondered where she was going. She was far from where she lived. Her house was on the other side of town where the smaller homes were built. Where the less than average income families lived. I had never seen her out this way before, not since we used to hang out.
I decided to pull over to the curb and see if she needed a ride. Pressing the button, I powered down the passenger window. “Hey, do you need a ride?” I hollered to Laura.
She turned toward the car to see who was calling her. A look of surprise appeared on her face.
She stopped moving and turned her body toward me. There was blood on the side of her head and scratches down her arms. I threw the car in park and flung open the door. “Stay put!” I yelled to my brothers.
Then ran up to her and examined her. She’d been crying. Mascara was running down her face. I had never noticed that she wore makeup.
“What happened, Laura?”
It was strange; in that moment, black clouds rolled in and the rain started pelting down on us. Large clumps of hail the size of marbles spit at us in all angles. I assisted Laura to the car and opened the passenger door, helping her inside. Then I ran around the car and jumped in behind the wheel. My face and arms hurt from the hail that shot down from the sky.
Once inside, I turned and looked at Laura, but she was looking down at the floor and not at me. “Do you want me to take you home?”
She shook her head and whispered, “No, I can’t go home.”
“Okay, is there somewhere else I can take you?”
“I don’t have anywhere else to go,” Laura said, sniffling.
I decided without delay to just take her to my house and hopefully then, she would tell me what the hell was going on and what had happened to her.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror beside me, smiled, and tossed my red hair over my shoulder.
I tapped the end of my pencil on the notebook sitting in front of me while perched at my desk in my bedroom. This was something I did when I was thinking of a plan. A plan to humiliate poor Laura Stevenson in front of the whole school at Homecoming, which was in four weeks. All I needed to do was to get her to think I really did like her and that she was one of us.
Thinking back to earlier. I can’t believe she thought I adored her bedroom. That it was amazing! Like her room was better than mine because she did it all herself instead of using a designer to decorate like I did. Who did she think she was anyway? She wasn’t anybody special.
But that’s not my reason for wanting to humiliate her. No, she’s had this coming since Jr. High when she tried to tell Rachel that I wasn’t worth her time and wouldn’t be a good friend to her. Didn’t she know who she was messing with? That we can’t both have her? It’s her loss for losing her when high school started. Besides, Laura wasn’t pretty enough to be our friend. She wasn’t rich enough to hang out with us, but I was interested in seeing how far I could string her along.
“Scarlet, are you in here?” my stepmother Lianne asked as she opened my bedroom door. She never knocked. Just opened the door like it was her room, her house. She knows I don’t like her. Can’t stand her as much as she can’t stand being in this house with me.
She’s such a bitch. “Yes, what do you want?” I snapped. “Can’t you see that I’m working on homework, Lianne?” Didn’t she know that I don’t like to be bothered when I’m in my room? I’ve told her many times since she married my father, which I know for a fact was just to get her grubby hands on his money, not to come into my room. God, she was so annoying!
My father is a powerful man who gets what he wants. Maybe that’s where I get my confidence from.
He preaches to me daily, “Appearance is everything, Scarlet. Don’t let them see you fall. One mistake and you will be looked down upon. I won’t have a daughter who isn’t successful or popular.” I will succeed and be first at everything. That’s just who I am. I’m a Fitzgerald, the Mayor’s daughter. And this bitch, Lianne, needed to go before she ruined everything!
“Scarlet Marie, you know I can have your car taken away from you for a week,” Lianne said in a stern, yet evil voice.
“What?” I yelled. “You can’t do that! You’re not my mom!” How dare she use my middle name. Only my father could say it.
“Watch me!” she hissed. “You’re not going to get anywhere in life with the way you talk to people. If it were up to me, I’d send you to a boarding school a thousand miles away, but lucky for me you’re graduating soon. So, I don’t have to wait much longer,” Lianne said a smile spreading across her face. “It will be a blessing to have you out of my house.”
“Your house?” I questioned. “You think just because you married my father that you own this house?
That you own me?” Over my dead body. I wanted to tear this bitch apart but knew if my daddy heard me talking to her this way, I would be in big trouble. He was the enforcer of punishments in this house, and if I backtalked my stepmom, all hell would break loose. Besides, I can’t lose my car! I refuse to take the bus to school. If I did take the bus, my classmates would laugh at me, like all the other dorks that have to take the bus since they don’t have a car. But I can’t. I’m Scarlet Fitzgerald, the Queen of the school. I say who can and cannot do something!
“Lianne, I’m sorry,” I replied in a soft tone, even though I wanted to stab my eyes out.
She smiled at me, knowing that I was probably full of shit and didn’t mean what I was saying. “Your father is home and we’re about to have dinner. Finish what you’re doing and come downstairs, please,”
Lianne said leaving the door open. “Annoying. bitch,” Lianne muttered before walking down the hall.
I stared at the now empty doorway, hoping she would catch on fire or fall down the marble staircase and break her neck, but that was wishful thinking on my part. Did she think I couldn’t hear her? Or maybe she wanted me too, so I would get pissed off and start something when my father was home. Normally I would but I had things to do right now.
I went back to finishing what I was writing. The first thing I needed to do was to make sure that Laura believed she was one of us, then I would slowly Pick. Her. Apart.
≁ ≁ ≁
Later that night, I texted Rachel to see what she was doing. We always texted goodnight to one another.
I don’t think we’ve ever gone a whole day without talking or texting.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
Two minutes later, she still didn’t text me back. It’s unlike her not to get back to me right away. I tapped my favorites list on my phone and speed dialed her number. The phone rang three times, then four. She still didn’t answer. By the sixth ring it went to voicemail. I have never, since we’ve known each other, had to leave her a voicemail, and I’m not about to start now.
I pressed “end” and sat back on my throw pillow resting against the headboard. Where was she? My mind was racing, thinking the worst. We had just seen each other a couple of hours ago. What could have possibly happened in that amount of time?
I opened her contact information in my phone to see if I had another phone number. I didn’t because I have never called her house phone or had ever needed to call it since we have cell phones. Then, I’d have to speak to whomever answers the phone and pretend that I cared to talk to them, when all I really cared about was talking to my best friend Rachel.
I send her one text after another.
“Please text or call me, ASAP!”
“Is everything okay?”
“What is going on?”
“Why aren’t you texting me back?”
But I get no reply from her.
Rachel almost always has her cell phone plugged into the charger next to her bed. Then, it clicked in my head. Maybe she was in another room and left her phone charging. That had to be it. I was sure of it.
Rachel wouldn’t intentionally not answer my texts, right? No, I was certain that wasn’t the case.
There had to be something going on in that house of hers. Maybe her parents wanted to spend quality time with her. Gross, I thought to myself.
Sometimes, I honestly think they don’t like me for some reason. But what was there about me not to like? I was the best thing that ever came into Rachel’s life. We are like sisters.
My phone beeped. I had a text.
It was from Rachel:
“Sorry, my phone died. Can’t talk now. See you at school tomorrow.”
My mouth dropped open. What the hell was that all about?
Donna M. Zadunajsky started out writing children's books before she wrote and published her first novel, Broken Promises, in June 2012. She since has written several more novels and her first novella, HELP ME! Book 1 in the series, which is about teen suicide and bullying.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I was born and raised in Bristolville, Ohio. I have always wanted to write ever since I was a teenager because of Stephen King. You never saw me without one of his books when I was growing up. I started writing children’s books shortly after my daughter was born in 2005 and then went into writing my first novel. I have written seven children’s books, six adult novels, two novellas, and three young adult novels. I’m working on another YA book.
What are some of your pet peeves?
When people don’t clean up after themselves, commonsense, not using a blinker when turning or merging into the next lane
Where were you born/grew up at?
Bristolville, Ohio. It’s a small town, I had 100 in my graduating class, but only because the town next to us merged after a school levy not passing. It’s in the country. It is quiet and peaceful there, but not a whole lot to do but fish or hunt, which I miss fishing.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
Definitely with my daughter, but as I sat and thought about the question, I would want my mom, dad, sister, nieces, grandma, and best friend Angie to spend the day with.
Who is your hero and why?
My father because he’s the greatest person I know. He has always worked hard and provided for us. He’s someone I can talk to about anything and everything. He’s intelligent and has always been there for me, even when he doesn’t know it.
What are you passionate about these days?
Writing and reading
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I read and work on puzzles. Watch TV, work on crafts while listening to either an audiobook or music.
How to find time to write as a parent? My daughter is an adult now, so I have no young children running around. But I do work fulltime so I get up at 5 a.m. in the morning to write before work and I write every Saturday and Sunday for 4-5 hours.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
I’m not very good at describing things about myself, so I took it upon myself to ask my daughter and some friends and here’s what they had to say: Kindhearted, Strong, compassionate, smart, sensitive, and very creative.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After my second book Not Forgotten was published.
Do you have a favorite movie?
Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
Not Forgotten and Twisted Secrets
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
What inspired you to write this book?
I don’t know about inspired, I just love teen drama and what’s more interesting than finding a dead girl under the bleachers. You hear about teen girls having some kind of disagreement and then one of them stabs or kills the other girl because of jealousy. There was a news story, I think back on the early 1990’s when two girls brutally killed another teenage girl and it has stuck in my mind all these years. I can’t really remember why they did it.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in your books?
The book that I’m touring right now is The Dead Girl Under the Bleachers, but the one character that intrigues me the most is Reece Garran from Twisted Secrets. Reece is a male character that I love and have placed him in the Craven Falls series. He’s not only handsome, but intelligent. He’s good at finding things out, although he’s not a detective. He’s an ex-military man and works at the local grocery store during the winter months and does construction in the summer. He’s in the books Buried Secrets and The Body in the Road, which come out later this year. Book 2 and 3 of the Craven Falls series.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
Laura is the outcast who gets bullied by Scarlet. Rachel was once Laura’s friend, but wanted to be popular and now hangs with the Queen Bitch, Scarlet. Like I mentioned in another question about three girls and two of them killing the other, this is what I had in mind, but the story has a twisted ending.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
The names usually come to me when I’m writing. Sometimes the name changes, but most of the time the name fits the character.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I love writing about high school drama.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
Scarlet is a handful and only thinks of herself, where Laura is more like I was in school. She was bullied and pretty much keeps to herself. Rachel is like the monkey in the middle. Once was friends with Laura, who she traded in for Scarlet, but realizes what a bitch Scarlet is and makes a change.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel? Broken Promises is a book based on a broken heart from a marriage. The novel is 75% based on real events of my marriage with an abusive alcoholic.
Who designed your book covers?
My novel book covers are designed by Travis Miles. My children’s book covers were designed by Judith Bicking.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes. I won’t lie because writing is a hard job. If it were easy everyone would be a writer. The more you read the better at writing you will get. The more you write the easier the concept will be for you. Like they say, practice makes perfect.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
The Dead Girl Under the Bleachers would be a great fit for Zoey Deutch and Halstson Sage
Anything specific you want to tell your readers? Book 2 will reveal secrets that weren’t answered in book 1 and book 3 will concluded the mystery of book 1 and 2 of the series. Everything will be answered.
How did you come up with name of this book?
I drove passed a high school and saw the bleachers and the title came to me as The Dead Girl Under the Bleachers. I’m not sure why I like to write about people getting killed, I just do. But I like reading teen romance books too, lol
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
The night of the Homecoming dance. Why? Because it’s when everything comes out. The who, the what, and the why.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Reece Garran, he is a character in Twisted Secrets and so hot. He would be fun to spend the day with doing whatever.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
HELP ME! Book 1 is based off of real characters as the story line is from real events. Some of my books are parts of my own life that I have placed somewhere in the book, but the book has nothing to do with me. Except for BROKEN PROMISES, which is my life with an alcoholic.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story, or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
My characters at times seem to take over the story and go in a different direction, usually for the better. Like I never know the ending until I get to the ending because what I have planned sometimes doesn’t work out.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
It’s a gripping mystery that draws you in guessing who the killer/killers are.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Many, but they are rough drafts
What did you edit out of this book?
A lot. The book ended with 91,000 words and is now at 75,000
Is there a writer which brain you would love to pick for advice?
Who would that be and why? Stephen King. That’s all there is to say. He’s Brilliant.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
Fly Away by Kristen Hannah, Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks, Misery by Stephen King, These Hidden Things, Before She was Found, and One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf, A Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
What book do you think everyone should read?
Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky
How long have you been writing?
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
As I write.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I do lots of research, though it depends of the plot of the story. In Family Secrets ‘Secrets and Second Chances’ Book 1 was about breast cancer and the main character worked for NASA, so a lot of research was done to know her education and what she was about to go through with the cancer. Every book is different.
Do you see writing as a career?
I do and hope that one day I can make a living just writing. It’s like having coffee in the morning. I can’t function unless I write something each day.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
I wish there were more literary agents that could and would give us self-publishers a chance. Just because we self-publish our books doesn’t mean they are poorly written. I spend a great deal of money having all my books edited very well before I publish them. The book cover is very important to me as it is the first thing you see before picking up the book and reading the summary. I am one who based a book on its cover.
Do you read yourself and if so, what is your favorite genre?
I love to read books. I read every day. Mystery book and YA romance stories. Oh, and books based on real life events.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
Write in silence because I get lost inside my head and I can’t think with interruptions.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
One, usually, but if an idea comes to me, I will write it down.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
Pen or typewriter or computer?
What made you want to become an author, and do you feel it was the right decision?
I love to write stories. Yes, I do believe it’s the right decision because only I can write the stories I’ve written.
A day in the life of the author?
I get up at 5 a.m., write until 7 a.m. get ready for work, leave the house at 7:20 a.m. Come home at 5 p.m. Shower, cook, watch some TV, read and go to bed around 9:30 p.m.
Advice you would give new authors?
Read and write as often as possible
What makes a good story?
The plot and characters
What are you currently reading?
The Upside of Falling by Alex Light
What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I have a plot that comes to me and then start writing and let the rest come to me.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Not having enough time to write in a day.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I’m an original writer
If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
Start writing in high school. Take more creative writing classes
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
If the words are coming out of me, 6 months
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