There’s something about puzzles. There’s just something inherently satisfying about the way the pieces fit together, that delightful click of mate finding mate, the reveal when you can finally see the full picture of what was previously just a handful of color-splotched cardboard.
It’s the same way with a great mystery. When you sink into one, the rest of the world narrows down to these little clues the writer drops along the way to the conclusion. You collect them, keep them tucked in your pocket or pull them out to let them slot together. Then that final missing piece settles into its spot and it all makes sense.
To do this, to give that experience to the reader for One Step Behind, I had to give up my status as a die-hard pantser and embrace the plotter lifestyle.
It can be said that writers fall into two groups: pantsers and plotters. The former writes by the seat of her pants (see what they did there) and the latter meticulously plots out every twist and turn.
Before writing this mystery, I would usually just let my characters take me where they wanted, no matter where I thought the story would originally lead. But if you want to leave those puzzle pieces along the way you have to know what the full picture looks like. Which means sometimes laying down the law with your stubborn hero or heroine.
In the end, it’s so much more rewarding and fun that way. For both writer and reader.
In One Step Behind, the clues keep adding up for Gemma and Lucas, but the pieces, frustratingly enough for them, just aren’t coming together to provide the answer.
They’re on the hunt for a dangerous villain who has disrupted both their lives in his pursuit of vengeance for a decades-old scandal. With all the false starts and dead-ends they feel like they’re spinning their wheels at times. But the villain knows they’re closing in, even if they can’t quite see the final picture just yet.
Falling in love can sometimes be the same way, too. You collect moments as puzzle pieces and sometimes it just seems murky and confusing, but when those moments come together in the right way they can create something breathtaking. That’s how it is for Gemma. Even if she’s a bit reluctant to even play the game to begin with. Quiet touches and easy banter and the deep trust that comes with putting your life in someone’s hands. Well, for her, it all starts to add up to a little bit more than just a fake engagement. Okay, possibly a lot more.
For Lucas, the puzzle isn’t love. The puzzle is Gemma. This vibrant contradiction of a woman, who dresses in dowdy gowns and can’t hold an interesting conversation to save her life, but has fire in her eyes and wit lurking at the corners of her mouth. It makes him want to figure her out, to deconstruct the final picture she shows the world and rearrange the pieces until they reveal the true Gemma underneath. And thanks to a murderous psychopath, he might just get the chance.
Check out One Step Behind to see if they ever get all the pieces to fit just right.
My life-long dream was to join the ranks of the superstar women who penned the romance novels — from historicals to contemporaries and everything in between — of which I could never quite get enough. I try to write the books I want to read, with spunky heroines who save the day while their heroes watch in awe and admiration.
My debut novel, One Step Behind, is being released Sept. 26 through Entangled Publishing. I’m so excited for everyone to read it!