Unfortunately for the whole of humanity, I get most of my inspiration for plots from the headlines and real crime stories. And to make up for my being a creative leech, I give a face to the victims of crime and focus on the human spirit in the face of adversity. And my latest release, The Echo of Violence (Avon, Sept 2010), is no exception.
I sometimes watch a TV show called “Locked Up Abroad” on the National Geographic channel. One day, I saw the horrific tragedy of Martin and Gracia Burnham. The Burnhams were Christian missionaries who were abducted in the Philippines in May 2001, while at an expensive beach resort celebrating their anniversary. A terrorist group of Islamist Separatists called Abu Sayyaf took the Burnhams as well as twenty other hostages, holding them for ransom. Over a year later, Philippine commandos attempted to rescue the couple and a Filipino nurse. Two of the hostages were killed in the shoot-out and Gracia Burnham was rescued. Her husband Martin didn’t make it through the ordeal. More on this story can be found by clicking here.
I was also in the middle of writing my book when the incident at Mumbai occurred. I researched the details to add authenticity to my terrorists. For information on that tragic event, click here. I compared the facts of that shocking attack to various elements I had written into The Echo of Violence, things like the way the terrorists communicated with each other, their weapons and their tactics. And after consulting with my weapons expert, I had a cohesive story that felt ripped from the headlines.
But the real essence of any story lies in the emotion and the conflicts. So I pitted my terrorists against a compelling character who I still haven’t gotten out of my head or my heart. Jackson Kinkaid wouldn’t consider himself a hero, but in The Echo of Violence, he’s the only one standing in the way of a cruel fanatical terrorist leader, bent on making a name.
Kinkaid is a dark mercenary, riddled with guilt and grief over a tragedy in his past. He’s a broken, deeply private man. And in a self-destructive manner, he’s chosen to live life on the edge and risk everything to secretly steal from the dangerous men he works for—the drug cartels—and use that money to fuel his vendetta as well as various charities. Like a modern day Robin Hood, he funds worthwhile causes, including a Haitian missionary school run by his only real friend, Sister Kate. But when a group of masked terrorists attack the Catholic nun’s fundraiser and take hostages—an event where Kinkaid is the guest of honor—the race is on to save Sister Kate and the others.
Kinkaid tracks the terrorists long enough to witness them leave Haiti, bound for the mountains of southeast Cuba, treacherous terrain peppered with terrorist training camps. And with Cuba bracing for a hurricane and videos of the hostages’ beheadings being posted online, time is running out.
Shot in the raid, Kinkaid is battling a raging infection to stay on his feet long enough to rescue Kate. Being wounded has forced him into asking for help from the only organization he knows is capable of conducting the rescue, but he doesn’t trust Garrett Wheeler, the leader of the covert group, the Sentinels—and with good reason. To manipulate Kinkaid, Garrett assigns operative Alexa Marlowe to lead the mission, someone who once had feelings for Kinkaid. And when Alexa’s orders put her at odds with Kinkaid rescuing Kate at all cost, no longer is the mission about saving one life. Far more is at stake.
The Echo of Violence is book #3 in my Sweet Justice thriller series. Each book reads as a standalone plot, even though the characters’ and story lines continue. And the next time you see a compelling news story or read a headline that grabs your attention, you might have the makings for a great book.
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