Imagine for just a moment that you’ve been snatched off an African highway by armed men and thrown into a hastily cleared out storeroom while they do God knows what to the rare wild dogs that you were transporting to the north of the country. The dogs that are your job, and your responsibility, and the thing that gives you purpose and represent two years of work now facing the bad end of a poacher’s weapon.
And you’re locked in a room, sore and sweaty and gummy-mouthed with thirst, with your wrists bound with cable-tie, totally and utterly powerless.
Imagine vacillating between blood-boiling rage and skin-chilling fear, and knowing that you need to escape to save your own life and also your dogs’. How long do you think it would take you to find your feet, clear your head and start thinking? Planning.
I like to imagine, much like my heroine Clare, that I’d be useless for about an hour or so but that, as the post-adrenaline crash started to wear off, my mind would kick into gear and my brain would start focussing—really focussing with a kind of acuity we don’t get to use much in day-to-day life—and ideas would start to come to me. Crazy ideas. Inconceivable or terrifying ideas but very necessary, very urgent ideas.
Something—anything—has to be better than just laying down and waiting for the end, right? Above all else I really, really hope that I wouldn’t be the kind of person who wilts with despair and falls to pieces in a crisis.
This moment comes to me often—not just as a writer, but as a woman. My dreams are regularly full of similar situations where I have to best better, stronger, faster, maler opponents with nothing but the gifts the universe gave me—my smarts, my understanding of human nature and, yes, my femininity.
In WILD ENCOUNTER Clare first tries to forge a bond with her captor (“..it would have to be harder to kill someone you’ve had a conversation with, right?”) and then when that’s not working for her she switches to seduction simply to be valuable to one of them for something, to bring something to the survival table, as it were. Eventually her brain starts working for her and she realises she has more than she thought at her disposal and her cunning escape plan comes into play. Hooray!
That plan came to me in one of my Nikki-against-the-world dreams. Almost exactly. Clare’s escape, her clever plan to outsmart the pack of badguys. The whole book was born there, in that scene.
So, if you haven’t already… ask yourself. What would you do? What wouldn’t you do? (and while you’re thinking about it, check out my WILD ENCOUNTER book trailer which asks the exact same questions…)
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