Hilary Norman tells us how she was inspired to write Mind Games, and how she came up with her protagonists – homicide detective Sam Becket and his child psychologist wife, Dr Grace Lucca.
Mind Games was, in some ways, a watershed book for me. Having begun my writing life with big family sagas – always with dramatic, often bloody, climaxes, my books had become increasingly suspenseful, my ‘body count’ steadily rising. I felt ready to write a full-blown thriller, but my then publishers weren’t keen on the idea of my switching.
We struck a compromise with my first thriller, If I Should Die; Hilary Norman writing as ‘Alexandra Henry’, which was followed by two saga-suspense novels – and then, finally, I was given free rein to write Too Close, a California-based suspense about the horrific ramifications of obsessive love.
Suddenly I was being encouraged to write another thriller, and I headed for crime – location Florida – which felt right.
The question ‘where did I get the idea from’ is one I can’t answer. With few exceptions to the rule, I can’t tell you where I was or exactly when the ‘trigger’ thought came along, and there’s never been an event, individual or location that has led directly to the next book.
Sam Becket, my Miami detective, and Dr Grace Lucca, child and adolescent psychologist, came to me as I was trawling the ether, though it was actually Cathy Robbins and her hideous plight which came to me first. The bloody opener that led to a fourteen-year-old being accused of her parents’ murder – that brought in Becket and Martinez from the Miami Beach Police Department, that also brought in Sam’s paediatrician dad, Dr David Becket, who recommended Grace to help bring Cathy out of her near-catatonic state.
And pretty soon, we knew all about the Beckets, understood how Sam, an African-American orphan, had come to be adopted by a Caucasian doctor and his wife, and had turned into an opera-singing, barmitzvahed Violent Crimes detective.
I knew right away that I’d fallen in love with Sam and his clan, and that after all I’d put them through in Mind Games, I wanted to stay with them – which was a first for me, never having had any urge to write a sequel before. But the publishers liked the fact that I wrote standalone novels, and that was fine because what they liked was crucial, and I had plenty of plots waiting to be dreamed up.
The next one along was Blind Fear, a horrifying story located in the UK, Connecticut and Manhattan. Seven books passed before I was given the go-ahead to get back to Sam Becket in Last Run – and since then, sequel has followed sequel, and I’m about to go over the proofs for the latest (titled Fear and Loathing) – the seventh in the series.
So, the answer to the question is that I got the idea for Mind Games from my thankfully quite fertile and decidedly warped imagination. I had an agent for many years, now retired, who regularly used to look at me and say: ‘I don’t know. You always seem so nice, but . . .’
Hilary Norman has twelve titles published by The Murder Room. Click here to view her works.