What went into writing The Campaign?

In a nutshell, my latest thriller, The Campaign, takes place over a 48 hour period during which all three of the presidential candidates in the race for the White House are killed. Our hero is Dallas Police Chief Scott Turner, who must lead the investigation into the deaths while trying to cope with losing his mother, who is only days away from dying of cancer.

I first thought about the plot of the book several years ago. In fact, I wrote the first version of The Campaign back in 2006 and I went so far as to narrate an audiobook version, hoping to market it during the 2008 presidential campaign. But the funny thing was, after hearing myself read it out loud, it didn’t have the suspense and flow that I thought it should. The main character was someone that readers couldn’t root for, he wasn’t sympathetic enough. So I shelved it.

Then, my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In her final weeks in 2010, she came to live with my family and I while she received hospice care. One of the ways that I dealt with that experience is writing about it, everything from her daily medications to the wonderful moments we shared recalling the good times and bad. After she passed, I reflected on how best to honor her memory, this woman who had been there every day for me. As she was a lifelong book lover, I thought there would be no better way than to base a character on her and to show readers the kind of tough, yet relentlessly loving person she was. Having never cared for someone in hospice, I also wanted to include that experience in case readers wanted to get a glimpse of how to it works. Even though The Campaign is a work of fiction, the way hospice works in the book is how it works in real life (well, except for a few things thrown in to heighten the suspense. The book is, after all, a suspense thriller.)

So what went into The Campaign? I took everything I have inside me – the extent of my background in the political world, my knowledge of police procedures, and the life-changing event that was my mother’s death – and put it down on paper. I think that in order to write our best, we need to let our emotions spill out on our pages. We should laugh out loud at what we conjure up on our computer screens. Anger that spills out onto our pages should make us want to pound our desks. Those passages that showcase sadness should make tears fall on our keyboards. For it is when we capture that emotion that our characters truly come to life. It is those times that we know we have not just a good book, but a great story.

And if you’re interested in downloading The Campaign the Kindle edition is only 99 cents. Download it here.