I’m going to make you wish you were dead.
Just a text. Seventeen-year-old Rebecca Hales tries not to worry. Probably a wrong number. Not really meant for her, and definitely not related to the crime she witnessed six years ago. Right?
Then two states away, a bomb goes off in her best friend’s locker. Soon Ryan is labeled a terrorist and runs to the safest place he knows—Rebecca’s house in small-town Wyoming. It doesn’t take long for the FBI to show up asking questions. Rebecca lies, of course, and says she hasn’t seen him.
Now she’s neck-deep in it with him, whatever “it” is. The only way out is to return to Vegas, where Ryan is a wanted man. The city of lies and illusion tests Rebecca’s wits as she struggles to find the person who framed Ryan and why.
Is Rebecca’s text linked to the bombing? And what does it have to do with a six year old murder? Rebecca needs to find out before she loses Ryan—and her own life.
The Formidable Foe: A Thriller Writer’s BFF
The recipe for a great romantic thriller includes several things. You need a strong, likeable protagonist. You need high personal and public stakes. You need a swoon-worthy romantic hero.
But, you also need a seemingly unconquerable antagonist. James Fray, author of How to Write a Damn Good Novel, asserts that your plot is only as strong as your antagonist.
I spent some time studying James Patterson’s villain in Cross. The guy does despicable things, and you hate him for it, but his voice is genuine, and when you’re in his head you can see his twisted view of reality. The worst villains don’t see themselves as villains.
When I set out to create the plot behind the plot in Before They Find Us, I knew that fifteen-year-old Mary couldn’t pull this off alone. I knew I had to give her a strong accomplice. When crafting Wade’s character, I wanted him to be multifaceted. Rebecca had to fear and hate him, but Mary had to adore him.
Usually, I don’t have pictures of characters in mind when I create them, but with Wade I needed a model. So, I searched around on the web and pulled pictures of Jax from Sons of Anarchy.
This character is endearing, but he creeps me out. This was the kind of guy I wanted Wade to be. I hung photos of Jax around my office. On the one hand, I spent time writing about him as if I were Mary—completely infatuated and wanted his help. Then I switched sides and wrote from Rebecca’s point of view—seeing Wade as a threat. When it came to the scene with Chris and Wade in the hotel, it would have been easy to make Wade all evil, but I wanted him to retain the humanity that Mary loved. The result came out scarier than I imagined. Here is a guy that can do terrible things and justify his means because of the end. He’s likeable in conversation, has his own twisted code, but won’t hesitate to kill someone.
As an author, I’ve learned that antagonists are far more important than we think they are. I have a love-hate relationship with all my antagonists. If they are going to be effective on the page, they have to be likeable and remorseless.
Get to know Wade in the pages of in Before They Find Us, now available at all major book outlets.
Michelle A. Hansen was raised in southeastern Washington. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in English teaching from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and taught high school English for six years.
Michelle loves Pepsi and Doritos more than chocolate. She loves summertime and hates to be cold. She has had three near-death experiences. She’s addicted to office supplies and has an irrationally large stash of pens and notebooks.
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