Linda Howard talks about the inspiration behind her new novel Shadow Woman.
The inspiration for Shadow Woman is a kind of personal one: I've never rested easy in my body. When I think of myself in my imagination, it's almost as if I'm someone else, a woman who is shorter, has a different build, different facial structure. Whenever I look in the mirror, there's always a sense of mild shock; it isn't that I don't recognize myself, it's just that the reality doesn't match what's in my head. I'm not greatly connected to my body anyway; my identity is very tied to my brain and only loosely associated with my body, which I view more as a vehicle for getting me around. I try to take good care of my bodily vehicle because it's the only one I have, but I'm not overly attached to it.
With that in mind, one night while getting ready for bed I looked in the mirror and experienced the usual mild shock that my physical appearance didn't match my mental expectation. Normally I don't pay any attention, because it's been that way my entire life. But that night, that one night, what I call Writer's Brain kicked in and in a flash I was in a character, feeling what she felt when she looked in the mirror and didn't recognize herself. At all. At the same time, she knew she couldn't do anything unusual or "they" would notice.
In a snap, that same instant, I knew her name - Lizette Henry – and the title of the book. I knew she was missing part of her life, and her altered appearance was tied into the reason why she had a huge gaping hole in her memory, and why she was suddenly paranoid about the unknown 'they.'
Unfortunately, that was all I knew. I didn't know what was going on, I didn't know any of the characters around her, I didn't know the setting. Fortunately, however, that isn't unusual, so I was able to disregard all those little problems and run with the idea.
The more I thought about Lizette, the more I knew about her. The setting, just outside Washington, D.C., was chosen because it was the most logical place for the other characters to be. Yes, they could have stashed her on the other side of the country, but that would have made it more difficult for them to keep an eye on her, and the nature of the problem was such that they wanted the details contained to as few people as possible.
I can't, however, explain the hero, Xavier. He just is. I don't know his last name. For that matter, I don't know if Xavier is his last name. I tried to put him in a suit, but he completely rebelled; he's a jeans and boots kind of guy. He's lethal. He's protective. He's Xavier. Enough said.
The thrilling and mysterious new book Shadow Woman is out now!
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