We're all connected...and not necessarily just in this time-frame.
Edita A. Petrick - Romance and Mystery
"The Burning Spiral"
Plot Synopsis – romantic suspense/contemporary
At five thirty a.m., on a cold April morning, a suburban commuter stumbles over a body in an empty stretch of land used as a parking lot in one of Chicago's small suburbs, Park Ridge. The murder victim, Michael McGivney, is a young lawyer, apparently another commuter on his way to work. When detective sergeant Caroline Osych of CPD arrives on the murder scene, she wonders why the forensic investigator is dusting the victim's face. Surely it's not for prints? But when her partner Bill tells her that the victim's face is heavily tattooed with bizarre tracks, lines and squiggles suggesting road-works infrastructure, Caroline knows this case is not going to be closed that quickly.
At the morgue, pathologist Harry Farmstead discovers that in total darkness, with only a blacklight on, what literally jumps out of the victim's face, in sizzling neon green, is a topographic map of a metropolitan grid. Bill and Caroline match up the road and highway infrastructure and discover they're looking at a slice of Park Ridge metro grid. In a slim fifteen-minute window between being dropped off at the parking lot and found dead by another commuter, Michael McGivney somehow ended up wearing a topographic map of his death site on his face.
A week later, another victim named Michael, is lying beside his car, a four-inch column of flesh and organs vaporized from his chest. At the morgue, the victim's face delivers another puzzling topo map. The pathologist thinks this bizarre feature is tied to something military.
Caroline must deal with the difficult strange case at the worst possible time in her life. She’s struggling to regain visitation rights to her children, taken away by her manipulative ex-husband, she’s broke and has no idea how to start dating again because she spent the last fifteen years raising a family and using her job as a stepping stone for her husband’s political ambitions. However, the bizarre murders investigation brings into her life the least likely man she’d have thought of as a new partner. Ben Lejeune is a career soldier, a widower with two teenaged sons alienated from him since their mother’s death. Caroline’s work partner, Bill, attempts to help her regain her self-esteem, encouraging her to give the soldier who’d bound his life so tightly in discipline it threatens to destroy his children, a chance to find his humanity – as a man and as a father. Caroline is afraid to trust her feelings.
Her personal struggles start to affect her work attitude and create conflict that prevents her from being able to see the pieces of the puzzle that lie outside of the standard police protocol, out of sight. When she finds her ex-husband has been telling her children vile lies about her in order to gain sole custody, she heads down the interstate at 130mph, uncaring whether she lives or dies.
But what Caroline doesn’t know is that all along the fate of her children – those living with her ex and those yet to be born – rests in her hands because the murder of the young Park Ridge commuter connects her to a brilliant criminal who won’t or can’t reveal himself, and that she will kill her existing family and the father of her unborn child, if she doesn’t figure out the fiendish plan and stops him.
Hi Edita and Welcome!
Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to interview you for Romance Junkies.
I really appreciate your time doing this interview, and hope that you find the questions enjoyable.
The interview begins here:
First, can you let us know what projects you are currently working on?
1.) How do you fit writing into your schedule? What does your workspace look like?
For years, I used to be disciplined in writing – every day 1000 words went down on paper, whether I had something to say or not. Once I became a single parent…well, discipline and ambition had to take a backseat to survival. At the crack of the 21st century, for 2 years when our possessions were mostly in storage I wrote absolutely nothing. Couldn’t even think of writing. Then my mother fell ill and writing became a tiny dot on a distant horizon. I really started to get back to it only a year after she died – that would be about 4 years ago. Since then about 10 new books and 3 overhauled old ones poured out. And I started learning about marketing. My library looks out on the front lawn and the street. It’s where I write even as I look out at the world walking by. It’s not tidy by any means but then my state of mind is seldom tidy. I go through a ton of keyboards because I have my coffee and I snack as I write and the keyboards suffer for it. These days with day-work, yard word, housework and arguing-with-kids-work, I do my polishing of whatever I write after I get home from work, on weekends.
2.) Do you do a lot of research for your stories? What is the most interesting thing you have learned?
Once I’ve lived with the story-idea for a while, run through it in my head a few times, I spend a few days on research – Net, library, general living and driving around to sharpen imagination – then with all the research handy nearby, I start to write. Emotions – which are the fuel for much of writer’s work – are also the writer’s worst enemy. Moods affect my writing. Things go wrong at work, arguments with kids, their problems, dogs get sick, other general problems – all of these affect my writing. I need to be at peace with people and life, especially when I’m doing turbulent writing. It’s a paradox but that’s how it works for me.
3.) Are you a plotter or do you write as it comes? Do your characters start with names or do they have to have personalities before they can be named?
I’ve plotted books meticulously, walked with the story in my head and played it over an over, and then ‘executed’ it almost flawlessly to a degree where I almost considered it writing by numbers. This style used to work for me but strangely enough, I find my style or approach changing – and I have no idea what sets off the changes other than living – and this last year I’ve simply sat down, having no idea what I was going to write (or even why) and 3 weeks later the book was finished. I’ve written 3 books this way – one of the writers calls this type of writers ‘out of the mist’ writers. I have to say that I spend a great deal of time looking for just the right kind of character-name. The name has to fit the person and the personality. It’s almost stereotyping but I just can’t see a vivacious, head-strong and gorgeous temptress named…Marjorie or Hazel. Same for strapping heroes – can’t see Walter swashbuckling or swinging his fists. I guess I associate names from my ‘life’ – Secret Life of Walter Mitty springs to mind – with certain names.
4.) What do you want readers to take away after reading one of your stories? What do you want them to feel?
I’m a little…how shall I say it? Pedestrian, basic in this that all I want my writing to do is entertain. I wrote literary stories and a few were published. But ultimately I decided that I want my readers to get from a book what I WANT to get from a book when I pick it up – relax, enjoy and escape for a few hours with the book’s characters into their world and dilemmas. Just entertain. I find that anything heavy-literary tends to drag me down in spirit these days since life hasn’t been a bowl of cherries for me these last few years so I look for relaxation…escapism.
5.) What genre would you love to write but haven’t yet? Is there one you would shy away from?
I haven’t ventured into erotic romance (romantica) and reading a ton of excerpts from my colleagues on the ton of lists I belong to, got me in the mood, so to speak. This summer I sat down and even as I read the hot excerpts I started experimenting with storylines that would accommodate erotic scenes. I can’t write sex scenes for the sake of sex. There has to be a meaning and reason for it and the right motivation. It’s very difficult to come up with a background story/history that evolves naturally into hot sex scenes.
And for what I’d shy away from – it’s not as much as shying away as what I wouldn’t write and that’s hatred-propaganda. Not even if it fitted the character. I just can’t find justification for it. Hatred within a well-defined conflict is one thing. I mean that’s what drives the stories with that premise, but not venting-hatred that comes across as an agenda. I’d also find it difficult to write about child-abuse. That’s just something that would tear me apart, emotionally.
6.) Have you taken any classes to hone your skills? What classes/workshops would you recommend the most?
I’m going to be a maverick here and say that other than learning the basics of style, writers’ best learning ground is reading published material. I’ve taken academic courses and workshops – some for credit, others because I was curious what was expected of the participants to carry away or to learn – and I’d have to say that all I carried away from higher learning was the need for discipline in writing and a reminder that connections are the best way to success. No one can teach motivation to write, or imagination to spin a story. But quite often I took the course or workshop to simply CONNECT with others and stay connected to the writing community. And I don’t mean connections that lead to success/publication. Just the proverbial ‘reach out and touch.’
7.) Do you have any hobbies that you do in your spare time? Is there something you would love to learn but haven’t had the chance yet?
I used to love going to auctions and refinishing furniture that I’d pick up but that hobby’s long gone. I loved decorating too but that’s faded into history-hobby too. 3 years ago in the summer, when my kids went away on vacation, I painted the entire house designer texture and colors – inside and haven’t been able to take a brace off my elbow ever since. Eventually, I had to come to terms with the fact that there are just 24 hours in a day and choices to make how to spend those few that were left after ‘living and providing’ for family.
8.) If your life were a movie, what would you call it? What would the theme song be?
Die Hard with a vengeance…and I’m not even marginally kidding.
It wouldn’t have a song for track – it would have a constant drum-beat – war drums.
9.) Do you use a pen name? Why or why not? If you do, does it have a special meaning to you?
I’m toying with the idea that if I ever finish the romantica series I’ll sub it to publishers under a pen-name. Not decided on that yet. I’d not do it because of my kids – they read textbooks, newspapers and food product labels – I’d do it so as not to mislead my readers who’d pick up the book thinking it would be other genre. I wouldn’t want to offend and turn-off different groups of readers, that’s all.
10.) What is the last book you read that left a big impression on you?
Recently, I’ve re-read Ken Follett’s “Lie Down with Lions.” I’m constantly amazed at the intricate details he weaves into his stories. Love him. That’s all.
1.) Do you prefer to jump up and embrace the day or have a lazy breakfast in bed?
I’m up at the crack of dawn, embracing Tim Horton’s in a drive-through for my coffee and buttered bagel. I think I may be the only person on Earth who’s never, ever had a breakfast in bed. I mean hospital breakfasts-in-bed don’t count, right…?
2.) What are three words you would use to describe yourself? Are they the same as family/friends would use?
Determined, honest, unconventional.
Naturally my family/friends would paraphrase that into: possessed, weird and eccentric.
3.) What is your favorite TV shows? How about ones that you would stay away from?
Ah, maybe family and friends are right – favorite show is…Dexter.
Can’t stand to watch any reality shows. Just can’t hack it. Kids love’em though.
4.) What is your favorite dessert? Do you make it yourself or order it out?
tiramisu – my sister-in-law makes it and I could polish off the entire pyrex dish when she does.
5.) What is your favorite childhood memory?
I came to Canada as a child but what I remember of childhood in Slovakia, is going to gather wood in the forest with my grandmother. We lived in a small valley-village in the mountains. I’ll always remember crossing huge fields overgrown with wild flowers. It was a positive anarchy of color. I’ve long forgotten the flower names but whenever sentimental mood strikes, I can see those fields ablaze as if it was only yesterday we pulled the wooden cart through the pathways to the woods. I’m sure the urban sprawl and industrialization has long caught up to small villages in Slovakia, in the Carpathian Mountains, but those fields will stay with me forever. I’ve never been back to the ‘old country’ and my children have no idea about this part of their heritage. But somewhere out there, in Central Europe in a tiny valley there is a medieval castle on the hill that dates back to the 12th century and not too far from it is a cemetery. There are generations of my ancestors buried there going back for at least a thousand years. I remember the headstones since my mother and grandmother used to take me to ‘honor’ them on All Saints Day – to remember our roots. I doubt my kids would even know what I was talking about if I ventured into this part of my history.
Thank you and the Romance Junkies for the opportunity to have this interview. It certainly put me in an introspective mood and brought back memories that made me smile. I’m still waiting for my kids, friends or even a photographer to take a picture of me that looks…well, human. I am the prototype for un-photogenic and have been questing for a decent photo of me for years. Apologies for not having a picture to provide. Edita.