Blondie's Books From Friends (BFF) Author Spotlight on Rachel Amphlett
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Author Spotlight on Rachel Amphlett and Before Nightfall
Today I bring you a behind the scenes look at how Rachel came up with the novel concept for Before Nightfall. I have to admit I got chills when I read this, partly due to the magical trip she describes but mostly at how her creative process was inspired by the sea that surrounded her. I wish my writing ideas worked out so neatly. Not that I have trouble but I don't write my books in 9 weeks. I chase kids and work at my two jobs and create awesome things for the PTA. maybe someday I'll get the chance to write in a solid straight line and get something done quickly. Here is Rachel and her watery adventure.
Inspiration and a Change of Scenery
I’m not naturally drawn to the sea. It’s something I blame on my Anglo heritage, and the fact that if I go out in the sun my vampire-like skin simply burns. I always joke that people will know if I’ve got a tan because I go from blue to white.
However, it was while on vacation in Malta eighteen months ago that the idea for my current thriller, Before Nightfall came to fruition, which goes to show that being out of your natural environment (for me that means countryside and greenery) can often spark your creative juices in ways you might not expect.
It was about three days into the holiday that the idea first popped into my head. I could see a woman on a chair, her hands tied behind her. She had a Hessian sack over her head, and was scared – very scared. Her head was bowed, and she wore no jewelry. She’d tucked her feet under the chair, her toes pointed at the ground.
That evening, we met with family members who had flown to Malta to meet us there, and I described this scene to my aunt over drinks at a bar overlooking Sliema harbour – it wouldn’t let go, and I was aching to find out who the woman was, and why she was there.
What had she done to get into that situation?
Did anyone know where she was?
Would she get out alive?
I’d just published the second in my Dan Taylor thriller series, Under Fire, and my aunt suggested a rest from the series to explore this new idea. Rather than take a break from writing completely, the concept of writing something different as a means to dust off some different writing skills held appeal.
The next day, we spent a leisurely time walking and taking taxi boats between Sliema, where we were renting an apartment, and Valetta. The noises of the busy harbour-side and shouts from people as they worked the docks, and the aromas of salty air, and diesel fumes from the boats, evoked a real sense of place in my mind.
I knew the setting of the story wouldn’t take place in Malta – the place is too friendly (I wanted a location facing social upheaval), and too small to hide someone for any length of time. However, these sensory moments stayed with me, and the more I thought about it, the more I felt that the woman would be held captive near water.
The overheard conversations of everyday life and salty air would become the sounds and smells that sustained her, and how she would work out her location.
The day before we were due to fly home, we treated ourselves to a boat trip up the east coast of the island towards Comino and Gozo. The owners of the short tour used a traditional Turkish gulet, a beautiful wooden-hulled vessel that held special memories for us from trips to Turkey in the past.
We tossed books, a small camera, and my notebook and pen into a backpack, wandered down to the quayside and found a quiet place to sit on the small yacht.
For a while, we watched the scenery and fell into our usual companionable silence, and then I suddenly reached out for my backpack, pulled out my notebook and pen, and started scribbling.
Twelve pages later, I had the rough outline of the plot completed. I knew who the woman was, how she got there, and how much trouble she was heading for. When I finished, I was stunned and turned to my other half, a huge grin plastered across my face.
‘I’ve got the story,’ I said.
He laughed, shook his head, and turned the page of the book he was engrossed in. ‘Good,’ he said. ‘Then you can start writing it when we get back to Australia.’
I smiled, put the notebook back in my backpack, then went to stand at the guardrail to watch the island of Gozo grow closer to our starboard side.
Nine weeks later, the first draft of Before Nightfall was complete.
Twitter: @RachelAmphlett (http://twitter.com/RachelAmphlett)
Before Nightfall is available for the special price of $0.99 until 31 January 2015 from eBook retailers, including:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/before-nightfall-rachel-amphlett/1119258325?ean=9780992268527
Connect With KJ Waters
When I'm not working on Stealing Time you can find me on my social media at the links below. My novel is out on amazon here.