By George Ebey
This month, E. V. Lind brings us her new domestic thriller, ONLY WHEN I SLEEP. It’s the first of a planned trilogy from the pseudonymous author, who has penned more than 40 titles—including several USA Today bestsellers—under another name.
Discovering she’s pregnant gives Beth Campbell the impetus to break free of Detective Dan Henderson’s narcissistic and brutal control, but Dan won’t let go easily. Terrified, she runs for her life, but is her refuge even more dangerous? When Beth finds the diaries of a woman who’s been missing since 1942, the ghosts of the past are unleashed on her present with menacing fury.
Meanwhile, forced to assimilate back into “normal” life in Riverbend, Oregon, war-weary veteran Ryan Jones is laden with survivor’s guilt. Which is why he’s pissed when he ends up with a secretive, vulnerable housesitter he’d be a fool to trust. His plans for a quiet life are shattered by Beth, the undead, and her homicidal ex, and Ryan is thrust back into a protector role to save them both. Hunted in the present, haunted by the past—they must learn to trust each other to survive.
The Big Thrill recently checked in with Lind to learn more about her new thriller.
Tell us about your main character, Beth Campbell. What has her journey been like up until now?
Beth Campbell’s life had few complications until the death of her parents in a road accident. Grief-stricken, she gave up finishing her studies and returned home, and since that time she has cleared her parents’ debts and continued to live simply in the family home while working in a local diner. Broken in spirit and directionless, she was ripe pickings for narcissistic detective Dan Henderson, who carefully groomed her before beginning to control everything she did, said, wore, or thought. Only when she discovered she was pregnant did she find the courage to break free of Dan’s growing violent control of her.
Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?
Character, definitely. An article in the news about a woman declared a hostile witness in a domestic violence case raised so many questions in my mind about why she wouldn’t want to put her attacker away. Then, during a trip away from home I visited an old graveyard. There was a large family plot there, with headstones for decedents ranging from old to young and right there, in the middle, was a blank headstone. It intrigued me, and the rest of ONLY WHEN I SLEEP evolved from this.
Tell us about the book’s setting and why you chose it for your story.
I chose to set most of the story in a fictional and fairly isolated rural/dairy community in Oregon. I guess I mostly chose that because of its similarities to where I live, New Zealand, and because (with much online research and questioning of people in the USA) I was able to visualize the setting more easily.
What attracts you to this book’s genre?
Interpersonal relationships always fascinate me, both current and past. When you add into that the mores of society at any given time, and the pressures and expectations they can put on a person, it makes things even more complicated. I personally find it difficult to pigeonhole my book’s genre because we have the domestic thriller aspect along with a touch of supernatural suspense and a very light sprinkle of romance.
What elements do you feel are essential for a good suspense story?
An ever-building sense of impending doom/death/disaster is vital to keep a reader’s interest in a good suspense story. As an author, you want your reader hooked from the beginning and wanting to keep turning each page—unable to put the book down or, when the stakes get really high, turn out the light and stop reading. I love knowing a villain’s point of view and found, after a career in contemporary romance, that writing a villain’s point of view is both a fascinating study and at the same time very cathartic because you don’t have to be politically correct. A villain can be as twisted and intelligent and cruel as your mind can conceive. And villains don’t necessarily always have to be living, either. In my stories I like to weave evil elements from the past to add to the threat to my characters’ lives because they up the stakes and increase the tension for the characters and, hopefully, my readers.
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
The biggest challenge this book presented was in actually being written. In my other life I’ve written more than 40 traditionally published contemporary titles, so doing this was a big step out for me. But I’ve always loved the thriller and suspense genres and have always had a burning ambition to write these much more intensely-entwined stories. Basically, it was a matter of making the time and pushing myself out there.
What do you hope readers will take away from this story?
Well, I guess my two great hopes for this story are that the reader takes away the hope that the good guys always win and that even when you think you’ve lost everything you can rebuild and move on with your life even better and stronger than you ever were before.
Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?
Frankly, I discovered how cathartic it is to write a villain’s point of view. You don’t have to be nice or conform to other people’s expectations. A villain has freedoms that “nice” characters don’t have. I’m always fascinated by what makes people tick and how they arrive at the decisions they make, so getting inside the minds of the villains of my stories has become quite fascinating. And it makes me wonder…maybe there’s a bit of a villain in all of us?
E. V. Lind is the pseudonym of an award winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 40 titles, with 4.3 million copies sold to date. E. V. has always been captivated by the supernatural and enjoyed chilling suspense movies and novels and has always loved visiting old homes and even older graveyards for all the untold stories that lie within them. Add to this a fascination with what makes criminals tick, a love of crime and suspense novels and you have the beginnings of the supernatural suspense author E. V. has evolved into.
ONLY WHEN I SLEEP is E. V.’s first novel in this vein and was inspired by two things, a story in the news about a battered woman and a visit to a timeworn graveyard where there was a family plot with an empty headstone. What happened to the decedent? Where did they go?
To learn more about E. V., please visit her website.