Dr. Persephone Smith is a psychologist with a genetic gift. Her enhanced empathy allows her to feel on a primal level the emotions of others, which helps with her job as a counselor for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. But Seph’s gift comes with a price. Plagued by nightmares and insecure in her work, she absorbs the suffering of her patients by day and swills tequila by night.
When Seph is deployed to an abandoned air hangar turned medical shelter during a massive hurricane, her worst nightmares come true. One by one, as the wind howls overhead, staff and evacuees disappear into the dark recesses of the vast space. The missing return as mutilated corpses. The living, trapped in the shrieking metal structure by the storm, descend into varying levels of paranoia and even madness. Seph must become both counselor and detective to determine who, or what, is calling them prey. Is the panic and mayhem just “shelter shock,” as the lead physician, Anne Parrish, insists? Or is everyone, Seph included, in danger of losing their minds—and their lives?
J. L. Delozier spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, STORM SHELTER:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Never underestimate the power of a paranoia and mass (sometimes called “crowd”) hysteria.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
I think it’s all about the setting. Haven’t been too many other books out there (if any!) that take place entirely within a medical shelter. Many people have never been in a disaster shelter of any kind and have no idea how one operates, so I hope the book gives a sneak peek at what makes a shelter run smoothly—and what happens when things don’t!
Was there anything new you discovered, or surprised you, as you wrote this book?
That a thriller doesn’t have to have exotic, international settings to be a fun ride.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
The setting is 100% real and based on my previous disaster deployments, including one to the very same shelter described in my book.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
Stephen King, Michael Crichton. Stephen King schooled me in psychologic horror, and Michael Crichton, a fellow physician, taught me how to twist science into something scary and thrilling!
Dr. Jennifer Delozier submitted her first story, handwritten in pencil on lined school paper, to Isaac Asimov’s magazine while still in junior high school. Several years later, she took a creative writing elective at Penn State University and was hooked. She received her BS and MD degrees in six years, which was followed by the blur of internship, residency, and the launch of her medical career. But she never forgot her first love.
From the deductive reasoning of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the cutting edge science of Michael Crichton, she remains inspired by facts that lie on the edge of reality: bizarre medical anomalies, new genetic discoveries, and anything that seems too weird to be true.
Dr. Delozier spent the early part of her career as a rural family doctor and then later as a government physician, caring for America’s veterans. She continues to practice medicine and lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and four rescue cats.
To learn more, please visit her website.