Hannah Clarke, a wife and mom one day, is a widow without a child the next. She dwindles to a shell of her former self, grief-stricken and bereft by Jason and Jay’s deaths. Two years later, reclaiming her life and living as H.L. Mason in Fossil, Colorado, her safe new world explodes with a revelation so shocking and horrifying she can hardly grasp it. By chance, she meets Sheriff Noah Ward, and though she’s leery of cops after relentlessly being accused of killing her family, she needs help. Noah agrees, but when Hannah becomes a target, he realizes the case is far more insidious than parental abduction. How is he supposed to keep the woman he loves safe when the immoral trio determined to stop her applies the same solution to every problem—murder.
Prolific author Ann Simas was kind enough to discuss her latest thriller, HERE AND GONE, with The Big Thrill:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I’d like them to be engaged from the first paragraph to the last. This is a book that deals not only with grief and betrayal, but determination. I want readers to pull for Hannah Mason, who discovers not only her independence but her inner strength. She’s a woman willing to take chances, even at the cost of her own life. She’s also willing to give her heart again to a man, despite experiencing the betrayal cast upon her by her husband, which left her vulnerable to a vengeful media, merciless strangers, and a ruthless detective.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
This book isn’t a thriller in the sense of jetting from city to city James Bond-style, but rather in a will-she-find-him, heart-pounding sort of way. HERE AND GONE deals with a serious issue involving parental abduction, but it’s not a cut-and-dried kidnapping—there’s a twist (no spoilers, remember?). I like to write books that are a little complicated, but keep up a fast pace and have a unique angle. I created Pike County and Fossil, Colorado, but I incorporated existing towns, as well as the North Pole and the dinosaur museum, which are key elements to the story. As always, I love the research part of writing and I hope readers will find that what I learned is woven throughout in an entertaining and informative way.
Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?
I wanted my male protagonist, who is the sheriff of Pike County, to drive a Ford F-150 as his work vehicle. To my delight, Ford actually makes trucks specifically for law enforcement. That seems like a small issue, but this book is set in the mountains of Colorado. Sedans just don’t cut it. What else did I learn? Annulment may be easier to get than divorce in Colorado, the North Pole has grown a lot since I last visited as a kid, and I should’ve made time to go into the dino museum last time I was in Woodland Park.
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 villains in HERE AND GONE are hiding out in a house on a road in Woodland Park, Colorado that isn’t far from the house my brother lives in on the same road. He got a kick out of it when I told him I was giving him some naughty fictional neighbors. I debated using a real location, but it’s such a perfect setting for what had to happen, I couldn’t resist, since I know the area.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
I suppose as a writer, every book I’ve ever read since I began first grade at age five has influenced me. I have a vivid imagination and a love affair with words, so what else could I do?
In the mid-eighties, I read an article in Parade magazine about author Cynthia Freeman, who started her writing career late. She was quoted as saying (and I paraphrase here), “For God’s sake, don’t let the fear of failure keep you from the thrill of trying.” I never forgot that and I pass it along to other authors who get discouraged.
Ann Simas lives in Oregon, but she is a Colorado girl at heart, having grown up in the Rocky Mountains. An avid word-lover since childhood, she penned her first fiction “book” in high school. The author of 21 novels, one novella, and one short-story collection, she particularly likes to write a mix of mystery/thriller/suspense, with a love story and paranormal or supernatural elements.
In addition to being a three-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Finalist, Ann is also an award-winning watercolorist and budding photographer who enjoys needlework and gardening in her spare time. She is her family’s “genealogist” and has been blessed with the opportunity to conduct first-hand research in Italy for both her writing and her family tree. The genealogy research from century’s-old documents, written in Italian, has been a supreme but gratifying and exciting challenge for her.
To learn more about Ann, please visit her website.