Jules Ward has had a stalker for five months, but she doesn’t take him seriously until he leaves the head of a slaughtered bull elk in her driveway. Fossil, Colorado’s newest resident, security expert Beck Ford, knows the minute he meets Jules she’s the one. Jules hires him to find her stalker, but nothing prepares her for what the stalker will do next. Beck knows bad people exist, but when they’re bat-shit crazy, well, that’s not something he’s dealt with before. Together or apart, Jules and Beck face every obstacle the stalker puts in their path. The question is, will they survive and have their happily-ever-after?
Ann Simas recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, RUN OR DON’T:
Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?
After I wrote Here and Gone, I got a lot of queries about the other Ward siblings, so I decided to write about them, too. RUN OR DON’T is the third book in the series, but it can be read as a stand-alone (Disappearing Act was number two). Obviously, the character (Jules, the youngest and only sister) and the setting (Estes Park and Fossil, Colorado) came first, and the plot came after. All I knew for certain before I started writing was that Jules would have a stalker and the book would involve elk. Yes, elk!
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
Even though I grew up in Colorado, the closest I ever came to an elk was in the kitchen. My mom knew fifty different ways to prepare a meal with the elk meat my dad brought home every fall. But I digress—Estes Park has been inundated by elk in recent years, and by that, I mean, the elk come into town and basically take it over (you can search elk in Estes Park on the Internet, if you don’t believe me). Once I decided how I could use those elk in my book, the other challenge that cropped up was the stalker. Suffice to say, I worked in the DA’s Victim Services for a few years, so I know the lengths stalkers will go to when stalking their prey, and it ain’t pretty. Sometimes, it’s simple harassment, and sometimes their victims end up dead. My challenges for this book, as you can imagine, were also opportunities.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
Stalkers are sometimes creative, often innovative, and always determined when they stalk. That means, if they want to break into their victim’s home and place audio and video recording devices, they will find a way to do it. If they’re a stalker who works in the medical field, they will find a way to steal what they need to walk into a hospital as if they belong there and knock out their victim. Just sayin’.
What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you about this book, or your work in general? And, please answer the question too!
Q: What’s your favorite way to eat elk meat?
A: As braciole, which is something we Italians make. Braciole is round steak, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and basil, then rolled up, tied, and placed in a pot of spaghetti sauce to slow-cook while the sauce simmers. A family of six, we ate mostly wild meat because my dad hunted and fished: deer (which I hate), antelope, rabbit, pheasant, wild turkey (which I love), moose (yes, moose!), trout, salmon, halibut, and (don’t forget) elk.
Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: Honestly, I have no idea. I dream, I research, I read, I imagine, and I think (therefore, I am). All I know for certain is that it all manages to come together in the end.
Ann Simas lives in Oregon, but she is a Colorado girl at heart, having grown up in the Rocky Mountains. The author of 34 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. Three of her books were Finalists in RWA’s Golden Heart contest.
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 the author and her work, please visit her website.