The Big Thrill Discusses BLIND TRUST with Michael W. Sherer
Who can you trust when you can’t even see?
Life used to be so easy when she was a royal. All she had to worry about was her wardrobe and makeup. Tess Barrett doesn’t know who to trust anymore. Alice, maybe, the long-time manager of the Barrett household, but Alice has all the warmth and charm of a rattlesnake on a snowy night. Not exactly the kind of person Tess wants to cuddle up to and confide in.
Then there’s her personal assistant Oliver, who’s been acting like a jealous middle-school kid whenever their friend Derek is around. And Yoshi, the gardener and Tess’s martial arts teacher, suddenly seems to have secrets Tess never imagined. Tess even thinks her Uncle Travis might not be that bad since he let her go to homecoming, but he’s let Robyn back into their lives, the woman who Tess is sure tried to come between her parents.
Homecoming was the worst disaster imaginable. Bad enough that Oliver tried to kiss her (eww), but then a hired assassin attempted to kill her in front of half the school. Her quick reaction when he hesitated was all that saved her. Now, the principal wants her gone unless Travis provides extra security and metal detectors at all the entrances. Everyone hates her for it. Someone hates her so much that he—or she—posts a porno video made to look like Tess is the star.
With mid-term exams coming up, the deadline for college applications looming, and her AP Chemistry teacher threatening to make her drop the course, Tess is feeling more pressure than any senior should. None of it will make a bit of difference if she doesn’t find out who’s trying to have her killed. Tess, Oliver, and Derek follow the money. When she discovers the trail leads to one of the most powerful men in Washington, D.C., and to someone in her father’s company, she’s no longer sure she wants to know the truth.
Once the wheels are set in motion, though, there’s no turning back. And with every step she takes, Tess learns the conspiracy against her and everything she holds dear is far deeper and more dangerous than any of them had imagined. She’ll have to trust someone, and it will take every resource she can muster to get to the heart of what these dark forces want…if she survives.
Michael W. Sherer recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest young adult thriller, BLIND TRUST.
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
I had a dream early one morning during the twilight between fitful sleep and wakefulness, in which I was coming up with book titles: “Blind Rage,” “Blind Ambition,” “Blind Trust,” “Blind Justice,” “Blind Instinct,” “Blind Luck…” I woke up scratching my head, wondering what the hell that was all about, and in a flash, it hit me—they were titles in a series about a blind teenage girl who solves mysteries.
Upon further reflection, once fully awake, I realized that a blind girl could not do much of anything, let alone solve crimes, without help. In another flash of inspiration, I realized that she had a “Seeing Eye” guy who helped her get around and function.
Once I had those two insights, I developed back stories for those two characters (how she became blind; where she lived; her family situation, etc.; why he took the job as her personal assistant; where he came from; etc.). Then the series took shape by asking the usual question: “what if…?”
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
The second book in the series was published in 2016. I wrote two adult thrillers after that and published them in 2019 and 2020. The pandemic was a bizarre time. Everything felt like it was on hold, even the incentive and motivation to write. But after those two interconnected adult thrillers, I was faced with a choice of writing a third adult thriller or getting back to the YA/NA series and writing the third installment.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
Not particularly. However, at the same time as writing this one, I had been “reimagining” the first book with a television/film creative developer who was taking it chapter by chapter with focus groups of teen girls. Their reactions to the characters, the characters’s relationships, and the story shaped my vision of where I wanted the series to go.
While that “reimagining” process is still underway, the storyline in that retelling has changed dramatically from the original book. In this third book, (and the fourth that I’m presently working on), I kept in mind a lot of the focus group participants’s comments in mind, not so much in terms of plotline, but in terms of character relationships.
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
I think Tess Barrett’s uniqueness lies in the fact that she isn’t the ordinary, or down-on-her-luck, teenage girl who becomes a scrappy heroine; she had it all—beauty, brains, wealth, popularity, a (relatively) happy family life, a boyfriend, and in one fell swoop, that’s all taken away. She still lives in a fabulous house, has access to enormous wealth and all the trappings that go with it, but the clothes, makeup, cars, etc., are meaningless without her sight and her parents. Learning how to deal with extraordinary circumstances on top of that, as well as adjusting to being the brunt of cruelty at school instead of being a “royal” is what Tess’s journey—and the series—is about.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
Believing in yourself, standing up to bullying, and doing the right thing can turn an ordinary person into a hero.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
I ended this book on such a cliffhanger that I knew readers would want more (if not I feel I somehow “cheated” them). So, while I’ve started the third adult Identity thriller, my focus is now fully on Blind Spot, the fourth Tess Barrett thriller.
After stints as a manual laborer, dishwasher, bartender, restaurant manager, commercial photographer, magazine editor and public relations executive, Michael W. Sherer decided life should imitate art and became a freelance writer and author.
Mike is a member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, and is the author of Mistaken Identity and Stolen Identity, four books in the Seattle-based Blake Sanders series, including Night Strike and Night Blind, which was nominated for an ITW Thriller Award in 2013. His other books include the award-winning Emerson Ward mystery series, the stand-alone suspense novel, Island Life, and the Tess Barrett new/young adult thriller series, currently in development for film/television.
Now living outside Seattle, Mike is working on his fourth Tess Barrett novel and another thriller featuring FBI Special Agent Jenny Roberts.
To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website. You can also find him at facebook.com/ThrillerAuthor, @MysteryNovelist on Twitter, and @ThrillerAuthor on Instagram.
BLIND TRUST with Michael W. Sherer