In the 15 years I’ve been writing thrillers, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people—from medical examiners and crime-lab directors to criminal profilers and homicide detectives. Because I don’t have a background in forensics or law enforcement, I’ve had to rely on experts who have generously offered their time and shared their experiences. Their real-life details have breathed life into my novels, and their friendships have enriched me personally as well as professionally. Through these experts, I’ve been able to write what I did not know.
Over the years my research has taken me through a variety of topics: the Ebola virus (Exposed); Munchausen syndrome by proxy (At the Stroke of Madness); the underground trafficking of body parts (Damaged); domestic terrorism (Black Friday); and food contamination in our school-lunch programs (Hotwire). One of the experts I met during this research told me about cadaver dogs. And ever since, I’ve been chomping at the bit to include one in a novel.
I’m a dog lover. I’ve surrounded myself with dogs my entire life, some of which have been rescues. I’ve had as many as six in my pack at one time. Each and every one of them has been a special member of my family—their entrance a celebration; their exit a deep and profound sadness. Yet I never truly realized the amazing capabilities that dogs possess until I started writing SILENT CREED. Not only do they have a keen sense of smell but they can also differentiate and sort through a variety of scents. And they do this over miles, despite barriers of dirt, water, and mounds of mahi-mahi—or in the case of SILENT CREED, debris and mud from a devastating mudslide.
Creed’s dogs are special, but then so is Creed. He isn’t your typical fictional hero. A former marine, Creed’s mission in life has been to find out what happened to his little sister, Brodie, who disappeared 15 years ago at the age of 11. Creed was just 14. It’s the reason he started his K9 company. It’s what drives him to get up every morning and take on yet another search, even though he realizes that the next cadaver his dogs find could be the remains of his sister.
Along the way, Creed often gets caught up in someone else’s life as he tries to help or rescue them, just as he rescues each of his dogs. And these aren’t just cadaver dogs. Creed trains them for search and rescue, to detect explosives, or to sniff out anything from illicit drugs to cancer.
I’ve written 11 novels in the Maggie O’Dell series, and Maggie is far from gone. She appears in the Creed novels, and her series will continue. I’ve also written two stand-alone thrillers, and have co-written a couple of e-novellas. But with Ryder Creed, I believe I’ve found a kindred soul—the both of us happy to live quite simply in the company of dogs.
Alex Kava is a New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Maggie O’Dell series and a new series featuring former Marine, Ryder Creed and his K9 dogs. Her stand-alone novel, One False Move, was the 2006 One Book One Nebraska. Published in over thirty countries, Kava’s novels have made the bestseller lists in the UK, Australia, Germany, Japan, Italy and Poland. Her novel Stranded was awarded both a Florida Book Award and the Nebraska Book Award. She is a member of the Nebraska Writers Guild and International Thriller Writers. Kava divides her time between Omaha, Nebraska and Pensacola, Florida.
To learn more about Alex, please visit her website.