Please welcome Elizabeth Heiter back to the blog! Her new book, Vanished, just came out, and she kindly answered a few of my questions about it, and more!
Congrats on the new book! Will you tell us a little about Vanished?
Thank you so much! I’m really excited for Vanished, where my heroine finally gets to tackle the case that drove her to become an FBI profiler in the first place! Eighteen years ago, her best friend Cassie was abducted, the last in a series of kidnappings by the Nursery Rhyme Killer. Cassie was never found, and now another girl has gone missing in Evelyn’s hometown of Rose Bay, South Carolina, and the Nursery Rhyme Killer is taking credit.
It’s the case Evelyn has wanted to solve since she was twelve years old, but it means facing her hometown – where racial prejudices eighteen years ago meant she wasn’t always welcome – and facing the possibility that this time, it isn’t her friend’s abductor at all, but a copycat. The deeper she digs, the more secrets she finds in Rose Bay, and the more likely it becomes that whoever the abductor is this time, Evelyn might be the next to disappear.
What kind of research did you do for the book, especially in order to get into the mind of the Nursery Rhyme Killer?
When I wrote Hunted (Book 1 in The Profiler series), I’d already done extensive research on the FBI and profiling, but I did more for this book, visiting another FBI field office, and digging deeper into the process of profiling. One part of this book that really fascinated me was setting up the idea that the abductions start again after eighteen years. I wanted that possibility to feel real, so I did a lot of research into real serial criminals who went dormant for a long time, then resurfaced. It’s not common, but there are some scary precedents out there!
As with my first book, the psychology of the villain plays a big part in the story – and the profiling – so I also focused in on why the abductions happened. Why did the Nursery Rhyme Killer pick those specific victims? Why stop for so long and then return (or why, if it’s a copycat, would someone pick this criminal to emulate)? When writing crime fiction, I think the why can be just as interesting as the how and who, sometimes even more so!
How has Evelyn Baine grown the most since Hunted?
In Hunted, Evelyn was very closed off from those around her. She was a standout profiler, a young, rising star in the Behavioral Analysis Unit, but socially awkward. After what happened to her in that book (getting targeted by a serial killer can make you think about your life!), she tried to make some changes. So, when Vanished opens, she’s making a real attempt at change. She’s no longer the first one into the office each morning or the last to leave. Then, Cassie’s mom calls, telling her the case she’s waited to solve all her life is back, and of course, she insists on returning to her hometown and she won’t stop until she uncovers what really happened to her best friend.
What have you enjoyed most about writing this series?
There’s so much I love about writing The Profiler series! I love Evelyn, social awkwardness and all – I love the fact that she has room to grow, and that she’s not perfect, but she’s dedicated and determined. I think it’s fun to root for her, both in her cases and her personal life! I love the research that goes into writing the profiles for the cases, and connected to that, I love creating the villains – they get less “on page” time, but in many ways, their psychology really drives the books. I also love writing Kyle “Mac” McKenzie, Evelyn’s possible love interest, who has a little bit lighter outlook on life, and loosens her up.
One of my favorite parts about the writing process is that moment when you get a spark of an idea and turn it into a full-fledged outline for a book. It’s such an exciting process, filled with a lot of “a-ha!” moments. I’m finishing the third book in the series now – another fun part of the process! – and then I’ll start fleshing out my idea sparks for book four!
It’s been a while since we’ve caught up. Have you read any good books lately? Did you have any 2014 favorites?
My 2014 was a flurry of writing and researching and events, and with five books slated for 2015 (that had to be mostly written last year), my reading time really took a hit. Two books that did really stick with me this past year included Thomas Sweterlitsch’s Tomorrow and Tomorrow (a really dark, trippy suspense book with shades of sci-fi that meshed a virtual reality archive with a real-life crime) and Shelley Corriell’s The Broken (a dark romantic suspense about a woman who has managed to stay one step ahead of the serial killer she escaped…until now). Both of them were fantastic reads.
What are you currently reading?
Right now, I’m hard at work on the final draft of my next Profiler book, so I’m taking a pause on all non-research reading for a few more weeks. But my TBR pile is full of books I’m really looking forward to, including Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl, Jeffery Deaver’s The Skin Collector, Tess Gerritsen’s Die Again, Andrew Grant’s Run, and Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Truth Be Told. Just to name a few!
What’s next for you in 2015, and beyond?
2015 will be a big year of releases! After Vanished, I’ll have another book in my straight suspense Profiler series (title TBD) coming out toward the end of the year. In between, I’ll have three books in my romantic suspense series, The Lawman, releasing in February (Disarming Detective), March (Seduced by the Sniper), and April (SWAT Secret Admirer). You can expect more dark suspense, only mixed with a heavier dose of romance in The Lawmen books. Beyond that, I’m beginning to plot book 4 in The Profiler series, which will release sometime in 2016.
Sometimes, the past can haunt you…
Eighteen years ago, FBI profiler Evelyn Baine’s best friend, Cassie Byers, disappeared, the third in a series of unsolved abductions. Only a macabre nursery rhyme was left at the scene, a nursery rhyme that claimed Evelyn was also an intended victim. Now, after all these years of silence, another girl has gone missing in South Carolina, and the Nursery Rhyme Killer is taking credit. But is Cassie’s abductor really back, or is there a copycat at work?
Sometimes, the past is best forgotten…
Evelyn has waited eighteen years for a chance to investigate, but when she returns to Rose Bay, she finds a dark side to the seemingly idyllic town. As the place erupts in violence and the kidnapper strikes again, Evelyn knows this is her last chance. If she doesn’t figure out what happened to Cassie eighteen years ago, it may be Evelyn’s turn to vanish without a trace.