The daughter of a southern lady and a Dutch sailor who fought on Allied ships during World War II, New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers loves living adventure—and giving her readers the adrenalin rush of the ride in pulse-pounding, atmospheric suspense novels.
Carla graduated magna cum laude from Boston University, was an arts and entertainment writer and has written more than 50 novels, 10 of those New York Times best-sellers. Her books feature cops of all kinds and an ensemble of characters that make cameo appearances from book to book.
In THE WIDOW, and in many other Carla Neggers pulse-pounding thrillers, your characters are members of the law enforcement community. What enables you to write these heroes so convincingly?
Friends, family and my own "hands on" research combined with a vivid imagination! I've talked with detectives, police chiefs, lawyers, judges. For THE WIDOW, I interviewed a homicide detective who asked all the hard questions I needed to answer about the seven-year-old murder in the story. I've also learned basic defense tactics and gone shooting with a guy who teaches police recruits. There's always something new to learn.
In THE WIDOW, your protagonist is a homicide detective, a young widow, a woman FBI special agent husband was killed on their honeymoon seven years ago. The thought of being in her shoes is heartbreaking. What inspired you to put this brave young woman in this situation? What did you draw on to convey her emotions?
Abigail Browning was the inspiration for THE WIDOW—I "saw" her in the opening scene of the book as she burns seven years' worth of journals in the grill in the back yard of the triple-decker she shares with two other Boston detectives. I can't say exactly where I got the inspiration for her, but it's easy to identify with her struggle and with her determination to find her husband's killer—and to root for her as she finds herself falling in love again.
Your male hero in is a search and rescue worker—talk about a hero! Do you know any search and rescue workers? If not, how did you research this fascinating role?
I'm fascinated by search-and-rescue (SAR) work. An air force pararescueman helped me with research for COLD RIDGE — "PJs" are the guys who, among other things, go behind enemy lines to rescue downed pilots. They're amazing. I'm an avid hiker, and I'm learning wilderness first aid, but I have no desire to parachute out of a perfectly good airplane! SAR specialists are true heroes. They put themselves out there so that others may live.
In THE WIDOW, the setting—an island off the coast of Maine that is a tourist retreat—is so eerie, it's almost a character in the book. Is this a real place the reader can visit? If not, what inspired this place in your story?
Mount Desert Island is definitely a real place. Acadia National Park is located there—I've spent many days hiking there and just enjoying its incredible beauty. There's nothing quite like a sunset atop Cadillac Mountain. Gorgeous! It also has its dangers—sudden fog, abrupt changes in weather, cliffs, tricky currents. As is true anywhere, it's always best to pay attention to guides and warnings and to go prepared. I try to capture that contrast of beauty and danger in THE WIDOW. And the steaming popovers at Jordan Pond ... those are real and not to be missed!
Adventure is central in all your stories. A reader can feel his or her pulse pound while you take the reader on the thrill of the ride. How much a part f you is this pursuit of adventure, or is it more like a fantasy that you pursue in your writing?
I have an adventurous soul. My father was a Dutch sailor who took off to sea as a teenager—my inspiration, I think! I love to hike, kayak, travel and learn new things, but I'm also happy sitting by the fire with a book. So the answer is ... a little of both—part of the spirit of adventure in my books comes from my own experience, and part of it comes from my vivid imagination.
What was the most difficult thing for you as a writer when you were crafting THE WIDOW?
Having to type THE END! I loved writing this book ... but I knew I'd be revisiting these characters, so that helped me to say goodbye for a while.
What would you like your readers to know about you that they won't find in your bio on your website?
We're on our way to Ireland for Christmas! My husband, our daughter, our son-in-law, our son and me. We arrive on the morning of Christmas Eve. We can't wait.
A little birdie told us that readers will be treated to a sequel to THE WIDOW in May of 2008. Tell us a little something about that novel, THE ANGEL.
I just finished writing THE ANGEL ... I've had the best time! Not only did I get to revisit Abigail Browning and Owen Garrison from THE WIDOW, but I got to create intriguing new characters, Keira Sullivan, an illustrator and folklorist, and Simon Cahill, an SAR volunteer with secrets. Keira's fascination with myth, magic and an old Irish story put her right in the middle of a murderous evil. There's a short excerpt of THE ANGEL in the back of THE WIDOW as well as a $2-off coupon.
How can readers contact you?
Please visit my website CarlaNeggers.com — or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love to hear from readers!