Omnimystery News is delighted to welcome Patricia Gussin as our guest blogger. Patricia's latest thriller is And Then There Was One (Oceanview Publishing Hardcover, October 2010).
Today, Patricia writes about the idea behind the book. And she's also providing our readers with an opportunity to win a copy of her book. Visit Mystery Book Contests, click on the "Patricia Gussin: And Then There Was One" contest link, enter your name, e-mail address, and this code (2923) for a chance to win! (One entry per person; contest ends November 04, 2010.)
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Photo provided courtesy of Patricia Gussin
The premise of And Then There Was One can be summed up in one sentence: Three nine year old triplets go into a movie theater and only one comes out.
The Monroe triplets live in Tampa, but are visiting their mother’s relatives in a suburb of Detroit. Their father, a former professional baseball player, is in the Bronx at a Yankees game. On the last day of their visit, a nineteen year old cousin takes the three girls to a movie theatre, a multiplex. There’s a squabble about what movie they want to attend so the triplets split up. Jackie goes in with the older cousin. Sammie and Alex go into the adjoining theatre. Sammie and Jackie never come out.
The Monroe parents are beyond devastation. The FBI is called in quickly. Every aspect of the family’s life examined for clues. Especially the professional life of the triplet’s mother, a forensic pediatric psychiatrist, who has helped separate many abusive parents from their children. The Monroes are a biracial family; could racial bigotry play a role? The emotional scale ratchets up as the array of possibilities expand and contract as to who took Sammie and Jackie. Are they even alive? But in the background as the tension and fear and terror escalate, what is happening to Jackie, the safe triplet?
And Then There Was One exploits the most basic of fears, the loss of a child, or in the case of the Monroe triplets, children. This family is at the very pinnacle of anguish. Sammie and Alex have vanished, but the emotional stress on little Jackie is overwhelming, too.
What I was aiming for was super-psychological suspense, but also to explore the emotional glue that holds a family together in crisis.
As the mother of seven and a physician trained in pediatrics, I believe that the abduction of a child evokes the most primal of fears, a terror beyond even the most vivid imagination.
All of my novels have strong family themes along with a sub-theme of medicine and of course being thrillers, gasping twists. Starting with Shadow of Death, the most autobiographical of my novels, followed by Twisted Justice and The Test I have blended my passion for children and medicine and thrillers. The three loves of my life, except for my fabulous husband.
That leads me to a non-fiction book that I co-authored with my husband, Robert Gussin. What’s Next … For You? tells the story of how we both went from careers in medicine and medical research to books and wine. Yes, wine. We have a couple of vineyards in Marlborough, New Zealand. Our grapes are in bottles of Villa Maria Estate wines which you may see on the shelves or in restaurants throughout the world. This “together” book has been called inspirational and humorous, quite a departure from my novels. But we had a good time writing it and we’re still together!
Back to And Then There Was One. Recognizing the depth of emotions plumbed in this story, the actual inspiration for the plot was very banal. I was driving down Route 41 in Sarasota and I noticed a woman pushing a double stroller down the sidewalk. I love kids so I did a double take. There were two toddlers in the stroller, maybe eighteen months old. And beside the stroller, toddled another. All three looked to be about the same age and they looked a lot alike. But the moment was fleeting, and I drove along.
I kept thinking. Why was one walking and the other two being pushed? Were they siblings, or not? That got me thinking about what if they were triplets? What if one triplet was separated from the others?
That led me to something buried deep in my PC archives: my second novel, Twisted Justice. Two of the five children in Twisted Justice are twins, Natalie and Nicole, ten year olds.
When my agent and editor first read Twisted Justice, they both said, “You have too much going on. You need to simplify the story.” So I took out one of my favorite sub-plots and guess what? The novel improved just the way they said it would. The sub-plot that I removed was a kidnapping scenario. Natalie and Nicole were kidnapped out of a mall.
Never delete early drafts. Needless to say, I went back to my former versions of Twisted Justice, extracted the kidnapping details, and modified them to meet the needs of Sammie and Alex’s abduction in And Then There Was One.
It wasn’t exactly that easy, but you get the point. That leads me to my writing habits. I’m not proud to say it, but they are erratic. I write whenever and wherever I can. I am bouncing many balls and I don’t have as much time as I’d like. And I’m behind in my next novel which will feature bioterrorism.
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Patricia is a board certified Family Medicine physician who has spent the major part of her career as the vice president of research of a large health care company. She grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, studied medicine in Detroit, practiced medicine in Philadelphia, and now splits her time between Florida, New York, and New Zealand. Visit her website at PatriciaGussin.com for more information, or her publisher's website, OceanviewPub.com, where she "tells all" about each of her books. You can also add her as a friend on Facebook.
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About And Then There Was One: One is the loneliest number.
Nine years ago, Katie and Scott Monroe were blessed beyond their wildest dreams with identical triplets, Sammie, Alex, and Jackie. Three beautiful daughters and two adoring parents formed the picture-perfect party of five. But this tight-knit family unravels when the three little girls go to see a movie, but only one emerges from the darkness of the theatre. How could Sammie and Alex vanish without a trace?
Plunged into the abyss of a parent's worst fear, Katie and Scott hang by a thread-waiting, worrying, not knowing, and confronting the terrifying realization that the kidnapping may not have been a random act.
Who took Sammie and Alex? Why? Where are they? When will they be found? And what if they're never found, or not found alive? When Jackie, the remaining triplet, crumbles under the weight of grief and survivor's guilt, Katie and Scott struggle to hold out hope and hold on to what remains of their family.
Until -- or unless -- Sammie and Alex are found safe, this picture-perfect family can't be put back together again.
For a chance to win a copy of And Then There Was One, courtesy of the author, visit Mystery Book Contests, click on the "Patricia Gussin: And Then There Was One" contest link, and enter your name, e-mail address, and this code (2923) in the entry form. (One entry per person; contest ends November 04, 2010.)