INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTINA DODD

Strangers She Knows (Cape Charade Book 3)

Christina Dodd

HQN Pub

Sept 17th, 2019

Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd creates an atmosphere of suspense and tension, that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.  This story never lets up from beginning to end.

A psychopath, Mara Phillips, has a vendetta against the main character, Kellen Rae. She has escaped a maximum-security facility for the criminally insane. This psychopath targeted Kellen, her husband Max, and their daughter Rae who still has a maturity level beyond her years. Hoping that authorities will re-capture her, the family decides to stay on an island off the Northern California coast. There is no cell phone service, WiFi, internet, and TV, basically having the family totally cut off except for the radio in the helicopter. To pass the time Kellen and Rae explore the many hidden rooms and tunnels throughout the house. One of the main discoveries is a diary from the WWII years of a young girl whose father was the original owner of the Hearst-like home. As they read it, Kellen, Rae, and Max find out that the father was abusive, and that the writer’s lover died in the war. They also are kept busy by repairing and restoring a 1955 Ford-100 pickup truck.

But, since seeing Mara at her wedding, Kellen knows she and her family are in danger. She is also recovering from brain surgery that removed a bullet from her brain, and now is trying to regain the use of her atrophied hand. Unfortunately, Kellen will also have to battle Mara in a fight to see who will live and who will die.

This book is a fast-paced and a riveting read. Readers are kept guessing about the outcome. People will be sad knowing that the story of this family has come to an end.

Elise Cooper:  Had did you come up with the last book in the series?

Christina Dodd: It is the logical progression of the first two books.  For me, it is the only story that can follow the previous two.  This will be the last book in the series, because I told my editor I would only write three stories.

EC:  Did you know anyone that had brain surgery?

CD:  My brother-in-law had a non-malignant tumor on his brain.  The part affected was how he controlled his foot.  Everything I wrote about was similar to his experience.  He did not quite get his foot working, while I wrote Kellen having problems with her hand. I wanted to give her another level of difficulty and something she needs to overcome.

EC:  The dog Luna was based on your dog?

CD: Luna was based on my daughter’s dog who recently died at the age of sixteen.  We are dog people.  My own dog died last year and we do not plan on getting another dog.  He was originally saved as a service dog and flunked out because he was too social.

EC:  Rae is growing into adolescence with some attitude?

CD:  I did it and so did my children.  It is terrible for everyone around them, but then they become lovely human beings.  This is why I put the book quote, “A lovely child one moment, the next a temperamental, shrieking virago.”

EC:  Did you get the island from someplace?

CD:  The island, Isla Paraiso, was completely made up. I like geology/geography, and read about what happened in California so I decided to invent an island. I put in this sail boat for them to get off the island.  I do not sail but both my children learned to sail in the girl scout camp.  I had fun in making it real and not able to use technology. 

EC: How did you come up with the book quote?

CD:  You are referring to “If a book isn’t read, it cries in its soul.”  Once a book is read there is more to it than just a cover with a story inside.  After reading it people’s imagination can go wild and they can put their own imprint on it.  What means the most to me is when readers find something that affects them personally.  For example, I was told how my stories kept them company as their mom was in hospice, or how they were touched by the story.  I also had in the story another type of book, a diary.  Unfortunately, they are something of the past.  But readers hopefully saw how books can be a form of entertainment when there is no technology.

EC:  There are a lot of tidbits about the army?

CD:  Like the motto, “Always prepare for the worst,” or how “the children in Afghanistan held rifles, fighting in wars so old their distant great-grandparents had started.” Most of the information came from my father-in-law who fought in WWII.  A lot of what he went through in his service applies today. 

EC:  There is a reference to “Beauty and The Beast” and “Alice in Wonderland?”

CD:  I think the story of “Beauty and The Beast” is enduring to children, especially that scene when Belle enters the library. It was such a beautiful scene. I think the storytellers nailed that one.  The quote about Alice In Wonderland refers to the serial killer as the Queen of Hearts that says “off with her head.” This was one of my favorite books.

EC:  How would you describe Mara?

CD:  Bad and crazy.  I wanted to explore how her father drove her to these extremes.  Yet, she always had a choice not to go off the rails.  Overall, she is competitive, mad, delusional, and a psychopath.

EC:  Why the Ford-100 pickup truck?

CD:  My husband had this type.  I relied heavily on him since I know nothing about cars.  After finishing the book, I handed it over to him to make sure I had all those scenes correct.  After he read it he was sad since I blew it up.  I knew I had to do something with cars because the family needed a distraction and Kellen’s background in the service was repairing autos.

EC:  What about your next book?

CD:  It will be a stand-alone based on the “Fugitive” TV show, but with a female on the run, who is innocent.  It comes out next year.

THANK YOU!!