I actually had the concept for Scheduled To Die before I wrote the first book of the series, When Lies Crumble. I don’t remember exactly when the idea hit me, but it was probably while I was taking a walk or mowing, which is essentially the same thing, except with mowing I’m repeatedly covering a much smaller piece of ground and pushing a noisy machine. For me, both activities are conducive to story development. They are activities that require little concentration, enabling me to focus my mind on more creative endeavors.
I enjoy those moments when I’m pushing the mower around the yard, letting my mind explore random scenarios, and stumble upon an idea I believe would make a good book. It’s exciting as I start creating characters that will drive the story and take the reader on journey of mystery, conflict and resolution. The biggest problem is when I starting making up dialogue in my head and soon realize I’m either mouthing it or actually saying it out loud over the roar of the mower. Suddenly, I grow self-conscious, wondering if my neighbors may be watching, thinking I’m a little crazy and talking to myself.
Originally, I was going to title the story One Year, simply because that’s the length of time the killer is giving his victim to “live life to the fullest.” Eventually, I settled upon Scheduled To Die as the title because it provided a much more ominous reflection of the story. To me, the concept of a sociopath (Mike Sweeney) promising to kill his victim (Dana Carrington) in a year or sooner if she goes to the police added a deeper level of disturbance to the antagonist. I wanted Sweeney to be calmly terrorizing mixed with a creepy ever-presence and inside knowledge of his victim’s actions. Of course he couldn’t reveal that side of him in the beginning. He also had to have a charm and appeal that would make him attractive enough for his victim to invite him into a place of vulnerability where he could then pounce on her psyche. Add in a bold confidence that made him appear unstoppable and you’ve got a formidable bad guy to instill a paralyzing fear.
As I mentioned earlier, the idea of this story came to me several years ago. However, I reached a stalling point in the story, so as I always do when I hit a wall, I walked away and left it on the back burner to come back to at a later time. Then after Henery Press published the first Carter Mays story, they asked me about doing a series. That’s when I went back and revisited the concept and decided it would be a great case for Carter. With Sweeney keeping tabs on Dana to ensure she doesn’t go to the police, I thought it would be feasible for her to secretly seek out Carter for help. So I created a realistic environment and scenario where the two could meet. That’s the reason Carter doesn’t appear earlier in the story. The story began before the character, Carter Mays, was ever a figment of my imagination. It’s a good thing I created Carter to come along and solve it.
Alan Cupp | Facebook | @AlanCupp
Interested in sharing The Write Stuff with me and Girl with Book Lungs blog readers? (I hope you are!) Send me an email at jenna [dot] czaplewski [at] gmail [dot] com today!