By Jeff Salter
On Apr. 30 this year, I was proofing galleys for “The Overnighter’s Secrets”. Why do I highlight that bit of info? Because, on Apr. 30, one YEAR ago, I was standing in my friend’s garage examining an antique suitcase’s contents — which became the inspiration for my 7th novel manuscript. Yes, my 7th was first to be published … and was released by Astraea Press one week ago. [I will list buy links at the bottom of this post.]
By October last year, I’d finished and revised my manuscript and submitted it to two publishers. I’m extremely fortunate that the right one was interested — I had a signed contract with Astraea Press by the end of the year.
If you read my novel, you will hopefully also peruse my Afterword and Special Author’s Note at the end. In those, I detail the rather amazing – and, to me, quite miraculous – circumstances which contributed to this novel. I won’t repeat EVERYthing here, of course, but bear with me as I highlight a few items:
* My friend had acquired these items some 16 years ago, from dumpster divers in Calif. During that entire time he’d only shown them to one other person.
* We were able to find a name (Lizette Madigan) on the back of one photo from a family album … and there were names of cast members (including Lizetta Holdsworth) in several Vaudeville programs; we also found a name (Lizette Thorne) in the front cover of a diary and on the backs of a few photos from silent movie sets. But it was only through one of the legal documents in that overnighter that we conclusively connected all those variant names to the same individual!
* It was mid-May last year before I realized I HAD to write a story using this material … and arrived at an approach to my new novel.
* By mid-July last year, I’d written some 77,000 words. My research put me in contact with the granddaughter of the silent movie actress whose items had inspired my story.
* My friend willingly GAVE all those personal mementoes to the family which had lost them years ago.
Fact to fiction
So how did an actual silent movie actress (and her belongings) inspire the plot and characters of a contemporary novel of romantic suspense? This blurb will give you an idea, but you’ll need to invest $3 in an electronic copy to really appreciate it!
When Beth left suddenly, it broke two hearts … but she’d had no choice. Shane, a rugged, ex-Airborne biker, handled it badly … but so had she. Three years later and 2000 miles away, she desperately needs her ex-lover’s protection from a violent menace with ‘bad history’ who’ll do anything to reclaim a mysterious suitcase Beth possesses.
Long before Shane acquired that overnighter, a silent movie actress kept secrets there … and now several lives are in jeopardy. An ambitious female state senate candidate hires a ruthless investigator to eliminate potential campaign problems like her dark family secret — a bizarre 1889 murder.
Is Beth’s terrifying ordeal simply because she unwittingly possesses the overnighter’s secrets? Or is it due to the meth-fueled dumpster-diver’s unfinished business?
Shane will likely return to California after he resolves this Tennessee situation … so Beth struggles to resist her reawakened feelings. But before she can sort out their renewed relationship … Beth is kidnapped! To rescue her, Shane enters an obvious trap in a dilapidated hotel. Only with Beth’s help can both survive the violent struggle against her kidnappers.