I belong to several groups of writers, both in person and online. One of the authors I know from both places is Diane Burton, author of romances in several sub-genres. Diane recently released a romantic suspense that I haven’t had a chance yet to read, but that I know from experience that this will be wonderful. I asked her to share with us the inspiration for her latest release, Numbers Never Lie. Here she is!
Thanks, Patty, for inviting me back to this lovely blog. Even though I don’t often comment, I’ve enjoyed reading all of your posts on such interesting topics.
The Writing Journey
Some books are easy to write. NUMBERS NEVER LIE was not one of those books. At the time I began writing the story, I worked in the corporate offices of a medium-size business. I’d signed with a temp agency and was assigned to substitute for an administrative assistant while on maternity leave. Her boss thought I did such a great job, I was hired by the company after she returned.
My skills in word processing (Word and Word Perfect) had been honed as a writer. I knew a little about Excel but wasn’t very competent. When I asked for help, I was directed to one of the accountants—“Go ask Dan.” So I did.
People learn in different ways. I have to see how something is done not just read or hear instructions. When I called Dan, he didn’t answer my question. He came to my office and showed me how to do whatever the task was. He showed me shortcuts. Despite my fluency in Word, I never knew about the right-click functions. Holy cow! Did that open my eyes. Throughout my tenure in that office, I often called on Dan for help.
Because many people in the office knew I was a writer, Dan asked about my latest work-in-progress. I’d been playing around with the idea of an accountant who discovers a major discrepancy while doing an audit. When I told Dan the main character was an accountant, he got all excited. Then, I said the guy is killed at the end of chapter one. That really deflated him until I said the accountant’s death is the reason for the story. Why was he killed and who done it?
Words are my talent. Numbers, not so much. I admire people who do Sudoku. I don’t see patterns in numbers. Codes are beyond me. But I find forensic accountants fascinating. They’re like detectives. They search for inaccuracies (especially, deliberate ones), ferret out clues, and provide an accounting analysis that can be used in court proceedings. Some examples would be a marital dispute (divorce), employee theft, securities fraud, insurance fraud, money laundering, and other criminal investigations. Several years ago, I heard of authors who believed their royalty statement were not accurate and hired forensic accountants to prove it.
That’s what started me on the journey to writing NUMBERS NEVER LIE. That book would have been published fifteen years ago—except for three things. I started that book while I was working full time. At the same time, my mother’s Alzheimer’s got worse and my sister, her caregiver, needed more help. Hubs’ mother had to be moved to a nursing home. Both mothers lived an hour and half away. Our only time to visit and help was on the weekends. The stress of that plus caring for Hubs’ aunt dried up my creativity. The three-quarters finished NUMBERS was put on hold. Until this winter.
Some stories take longer to simmer. While I wrote eight other stories and rewrote two more, NUMBERS sat in the back of my mind. It was fun getting back into the story, changing a few specifics, and learning why I liked that story in the first place. I hope readers enjoy it, too.
Thanks for asking about the journey NUMBERS NEVER LIE took.
A shocking secret brings danger to Jack Sinclair and his sister Maggie.
As kids, they were the fearless threesome. As adults, Jack’s an accountant; Drew, a lawyer; Maggie, a teacher and camping troop leader. Upon returning from a weekend camping trip, Maggie receives horrifying news. She refuses to believe her brother Jack’s fatal car crash was an accident. If the police won’t investigate, she’ll do it herself. Convincing Drew Campbell to help is her only recourse.
Drew Campbell was too busy to return his best friend’s phone call. Too busy to attend a camping meeting important to his teen daughter. Too busy to stay in touch with Jack. Logic and reason indicate Jack’s accident was just that–an accident caused by fatigue and fog. Prodded by guilt, he’ll help Maggie even if he thinks she’s wrong.
A break-in at Jack’s condo convinces Maggie she’s right. Then her home is searched. What did Jack do that puts Maggie in danger?
When his eyes started watering, and the numbers on the computer screen blurred, Jack knew it was time to quit. He whipped off his glasses and tossed them on the desk he used at Vander Haar Manufacturing. They skidded across the papers and would’ve fallen on the floor if not for his quick grasp. Damn, he was tired. He rubbed his eyes before glancing at his watch. Twelve-twenty. Time to get home. He interlaced his fingers, reached over his head, and stretched. The cricks and pops told him he’d scrunched his shoulders while crunching numbers.
Jack shut down the company’s computer, closed his laptop, and packed the latter into his briefcase, along with his glasses. He locked all the company papers, and his notes, in the desk. Lot of good they did. Thanks to his online classes, he’d recognized the signs of a problem the first day. Problems that became worse the more he investigated.
For the past year, he’d worked on his Master’s degree in forensic accounting. He never mentioned that to anyone. Ben was always too busy to just chat. Even before the accident, his partner had been out of the office more than in. He hadn’t thought to tell Maggie. They always had so many other topics to talk about. If he’d gotten hold of Drew last night, he would have told him. Damn, he needed his advice. Maybe he should stop by.
Twelve-twenty? Waking up his best friend, along with his daughter in the middle of the night was not a good idea.
Besides, Jack needed sleep more. He’d call Drew in the morning.
Slinging the laptop case/briefcase over his shoulder, Jack checked the room assigned to him for the audit to make sure he hadn’t left anything out. He shut off the lights and locked the door behind him. He still had much to do. Sure, Ben said he would finish the audit. That wasn’t the way Jack worked. When he started something, he always finished.
“Working kinda late, arncha, Mr. Sinclair?”
Startled, Jack looked over his shoulder.
The janitor leaned on his mop. “It’s after midnight.”
“No rest for the weary, Max.” Jack pocketed his keys.
“You be careful going home, Mr. Sinclair. Fog was rollin’ in off the lake when me and the missus drove in to work.”
“Thanks for the heads-up.” Jack saluted the affable worker and headed down the hall. The doors to the other offices were closed. Only the cleaning crew remained.
Hazel, Max’s wife, stopped dusting the receptionist’s desk. “’Night, Mr. Sinclair. You best be careful. Noticed you parked all the way down at the end of the parking lot. The light there is out. Saw that when we came in. The company that takes care of our lights won’t come out ‘til Monday. You want Max to get a flashlight and walk out with you so’s you can find your car? What with the fog and all?”
Jack forced himself to smile. In the five days he’d been auditing the books at the plant near Muskegon, he often worked so late that he ran into the older couple. “I’ll be fine.”
“’Night, then. You be careful, now. Ya hear?”
Even before he pushed open the heavy glass door, he saw that Max and Hazel were right. The solitary light at this end of the parking lot barely penetrated the fog. Maybe he should have taken Hazel up on the offer of a flashlight. He wasn’t worried about finding the Blazer in this pea soup. It would be a wonder he didn’t trip on the curbs.
The flashlight on his cell phone. Duh. He should’ve thought of that. Jack clicked it on, but it only shone a foot or so in front of him.
He heard a soft skitter near the dumpster. Rats? He shuddered and clicked his remote. From fifteen feet away, his head- and taillights barely penetrated the mist.
It would be a slow drive back to Grand Rapids. He should get a motel room for the night. Finding a vacancy anywhere along the Lake Michigan shoreline would be next to impossible in the summer and even more so late on a Friday night.
Weary beyond belief, he dragged himself to his car. He needed to return tomorrow—make that later today. He had to do more digging in the company’s files. He couldn’t believe what he’d discovered so far. This went way beyond anything he imagined. The implications—
Startled by the familiar voice, he dropped the keys. His phone slipped out of his fingers and skidded away. The fog gobbled up the light, and he lost sight of it. He peered in the direction of the sound. The figure stepped away from the dumpster’s hulking shape.
“We need to talk.”
Numbers Never Lie is available at Amazon.
About the Author:
Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides writing science fiction romance, she writes romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.
Diane is offering a giveaway as part of her release day celebration! Enter the rafflecopter at http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/16cf1daf21/