As Chapter 5 opens, we meet a character nick-named Jay-rod. Funny, often secondary characters’ names just pop into my head, as this one did, but I’m sure it was no accident. We are huge NY Yankees fans here, and so A-rod is often mentioned in daily household conversations—particularly during baseball season, which is when I wrote this book! Also, my older son often calls his younger brother, whose name is Brody, “B-Rod.”

I—and many other suspense authors—frequently use atmospheric conditions to enhance the mood. A howling blizzard and a deceptively sunny day at the beach can be equally effective when danger is lurking.

The oppressive heat and looming summer storms in these scenes were intended to ratchet up the tension. I grew up in a Victorian house much like Lauren’s, and live in a vintage house to this day. I’ve never in my life had central air conditioning, and I don’t want it—I’m a fresh air, windows open, screen-door kind of girl. I’ll admit, however, that there are a few sultry summer days/nights that I do wish we had AC. Being overheated is not pleasant, and anyone who’s lived in an old house in the dog days of summer knows that ceiling fans and screens provide little relief. With regard to the plot of this book, I wanted to further portray the impression that for Lauren, there’s no escape.

The streets of midtown Manhattan are the setting for many scenes in LIVE TO TELL, and I’m very familiar with that part of the city, having worked in the neighborhood for years and continuing to commute to NYC through Grand Central Terminal several times a month to this day. Like the rest of the New York, this neighborhood is an ever-changing landscape, where squat, centuries-old brick buildings sit next to steel and glass towers.

There are countless good, old-fashioned Irish pubs in the city and many of them are located in those old brick buildings in the streets around Grand Central Terminal. I’m no stranger to them (I won’t lie—I’m a sucker for a rare burger and a cold draft beer) and one of my favorites is Annie Moore’s.

I had it in mind when I wrote the Byron Gregson scenes in this section, but I didn’t want to come right out and name the pub, in part because I wanted the reader to imagine his/her own favorite pub, and in part because restaurants—even longstanding ones—are transient in this economy.

My longtime readers will notice that while I always employ multi-generational viewpoints in my novels, and frequently venture into the viewpoints of teenaged girls in particular, I have refrained from using Lucy’s POV here. I did use Ryan’s, and Sadie’s, and even Caroline Quinn’s, but not Lucy’s. The choice was intentional, because I didn’t want to overwhelm the plot with too many characters’ POVs, and I felt that Ryan’s and Sadie’s were more crucial to the premise. However, I’m currently working on the premise for HELL TO PAY, the third book in this trilogy, and I promise that we will meet Lucy Walsh again, all grown up. Stay tuned for more info on that!

Often, Mark and I look at each other when we collapse at the end of yet another crazy day and wonder how and when our lives got so hectic. Between our schedules and our kids’ schedules and family and business obligations, we are running, it seems, from pre-dawn till after midnight. Like many of our friends who are in the same life stage, we long sometimes for the days when we were home every night with sleeping toddlers.

I’ve tried to capture that hectic household dynamic here with both the Walshes and the Quinns, and to show that the Cavalons’ bereaved home, by contrast, is orderly, quiet, and empty. Again, we will revisit the Cavalons in SCRED TO DEATH, as Elsa is the heroine of that book.

I’m not a soccer mom like Lauren, but I’m a Little League mom to two sons, and their springtime sports schedules have wreaked havoc in years past. I love watching them play, but when we have games and practices six nights a week for three straight months, I’ll admit to praying for the occasional rainout. And I, of course, have a husband here to share (rather, mostly bear) the Little League season burden. For Lauren, new to single motherhood and trying to shoulder responsibility for her children’s busy schedules, this is an added source of tension and resentment of Nick.

Marin Quinn and her daughters are primary characters in the sequel, SCARED TO DEATH, which is coming out in December, so I was very careful how I depicted them here. I went back and wrote and rewrote their scenes as I neared the end of LIVE TO TELL and the plot of the sequel began to gel in my head. Even secondary characters in their lives—like Marin’s friend Heather Cottington—will reappear down the road. And of course, when I wrote the sequel, I had to keep going back to LIVE TO TELL to reread the details I had already set up!

I’ll be back with my notes on chapters 9-12, so be sure to check back soon!


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Comment by John on March 10, 2010 at 10:29pm
Well, if this doesn't just make you want to run out and buy SCARED TO DEATH and HELL TO PAY... But December will be here before we know it, and what better gift could your fans ask for? Now I'm really gonna be impatient!

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