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Archive for March 30th, 2010

Ever since her father was stabbed to death in a home invasion, Julia “Jules” Farentino has been plagued by nightmares. Her half-sister, Shaylee, now seventeen, has had her own difficulties since the tragedy, earning a rap sheet for drug use, theft, and vandalism. Still, when Jules learns of her mother’s decision to send Shay to an elite boarding school in Oregon, she’s skeptical. The Academy has a reputation for turning wayward kids around—but one of its students went missing six months ago and her body has never been found. There are rumors she may have died during one of the school’s questionable treatments. Once enrolled, Shay grows fearful, convinced her every move is being watched. And the deeper Jules digs, the more concerned she becomes.

On impulse, Jules applies for a teaching job at the Academy. Though the facility boasts state-of-the-art equipment and a breathtaking campus, Jules senses cracks in the director’s do-good demeanor. Shortly before Jules arrived, a student was found hanged, and a hysterical Shay believes it was murder. Staff members are wary and unwelcoming—all except Cooper Trent, another recent hire who has his own suspicions, and his own secrets.

Then another girl goes missing, and yet another is found dead. There’s no doubt something sinister is at hand—but Jules may be too late to stop it. Behind the Academy’s idyllic veneer lurks an evil force on a brutal and terrifying mission. And Jules has become the next target of a bloodthirsty killer without limits, without remorse, without mercy…

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You know how people “Google” themselves?  Well, I don’t really do that, not out of any lack of vanity, but mostly because there’s so many listings of books for sale on such an amazing multitude of sites that, even I want to dig for some feel good mentions, it would take forever to get to them.  At least that’s what I tell myself.  I think maybe I just don’t want to take the chance of running across anything negative.  I can be a chicken that way. 

However, recently someone in the office did take a look and reminded me of an interview in which I talked about my sister (and now co-author of Wicked Game and the 2011 Wicked Lies!—plug intended) Nancy Bush and growing up in Molalla, Oregon, a small timber town in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.  The interview was tied to Final Scream, which was set in an Oregon timber town–apple not so far from tree.  I started thinking about how much I enjoy writing about the Pacific Northwest, even though I haven’t done it all that frequently in my suspense novels.  Fatal Burn is also set close to home, as is Nancy and my  Wicked Game

It made me wonder what took me so long to set a story in one of my favorite places—the truly breathtaking Siskiyou Mountains in the southern part of the state. That’s where Without Mercy is set, right on the Oregon-California border.  I wanted to set my fictional Blue Rock Academy somewhere rugged, beautiful and untouched.  Blue Rock is an elite boarding school for troubled teens so it needed to be hard to reach and hard to leave. And I wanted the contrast of an idyllic setting against the terror that is about to overtake the school’s staff and students.  I think it worked. Certainly it did for me.  Even when I did my best to view the story dispassionately, I was uneasy thinking about how the evil people can harbor can arise in the most unexpected, seemingly safe havens.

So, yes, amid the landscape I love, I had Jules Farantino walk into the unknown, determined to safeguard her half-sister Shaylee, whose been sent there instead of juvenile detention.  Jules is troubled by the rumors surrounding the disappearance of a student months ago and, now, by Shay’s insistence that the missing girl was killed by someone at the school. 

Jules heads to Blue Rock” undercover,” managing to be hired as a last minute replacement for a teacher who left under accusations of an affair with a student.  She doesn’t know exactly what she expects to find, but it certainly didn’t include discovering her former lover on the staff and another student missing the very day she arrives.  Things get worse.

I’m not going to give any more away.  It’s not fair.  But I will say I hope you’ll read and enjoy Without Mercy and the trip to southern Oregon. I don’t think it will be too long before I’m drawn back home for another story.  First though, I’m heading back to New Orleans.  I hope you’ll meet me there next year.

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Huge thanks to Lisa for being our guest today! for more infomation on her books and what she has coming out next, visit her website here. Don’t forget to leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of Without Mercy. Good luck!

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