Wednesday, September 9, 2020

What Would YOU Do?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Has it ever crossed your mind to just…walk away.? Okay, not now, because walking away from your life would probably be kind of impossible and even terrifying and not one bit exciting or and certainly not a solution.

But just saying. The fabulous Wendy Walker has thought about it—happily, she didn’t do it.  Even more happily, she decided to think about it—fictionally, at least. And make a story about it. A terrific, twisty, surprising story.

Like so many thought-provoking books, this one came out of real life. And out of possibilities. Out of family. And out of love.

(And read to the end for a giveaway!)


When Truth Meets Fiction

Don’t Look for Me began with a thought I had while driving home from my son’s soccer game hours from home. The trip took me on a back road where old industrial towns now sit neglected along a river. Because my son was a captain, he always rode with the team, so I made the drive alone.

The game was a rough one, both in the physical plays and mean-spirited heckling from the sidelines. Our boys left the field demoralized and defeated.

On the way back, I became fixated on how powerless I was to protect my children as they grew into adulthood. Yes, it was just a soccer game. But the feelings became larger than that. I realized, for the first time, that nothing I did could shield my children from cruelty, unfairness and loss that are all part of life. I became overwhelmed by these new emotions.

When I stopped for gas, my eyes wandered to a road off to the right, leading away from the path home. The road was flanked by cornfields on both sides, and went on as far as the eye could see.

That was the moment it came – this flash of a thought rising up from the storm in my head. Walk down that road. Walk away.  

The thought left as quickly as it came. I got back in my car and drove home, the emotional storm eventually dying down. As a writer, though, I have learned to grab hold of moments like this and ask the question – where did this come from? And, more importantly, is this something that other people might relate to?

After doing research, I discovered two fascinating things about this crazy thought. First, there is a psychological explanation for what I experienced. And second, it is, in fact, very common.

Because evolution is a slow process (it can take over a million years for an unnecessary trait to disappear from our genetic makeup), we, as humans, possess fight or flight impulses that are relatively primitive. When we face situations that mimic inherent danger, like an emotional storm in our heads, the impulse kicks in and tells us to take action – fight or flight. In my case, the impulse was telling me to take flight. To walk away. Within seconds, rational thoughts marched in and swept those impulses aside.

But more often than I was aware, emotional pain can become so extreme that rational thoughts are not able to override the fight or flight impulse. People then act on these impulses in ways that have serious consequences. Most missing person cases are the result of voluntary action – walking away.

This second discovery convinced me to write the story of Molly Clarke. A woman who suffered the loss of a child five years ago. Who blames herself for her child’s death and whose family has been unraveling ever since. Her marriage is crumbling. Her son is distant and cold. Her daughter is drowning in her own guilt from that fateful day, unable to move on with her adult life. These unbearable thoughts spin as she drives, like I drove that day, through a downtrodden, eerie town. When she runs out of gas, she breaks. The impulse to walk away takes over and she begins to walk down that road, flanked by cornfields, into the eye of a storm.

Sometime after, rational thoughts prevail and she seeks to find a way back. She sees headlights, then a truck with a man and a little girl inside. She takes the ride, not knowing the danger that awaits her.

That is how the story of Don’t Look for Me begins.


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  So you’re Molly.  Torrential freezing devastating rain, deserted highway, gas station closed and a truck with a man and a little girl inside. No cell service. There is NOWHERE else to go.

Do you get in the truck, like Molly did? Why?

And a copy of DON’T LOOK FOR ME to one lucky commenter!



Wendy Walker is the bestselling author of ALL IS NOT FORGOTTEN, EMMA IN THE NIGHT, and THE NIGHT BEFORE, with rights sold in twenty-three foreign languages as well as options in film and television. Her next thriller, DON’T LOOK FOR ME, will be published in September 2020. Prior to her writing career, Wendy practiced law and worked as a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Brown University and Georgetown University Law School. Wendy is currently at work on her next novel and managing a busy household in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Find out more www.wendywalkerbooks.com

 DON’T LOOK FOR ME 

The greatest risk isn’t running away.

It’s running out of time.
 
They called it a “walk away.” The car abandoned miles from home. The note found at a nearby hotel. The shattered family. It happens all the time. Women disappear, desperate to start over. But what really happened to Molly Clarke?
When a new lead comes in two weeks after the search has ended, Molly’s daughter, Nicole, begins to wonder. In spite of their strained relationship and the tragedy that rocked their world, nothing about her mother’s disappearance makes sense.
Against her father’s wishes, Nicole returns to the small, desolate town where her mother was last seen, determined to find the truth. The locals are sympathetic and eager to help. The innkeeper. The bartender. Even the police. Until secrets begin to reveal themselves. When Nicole learns about another woman who vanished from town, then discovers a small hole cut into a fence guarding a mysterious, secluded property, she comes closer to the truth about that night—and the danger surrounding her.
The night Molly disappeared began with a storm, running out of gas, and a man in a truck offering her a ride to town. With him is a little girl who reminds her of the daughter she lost years ago. It feels like a sign. It feels safe. And Molly is overcome with the desire to be home, with her family—no matter how broken it is. She accepts the ride. But when the doors lock shut, Molly begins to suspect she has made a terrible mistake.

wendy@wendywalkerbooks.com
IG wendywalkerauthor
Fb @wendywalkerauthor
Twitter – wendy_walker

@stmartinsmpress



108 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the new book, Wendy . . . .

    Despite the rain, the deserted highway, the closed gas station, I would never be brave enough to get in the truck with someone I didn’t know, even if there was a child there. I am consummately cowardly . . . but I’m glad Molly got in the truck so there would be this amazing-sounding story . . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was the little girl that got her in the truck. I always wonder about that. What I would do! Kids always make us feel like we are with a family. Thanks for your comment!

      Delete
  2. I don't know if I would get in the truck. That's a hard one. But I have been tempted to get up and just take off. But I know me. After a day or two, I'd want to be back. Then there's the indecisiveness. Where would I go? What would I do? Too many decisions!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree that the urge to flee hits us all at one time or another, but the logistics of actually doing it is overwhelming. It makes a nice fantasy to just pick up and leave and have an entirely different life. I flee every day by reading. It’s safer that way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, escaping in a book is safer and less complicated.

      Delete
    2. Exactly - that's the rational part of the brain kicking in and stopping us from action!

      Delete
  4. Would I get in that truck? I don’t know. I imagine I would rely on the vibes I’m getting. But I could ask the maybe samaritan to send someone back with a full gas can and see what he says. While staying in my car with the doors locked. Which means I’m probably spending the night in my car unless the highway patrol comes by.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, this is a chilling introduction to what has to be a chilling book. I can’t wait to read the consequences of Molly’s actions. I don’t think I’d get in the truck. I’ve seen way too many Criminal Minds episodes and read way too many crime stories. And as for taking off and leaving everything and everyone behind, I’m far too practical about what my needs would be-money, food, shelter, transportation-to throw caution to the wind. I like my creature comforts, plus I’d have to figure out how to take hundreds of books with me.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, man. In my right mind, I would never get In the truck. But if I were Molly, I wouldn't be in my right mind, would I? So it's kind of an impossible question to answer - except for writers. Which is why we need and love you 😊. I look forward to exploring Molly's mind to see why she got in the truck and the consequences that followed from that decision.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, so wise! Yes, Molly does seem to be having her share of troubles...and it's SUCH a terrific book.

      Delete
  7. Wow. That you spun that one moment into this book! I get the impulse to run away, definitely. But the idea of the man in the truck gives me shivers. Nice job.

    ReplyDelete
  8. How intriguing! Like most people, I can relate to that fleeting desire to walk away. This story alone sounds like reason enough to ignore that desire!

    Like Edith said... WOW.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My first thought was I would never get in a truck with a strange man but then the little girl. It would all depend on her, whether or not I would get in the truck. From where she is coming from I think I can understand Molly doing just that. What a terrific story start!

    When I was younger I used to imagine a day would come when I could just take off if I felt like it, that no one would say I couldn't. But when I became old enough to do as I pleased I still couldn't just go because there were too many responsibilities I'd have to make arrangements for. I never wanted to run away and start a different life but I can certainly see the appeal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And really, what we have is pretty good..xoo

      Delete
    2. Our fight or flight instincts are very powerful - and the desire to be free,

      Delete
  10. Congratulations, Wendy. This is so...skin shivery. I love it.

    As others have said, I've felt that urge to just walk away. But get into a truck with a stranger? I think I'd take flight from that, too! I guess I've read too many books where that simply didn't end well.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Don't open the door to anyone. Don't get in a stranger's car. Don't reveal your last name, home address, phone number...the list goes on and on. When my kids were in elementary school, our small Ohio town gave out "Safe House" green cardboard signs we displayed in the front window. Yes, we all had police checks first. We did have a kid pound on the door screaming for help during a violent dispute between his parents. What would have happened if we hadn't been home?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh, how terrifying! (And how many of the writers here thought: hmmm...

      Delete
  12. WOW - the intro gives me shivers. You've done it again, Wendy.

    Would I get in the truck. That's a hard one. When I was in college I was a hitchhiker (it was 1970 America's youth was on the move). My roommate and I got into a car that stopped. The driver was a man about our age. We were on US 1 in Miami. It's busy, but it has stoplights. He asked me to open his glove box. There was a gun. I shut the glove box and my roommate and I dove for the doors, she in the back, me in the front. He swung into a parking lot and stopped the car before we managed to get out. He then identified himself as a police officer and told us we were lucky, and never to hitchhike again. Know what, we never did. Talk about scared straight!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes, Kait! You were in luck there.

      Delete
    2. That kind of happened to me, too! 1970, I bet--my college roommate and I decided to hitchhike so we could campaign for Gene McCarthy :-) and the guy who picked us up took us to campaign HQ, and then yelled at us, saying if we were his daughters we'd be grounded forever.

      Delete
    3. I took a ride when I was a teenager - it turned out to be really scary and I jumped out of the car when the truck stopped at a light!

      Delete
  13. So scary--I'd have to read this book with my eyes closed! No, I wouldn't get in the truck. Heck, I wouldn't get out of the car. I'd stay with my car because even if I wanted to run, the car would give me more possibilities.

    And as an antidote to the mean soccer story--a warm baseball one. When youngest nephew was in middle school, we hosted a team from another school district. One elderly man, in particular, was having a fine time. He'd roar with approval for a good play--no matter which team. He'd caution his team's members when they came up against our pitcher, but in a complimentary fashion. And he laughed with sheer love of the game. When the game ended, the entire home team's parents clustered around him and invited him to come back any time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Flora, that reminds me of my father-in-law, whose favorite thing was cheering on his granddaughters' (my kids) basketball games. He said it was better than college teams on TV. Thanks for the sweet memory.

      Delete
    2. Aww..that is lovely. SO inspirational! xx

      Delete
  14. My car stopped on the interstate once, during a blizzard, and my girlfriend and I did take a ride to a safer place with a kind couple who stopped for us. Extraordinary circumstances. And I picked up a hitchhiker once, in town, in the pouring rain. He was holding an enormous, I mean like two feet across, bouquet of flowers and he looked like a drowned rat. When I stopped and asked where he was going he said just three blocks, but he was desperate to give the flowers to this "girl" (he was about 20). He yammered on about how much he loved this person, ad nauseum, I was glad to get shut of him. The rat didn't even think to give ME a single flower for the ride! He probably stiffs Uber drivers now.

    I'm pretty sure he did not end up impressing her, though.

    As to the story of Wendy's character: it would not take much to make her realize how futile an act walking away really is. In a lot of ways the world really isn't that big a place. Finding herself unprotected in the middle of nowhere in a storm would be a big motivator to take a chance on a ride to safety.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The flower story! That's a strange one...and interesting the vibes you got!

      Delete
    2. Yes - especially when she sees the little girl and assumes he's the father and it's a family.

      Delete
  15. I would get in the truck in the 1950's. and 1960's and 1970's. Now never. The book sounds trilling and unforgettable. I have had the desire to just walk away from everything especially during the past few years when my life was difficult and life seemed to be too much. I wouldn't though since it is irresponsible.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow, what an opening hook, Wendy!

    I was a pre-teen when Ted Bundy was killing college girls and would *never* get in a car with a stranger -- but I did so twice as a young adult who had broken down on the expressway (in the days before cell phones). One driver was a nice middle-aged dad the other was a nice middle-aged lady and I was very lucky. Nowadays I would assume they were serial killers and say "no thank you."

    I'd feel uncomfortable reading about Molly making that decision, but I'm dying to know what happens next!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, pretty much anyone is scary. SO sad. And yikes, Ted Bundy. Which proves the point!

      Delete
  17. I'd love to say I wouldn't go in the truck, but in her situation, I just might. She is clearly distraught and deserted. Plus, the presence of the little girl is disarming. But would I go in the truck? Not a chance.

    ReplyDelete
  18. The story is gripping and riveting. Getting into any vehicle is a death wish. No way. Just stay put no matter what. When I was young I heard about adults who walked away and left. My uncle who I met once in my life did that and no one ever located him. That was when it would have been next to impossible to trace him, but now it would be much easier. Evidently he was not interested in his family and wanted to start over again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OH, so fascinating...so no one EVER located him? Why would it be easier now? (Asking for a friend who is writing a book :-) )

      Delete
  19. Stupidly, I would probably get in the truck!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'll dive into this book, but I won't get in that truck!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I just finished an ARC of Don't Look for Me a few days ago and I must say it was nail biting suspense from word one. I had to stop reading every once in awhile and just breathe. Well done! I think probably for any of us when we are overwhelmed or just can't figure a way to fix something (like your son's soccer game and then your thoughts about the future) we wish it would go away, or we could just go away. Not self-harming but just kind of that child's wish of close your eyes and the scary thing will be gone. Not sure if I would have gotten in that truck or not. Easy to say if you haven't actually been in that situation. Normally, no, I would not but storm, out of gas, desperate. Scary thoughts, absolutely amazing book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hank - I did love it, it is fantastic. (What I would like to just walk away from is having to plan and cook dinner Every.Single.Night. ;-) xxx

      Delete
  22. Wendy, that is a terrifying premise! I do understand the "just walk away" fantasy, though. I wonder how much more often women have that fantasy than me? It seems to me that when men walk away, it's usually toward something--another woman, another family, maybe--but when women do it it's because they can't cope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so intriguing..hmm. I never think of men doing it, just vanishing. I bet Wendy knows! She'll stop by soon..xoo

      Delete
    2. I meant to say than "men," not than "me."

      Delete
    3. Many people have it - it's very common. Fewer act on it though.

      Delete
  23. The premise of DON'T LOOK FOR ME is just irresistible period and honestly, I don't think there's anyone who can't relate. I remember times feeling overwhelmed by children, responsibilities, the washing machine breaking down, the cat barfing, and fantasizing about just getting into the car and driving away from everything. Of course, the fantasy is that life would be better and simpler. But what makes exciting fiction is a story where life gets infinitely more complicated, and worse!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I bet the reality would not be that great...

      Delete
    2. Thanks for that. I was hoping that would be the reaction.

      Delete
  24. There are days it'd be very tempting to get in the truck. I did a fair bit 9f hitchhiking in the 80s but now that I'm older and hopefully wiser I don't think I'd get in. I'd consider jumping on a bus and running away though 🙂

    ReplyDelete
  25. Getting in the Truck: No- my feet would carry me perfectly fine on their own to the next destination. I would rather take my chances with the Puma, or Bear in the wilderness.

    ReplyDelete
  26. No way would I ever get in a strange man's truck even with a child in it. Way too risky. You don't know what he's capable of, especially nowadays. Scary 😱 and I have children that depend on me.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I picked up a hitchhiker in the '70s; then read Looking for Mr. Goodbar --never again! (The poor nice guy had the bad experience; my full cup of sticky cola spilled all over him!) Dropped him off at a laundromat...) still feel guilty xx years later!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I just burst out laughing. And yes, Mr. Goodbar. Probably saved many lives!

      Delete
    2. Ha! Yes sometimes people have good intentions.

      Delete
  28. Like Karen, I considered accepting a ride from an older man in a truck when my car ran off the road in a snowstorm. Instead, we decided he should just use his tow chain to pull my car out of the ditch. This was in the '70s, with no cell phone, and no well-lit gas station nearby.

    I have also picked up hitchhikers a few times, but they were usually people I already knew. My favorite was an actor named Jack Laufer. This was back when we were all still in college, and his car had broken down on the far side of town. I didn't have classes with Jack, but I knew him from a lot of the plays he'd had roles in, including the lead in "Godspell." Forever after, when people asked that old philosophical question, "If you saw Jesus by the side of the road, would you pick him up?" I could always answer, "Been there. Done that."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The book does sound exciting, Wendy. I have noticed it a couple of times on book lists I rely on, and thought it sounded good. I might not be brave enough to get in the truck, but I think I am definitely brave enough to add "Don't Look For Me" to my TBR pile.

      Delete
    2. SO funny! What a perfectly hilarious story. And now I am singing...

      Delete
  29. I’ve read too many books and seen too many movies to know never to get in that truck! No way, uh-uh. This book sounds amazing and would love to read and review!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I am alway fascinated by people who've gone missing and then show up twenty years later living their best life in FL. There are days...
    That being said, the storm, running out of gas, the little girl in the truck (brilliant) all play easily into the start of a story that I bet I won't be able to put down. Can't wait!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I have gone blithely into many iffy situations, as a storyteller, traveling teacher, and way back when, insurance agent. I have listened to "that little voice" and avoided some that felt wrong. One very late night, at the end of my reserves, I missed the turns to my friends' notoriously hard to find home in Chucky, TN. I intended to calmly ask directions at at gas station, but broke down instead. A sweet man offered to be my guide, so I followed his truck in my little borrowed truck, off into the dark. He took me to the landmark church near their home, and even called later to make sure "your company made it safely." Their daughter crowed, "This is why I love living in Tennessee!" From time to time, I think about how very lucky I have been.

    ReplyDelete
  32. The story and research sound fascinating! Normally absolutely not. But without better options...

    ReplyDelete

  33. You are amazing, Wendy! Thank you thank you thank you for an incredible day , and all the best for this fantastic book!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Oh, this sounds fascinating. And the tease of Molly getting into a car with two people, not knowing what awaits her, gave me the chills. One night thirty years ago, when I was much more trusting, my car broke down on a very dark highway in the middle of the desert. I waited and waited for the highway patrol to come by. Nope. No cell phones then. No phones by the side of the road. Finally, a couple stopped--a man and his mother. They seemed nice, and offered me a ride into town. They let me sit in the front, which seemed less threatening than putting me in the back of their coupe. But then it got weird. The guy drove fast. Their conversation was kooky and disjointed. They didn't pay attention to where I wanted them to go--the first exit, the bright lights of a gas station. I was starting to wonder if I could survive if I opened the car door and jumped out, rolling, as I had seen people do on tv shows, when the mother said, "Leon, you're scaring the girl!" and suddenly the mood in the car shifted and they began acting less manic. He drove me to a pool hall and let me out (why leave a young woman outside a pool hall late at night? who knows) and drove away. So many times I have have thought about how this story could have turned out. How could I have been so stupid? It is amazing young people make it to actual adulthood. And I would have told you I was grown up at the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Beth. That brings tears to my eyes. That was either an incredibly narrow escape, or nothing. But it was a lesson, that's for sure. "The girl," she called you. And you remember it so perfectly. AH.. thank you for telling us this..and we are glad you are here to do so. xx

      Delete
  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  36. AND THE WINNER IS TRACY WIRICK! Email me your address! to hryan at whdh dot com

    ReplyDelete