Friday, June 18, 2021

The Perfect Bridge




HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Is there anything more metaphorically perfect than a bridge?


Two opposite sides being joined, by a seemingly impossible (and often beautiful) structure. You can go either way on them--into or away. Someone may show up that you hadn’t expected.You can go right to the edge--and make a decision. Bridges can carry you over a dangerous place, but if they break--and no one may be able to predict when that will happen--you are clearly doomed.

The brilliant Taylor Adams uses a certain bridge as the centerpiece--as you can see from the atmospheric cover--of his new thriller HAIRPIN BRIDGE. Publishers Weekly gave it a starrer review--and (deservedly) called it “dazzling.”

I asked Taylor--what is it about bridges? And as he reveals below, he “interviewed” several of them--before he came up with the inspiration for his architectural star.



The Perfect Bridge

       By Taylor Adams

I’m so excited for the release of my new thriller HAIRPIN BRIDGE, about a young woman who sets out to prove that her estranged twin sister’s suicide was actually a murder. The only problem: her murder suspect is the state trooper who claims to have found the woman’s body. Lena’s fight for the truth about her sister – and, quickly, her own survival – features twists, terror, and (of course) one very creepy abandoned bridge.



I’ve always been fascinated by bridges. Maybe it’s just my inner child – because I’m equally enthusiastic about dinosaurs and volcanoes – but there was something especially captivating about setting a contained thriller atop a derelict bridge. An ancient, rust-eaten structure that’s slowly cracking apart under the sun was too fun to pass up!



In the outlining stages, I was excited for what this setting could do for the story’s atmosphere. Generally, I love to set my stories in confined spaces to add natural pressure to the characters – and as wide-open and scenic as a bridge may be, there’s also a crushing sense of claustrophobia that may not be readily apparent until you’re up there. Spatially, it’s ruthlessly simple – there’s only one way forward, one way back, and literally nowhere to hide. All while suspended hundreds of feet in the air.



Early on, I researched real bridges but quickly settled on creating something fictional. This gave me the flexibility to design a look, feel, and mythos to best serve the story. 

One inspiration was the mind-blowingly tall (480+ feet) Perrine Bridge in Idaho – which was originally very skeletal and eerie-looking before being modernized in the 1970s. For Hairpin Bridge, I thought – what if the original Perrine Bridge fell into disrepair instead? What might it look like by now, decades after being closed and declared unsafe?


Another real-life site I considered was the stunning Astoria-Megler Bridge, which spans from Oregon to Washington (I’ve driven over it numerous times on vacation to the coast!) This four-mile bridge ends with a surprisingly sharp 180-degree turn a hundred feet above downtown Astoria, and inspired the titular “hairpin” aspect in my story. It’s stunning to look at – and perhaps a little precarious…


I was also intrigued by how local rumors (true or otherwise) can give places an eerie reputation. If a house can be haunted, surely an exterior location can be, too? Years ago, as a college student with entirely too much spare time, I used to carry cameras and audio recorders around local “haunted” locales in hopes of capturing something paranormal (with mixed, albeit not entirely unsuccessful results). Along those lines, I wanted Hairpin Bridge to feel like the sort of site I might have visited as a college kid – a place with its own dark history that may or may not be connected to Lena’s personal tragedy.


This faint tease of the supernatural reflects the entwined narrative – in some ways, heroine Lena is something of a ghost hunter herself (even carrying an audio recorder of her own), desperately seeking a way to make sense of her despair. I wanted the story to entwine past and present so tightly that the living and dead twins Lena and Cambry eventually start to feel like the same person – and as her confrontation with a killer reveals truths that Lena is unprepared for, we start to learn exactly why.


HAIRPIN BRIDGE is in bookstores now – I hope you’ll check it out!


HANK: I am reading this right now--and it is terrific! I have a huge fascination with bridges. I can’t understand how they can possibly be constructed. I can’t understand how they can be designed. Many of them are gorgeous.

They’re life-changing--and can be unpredictable and dangerous. (Do you know the story of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge? YIKES. Look it up. There are videos.)

And when I am on one, I’m thrilled and terrified and awed.


How about you, Reds and Readers? Have you been on the causeway to Key West? The Verrazzano Bridge?The Brooklyn? The Golden Gate? What’s your fave?


And what questions do you have for Taylor?



AND Congratulations Gigi Norwood - you’re the winner of a signed copy of Connie Berry’s THE ART OF BETRAYAL - Contact Connie so she can send you the book (message her on Facebook or use the CONTACT form on her web site http://connieberry.com).




Taylor Adams graduated from Eastern Washington University with the prestigious Edmund G. Yarwood Award. His directorial work has screened at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival and he is an avid fan of suspenseful fiction and film. His 2018 novel NO EXIT has been published in 32 languages and is currently in development as a feature film by 20th Century Studios. He has worked in the television industry for several years and lives in Washington state.




ABOUT HAIRPIN BRIDGE


From the author of the “full-throttle thriller” (A. J. Finn) No Exit—a riveting new psychological page-turner featuring a fierce and unforgettable heroine.

Three months ago, Lena Nguyen’s estranged twin sister, Cambry, drove to a remote bridge seventy miles outside of Missoula, Montana, and jumped two hundred feet to her death. At least, that is the official police version.

But Lena isn’t buying it.

Now she’s come to that very bridge, driving her dead twin’s car and armed with a cassette recorder, determined to find out what really happened by interviewing the highway patrolman who allegedly discovered her sister’s body.

Corporal Raymond Raycevic has agreed to meet Lena at the scene. He is sympathetic, forthright, and professional. But his story still seems a bit off. For one thing, he stopped Cambry for speeding just an hour before she supposedly leaped to her death. Then there are the sixteen attempted 911 calls from her cell phone, made in what was unfortunately a dead zone.

But perhaps most troubling of all, the state trooper is referred to by name in Cambry’s final enigmatic text to her sister. Lena will do anything to uncover the truth. But as her twin’s final hours come into focus, Lena’s search turns into a harrowing tooth-and-nail fight for her own survival—one that will test everything she thought she knew about her sister and herself...




"A shot of adrenaline straight to the heart! Propulsive and unpredictable, Hairpin Bridge will have you on edge from the first page to the last."
-Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of Home Before Dark


 

 

 

 

 


61 comments:

  1. I've been over The Golden Gate many times since I grew up in the North Bay Area and my uncle lived in San Francisco, so we'd drive across it to visit him.

    My question for Taylor - when are you going to write a book with a bridge, a volcano, and dinosaurs IN THE SAME BOOK? ;)

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    1. Brilliant! We are all waiting for that!

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    2. HAHA, I'd love to! I'll pitch "VELOCIRAPTOR BRIDGE (OVER LAVA)" to my publisher next and see how it goes!

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  3. Congratulations on your new book, Taylor . . . I’m looking forward to reading it . . . .
    My question: What made you decide to make the sisters twins?

    I’ve been on the Verrazzano Bridge, Hank, but I don’t like high bridges like that . . . but the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is nice . . . .

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    1. I know! Isn’t it kind of scary? It’s gorgeous, but I can never decide where to look

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    2. Thank you! I'm not a twin myself, but I do have twins in my family, and I always thought that connection would be a really fascinating theme to explore (especially in a dual-protagonist story, where both characters are fighting the same antagonist but in different timelines)!

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  4. Oh, this book sounds so good. Congratulations, Taylor, on the new book and using the bridge vehicle that so many will relate to. There's something both awe-inspiring and terrifying about a bridge. I am always astonished that someone would choose to die by jumping off a bridge. It seems such a brutal end.

    I have been across the causeway to Key West, Hank, and it's a beautiful drive. My husband and I have driven across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and while I wasn't crazy about the water seeming to be right at the bridge's edge, I wasn't all that scared. But, I've since learned that many people are paralyzed with fear in crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. In fact, I saw a news segment on people who are hired to drive others across that bridge because the ones hiring them are too terrified to drive across it. The company that offers this service, or one of them, is called Bay Bridge Drive-Over. The hired driver drives the person across in that person's own car. I might be more fearful of it if I had to cross it every day. It is 4.3 miles long and 200 ft. high, and there are no shoulders. The Talmadge Memorial Bridge in Savannah scared me because it was steep with 185 ft. height. The only bridges I've been able to walk across are the Rainbow Bridge between Canada and the United States and the Arlington Memorial Bridge in D.C. Both have very large, wide sidewalks where you don't have to be close to the edge of the bridge and see the water. My fear of heights really kicks in over water, so I definitely can't walk across a bridge with a narrow sidewalk.

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    1. They hire people to drive them over the bridge? That is incredible, completely bizarre, and hilariously commercial, and that gives me an idea. I mean, might you be more afraid of the guy driving you across? A stranger? Driving you across the scary bridge?

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    2. Wow! I'd never heard of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge - or that some people pay drivers to take them across. I agree with Hank - I think that's a thriller premise right there!

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    3. It's like--catcher in the rye. A job you probably don't need--but what if you did?

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  5. I've been on the causeway to Key West, The Golden State Bridge, The Verrazzano Bridge, and of course The Brooklyn Bridge. I walked the Brooklyn Bridge and it freaked me out. The one bridge I'm scared of is the Tappen Zee Bridge where it skims the water.

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    1. Have you been on the new Tappan Zee, Dru? It's lovely and feels much safer.

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    2. It skims the water? What do you mean?

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  6. This sounds amazing! Just added it to my to-buy list.

    Bridges rarely bother me...EXCEPT when traffic stops and I'm stuck on one. Then all I can think of is that Tacoma Narrows Bridge video that Hank mentioned.

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    1. That's so cool that you mentioned the Tacoma Narrows Bridge! I live in the Seattle area and have driven across it before! And I've seen those videos... If I remember correctly, it was known locally as "Galloping Gertie", which is an absolutely terrifying name for a bridge. I don't care how windy it is... a bridge should NOT gallop!

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    2. Yes, I am so obsessed with it--that's why I mentioned it in the intro. I have watched that video a million times.

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  7. Yikes, I just watched the collapse video. But the book sounds stunning, Taylor. It sounds like the twins are Vietnamese. Can you say why you made that choice?

    As a native California, I have a soft spot for the Golden Gate. As I mentioned to Dru, the new Tappan Zee is gorgeous. We have a new Whittier bridge where I live that takes Rte 95 across the Merrimack River and it's lovely, too, and includes a walking/biking path.

    A few years ago we drove across the Rio Grande Gorge bridge near Taos, NM. It's 650 feet above water! We parked and walked back onto it but I felt sick to my stomach being on foot and had to go back. Panic attack territory.

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    1. Isn’t it crazy that there is film of it? Wow. And it’s such a fascinating engineering story.

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    2. Irwin is an engineer with a very healthy regard for bridges. He's the one who made sure I saw the Tacoma Narrows Bridge video and also the one who told me about armies walking (not marching) over bridges. Even though he's the one who is more nervous about driving over them, I love that I am in the passenger seat so I can look at the views.

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  8. Congratulations on your new release! Bridges are a great setting.

    Drawbridges. They get me every time, especially when I'm stopped in line just before the clanking rattley bridge floor creaks and groans as it goes up.

    The Newburgh Bridge over the Hudson and the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway north of New Orleans come to mine. And the Accademia Bridge in Venice, where I can stand for hours watching the boat traffic.

    I live in Cincinnati, which has five bridges across the Ohio River, including the Purple People Bridge. It's always a gamble which bridge is open.

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    1. The Purple People Bridge! Delicious.

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    2. Why is it called the purple people bridge?

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    3. https://purplepeoplebridge.com/
      It was painted purple by popular vote and given the name.

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  9. Congratulations on Hairpin Bridge. What an irresistible setting and backstory.

    I love bridges. Traveled the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the Seven Mile Bridge, Old Seven, and the old Bahia Honda Bridge, Tampa bridges, NYC bridges, they're all gorgeous. I remember when they built Martha under the GW Bridge. Didn't care for her - not as scenic at all. My fav for beauty - the Brooklyn Bridge. Now, that bridge may well be haunted!

    Speaking of haunted. Many years ago when answering machines became a thing, I came home and pushed the button on my code-a-phone from force of habit. The machine showed no messages, but a voice said, "I'm dead, bye." I had a friend at the time who was a practicing psychic. I called him and played the message. His comment. They like to play with tape recordings. The message disappeared soon after.

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    1. No no no Kait. That is totally totally bizarre.

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    2. Thank you! And thank you for making me afraid of answering machines, too.

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  10. Congratulations on the new book! I'm not a huge reader of thrillers, but I must admit this one caught my fancy...I might have to suggest it to my book club.

    My father was absolutely terrified of bridges. He was a WWII veteran, construction worker, general all-around macho man, but bridges really got to him. He was the only licensed driver in the family as I was growing up, and I knew from a very young age that if we were approaching a bridge, everyone had to shut up and sit quietly until we were across and his white knuckles began to release.

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    1. That is fascinating! Did anything happen to him on a bridge that made him be so apprehensive?

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    2. Sadly he has been gone for many years, but I am not aware of anything. It couldn't have been a general fear of heights, because he was in the Air Force. I feel like it was just a very specific, irrational fear. Pretty sure if there was a story behind it, I would have heard it growing up. It's odd that I don't really know an answer -- it felt normal in my childhood, so I never questioned it, I guess.

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  11. Becky Sue EpsteinJune 18, 2021 at 8:50 AM

    I love going over the Golden Gate Bridge in SF and seeing the different shades of orange appear as you approach. And watching Boston's Zakim Bridge all lit up in the evening, when the sky is beginning to darken.
    However, if I read this book, I may never want to drive across a bridge again...

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    1. Yes, the second bridge is terrific. We walked across it the day before it was open to traffic, and it was glorious. And interesting now to remember that I said it was glorious, because it was torrentially raining. Torrentially. And nobody cared, we all went anyway, because it was the only day that you could walk across it.

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    2. Love the Zakim lit up, too - blue lights.

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  12. Taylor, welcome to JRW and congratulations on your new book and the film which is being made of No Exit. Like Edith, I am curious about the ethnic background of the twins and if there was a reason why you specifically chose that culture for your story. The story sound terrifying.

    I do not mind bridges, I don't think. Usually Irwin is driving on long trips, and we have been over many of the bridges that are mentioned above including the Golden Gate and the Chesapeake Bay. The setting of the Tappan Zee is truly spectacular and I always find myself, as a passenger, just loving the atmosphere and the view when we cross over any highway bridge. My very favorite is the George Washington Bridge. I love to drive along the Henry Hudson Parkway, and look out at the Palisades. On the bridge, I strain to look down the river towards the Statue of Liberty, which you can see in the distant harbor. When I was a child, my grandmother lived in Washington Heights and my dad would walk us across the bridge so we could stand with one foot in NY and one in NJ.

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  13. My favorite bridge is the Golden Gate in the fog. It can feel eerily weightless. Perfect setup for the imagination to run wild. Your title made me think about bridges and their shape - straight. Are there any that aren't? Which is why hairpin works with bridge as a metaphor. Clever.

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    1. Bridges that aren’t straight—-could that even work?

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  14. Congratulations on the book, Tyler. It sounds fascinating.

    Bridges don't generally bother me - which is good, since I live in Pittsburgh, a city that has more bridges in it than anywhere else in the world (including Venice). I guess there is one of every style of bridge it is possible to build here in Pittsburgh, so bridge architects from all over come to study them. I love the ornate styling of some, like the Smithfield Street Bridge. There was a little narrow one near me, the Hulton Bridge, that was really old. When you were stuck in traffic and a tractor-trailer thundered by, the whole bridge would shake and it was a little unnerving. They tore it down and built a newer, four-lane that is much sturdier.

    I do, however, remember trying to walk across a railroad bridge that spanned a gorge at Letchworth State Park in NY once. I freaked out less than a quarter of the way across and almost had to have someone come and rescue me because I was afraid to move.

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    1. Oh what a moment of panic—I hope you will put that in a book!

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  15. On our faculty trip to Oregon, the colleague driving our van was terrified of bridges, so our other vans drove before and after ours, slowly enough to stay in her tolerance zone, and my job was to distract her with stories until safely to the other side. Rental agreements restricted us to one designated driver for each vehicle, an inconvenience that was even worse when another colleague's eyes swelled shut from what turned out to be shingles. We opted to change drivers, ready to defend our decision should we have to reveal it.
    This might be too intense for me, memories already surfacing from horrific murders 30 years ago on the Chain of Rocks Bridge.

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    1. Ohhhh no—that’s awful. Funny, now… but. Looking up Chain of Rocks—that’s not familiar to me!

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  16. Taylor, I put this book on my list a couple weeks ago; can't wait to read it! I'm one of those people that are afraid of bridges, especially driving over very high bridges. But low bridges, all those on the way to Key West, where it feels like you are in the middle of the ocean, don't bother me at all. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel was another experience but that was more than 50 years ago so maybe it is different now.

    Locally, more or less, a bridge over the NYS thruway came down after very heavy rain, more than 30 years ago I think. Several people were lost.

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  17. I've been seeing HAIRPIN BRIDGE everywhere on must-read-books-of-the-summer lists! It's one of those premises that, as an author, I read and say, "Dang it, why didn't I think of that?"

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  18. I'm putting your book on my list of books to watch for and read! I've been over a number of bridges and causeways over the years. My very unfavorite one was the Huey P. Long bridge upriver from New Orleans. I read that it's been widened significantly now but back in the day it was two lanes one direction, railroad tracks, two lanes the other way. No shoulder and the lanes were only 9' wide.
    I drove a Mustang then and I felt absolutely claustrophobic on that high narrow old bridge!

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  19. Taylor, your book sounds terrific. I have driven over the bridge at Astoria, and I seem to recall lots of forest all through that area, with very few people, so even if you do get off the bridge, you're not exactly home free.

    Bridges are great places for local legends to grow up. When I was in high school there was a bridge that was supposed to be haunted, right near the spot all the kids called "The Albino Farm." Every "hook" and "hangman" kid myth ever told at summer camps and sleepovers got attached to that spot.

    And how exciting! Thank you, Connie! I look forward to reading "The Art of Betrayal"!

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    1. Oh, yes! The Hook and hangman stories… We will have to talk someday!

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  20. Yes, bridges.
    My family used to frequently drive from NJ to CT to visit relatives. We'd go over the Tappan Zee Bridge. I've always thought it was a terrific bridge with it's curve.

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  21. Taylor, I'm not usually a big thriller reader, but your book sounds fabulous and I have to find out what happens to Lena! And what happened to Cambry! (Interesting name, by the way. How did you come up with it?)

    I don't like driving over bridges. I think it's not so much fear of heights as it is a perceptual thing--the flashing of the rails as they go by makes me dizzy. As for favorite bridges, I have to vote for the Albert Bridge over the Thames in London's Chelsea. It's a wedding cake of bridge, and lit with four thousand lights at night--a sight to see.

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    1. Oh, glorious! And yes, I agree… They can be hypnotic to drive over…

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  22. Most of my bridge experiences are on the East Coast. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is slightly scary because of the height but it's wide with substantial lanes. An old bridge that has now been replaced that was VERY scary was from the Isle of Palms into downtown Charleston SC. It was four lanes but lanes were narrow and it was very steep so that river traffic could pass underneath. I used to hold my breath until I got over it! The "new" bridge is a tremendous improvement.

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    1. A couple of years ago I drove over the 1-40 bridge from Arkansas to Tennessee, over the Mississippi at Memphis. Now I learn that it has fatal cracks and could collapse into that great river at any time. They have closed it for repairs.

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    2. Yikes, Emily! (have you read Mary Alice Monroe's books? They take place there!) And Gigi, yikes.....everything is so fragile.xxxx

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