Yes, it has happened – the two lone particles in my brain have collided and an idea has formed.
Hot Deputies Boffing in Utah
Yup! That’s the story for NaNo 2013. I have no title yet, so this is what I’ve been calling it since the idea first started forming several years ago. It’s not a pretty working title, but at some point we all know that this is what will be happening when the lead characters get together. How did I get here? Well… it’s a little convoluted.
When I was writing Blood Link back in 2009/10, I called to talk to my friend Darryl (Del) LeBouef. The original question was about terrain models, and this turned into a discussion about continuity of training in the military and the Rangers in particular. Somehow, we wound up talking about the desert phase of his Ranger training at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. Dugway is where our country tested all of our chemical and biological warfare stuff. It’s also picked up the nickname of Area 52 since NASA crashed a damaged satellite there a few years ago. As usually happens with Del and I, the stories began. (Have I mentioned that I love to hear men tell stories?) Anyway, Del is a master storyteller and this one had just the right amount of cool and freaky. The vivid picture he painted with his words has stuck with me and was what sent me researching and digging. Dugway was and is the ideal setting for some kind of bad crap to happen. But what?
Then in 2011, my friend Arwen and I were zipping up the highway heading for Salt Lake City to do some genealogy research, and she had slowed to pass through a piddly little town in Kanab County. I spied a group of men clustered outside one of the small gas-and-go type places. This was a group of about eight rancher/farmer/hunter types just standing around with their coffees or sodas talking about whatever it is that men talk about in these clusters. In the center of the group, was a damn fine specimen of a man in blue jeans, tan sheriff’s shirt, and a cowboy hat. He was laughing with the others, but his eyes were on the passing traffic. I have never been able to ignore a damn fine specimen of a man. However, I have learned that when you see one in the wild, look only with your eyes and not your hands. Touching leads to AARP issues – Arrest, Arraignment, Restraining orders, and Pointy comments from Mr. Scott because he had to come get me. Again. Thank goodness Arwen didn’t stop the car and my confinement was averted. And thanks to that little drive-by, I now had my hero firmly planted in the back of my empty little brain.
Not too long after the Utah trip, my friend Teresa McCormick announced she had joined the Army Reserves and would be deploying to Afghanistan. Teresa is a former Air Force Security Policeman who was now going to be in an Army MP unit. She LOVES the military. She’s great on the range firing weapons, but at the same time, she’s very much a “girl.” She loves shoes, clothes, dresses, shopping, wine, Skittles, and wears makeup! She even had the audacity to look good deployed! I had the brilliant thought that my female lead character could be a former MP who’s also a cop, and moves to Utah. I could come up with a lot of stuff for that. And I might even let her own a pair of heels and wear makeup as a nod to Teresa. All I needed to do was come up with a story that placed her in front of a smoking hot deputy and surely something good would come of that.
As I researched my location, the people who will populate the fringes of my story have emerged. As it always is with me, the more I read and learn, the more questions I have. I sent off for maps of the area, and emailed and made phone calls to other Rangers that Del knew. More stories have been added to my catalog about Dugway over the last year, and I was pretty close to where I wanted to be.
I know I can create a good book with the elements of Dugway as a character, the old Ranger stories, the deputy who can laugh, but never stops being watchful, and a smart, tough woman who has to look forward not back. But the sticking point has always been that I don’t write straight romance. There has to be an outside factor or threat that brings them together in a certain place at a certain time.
It turns out that I knew what that threat was the entire time.
Question: If you wanted to steal, build, or store a weapon containing a dangerous chemical or nerve agent, where would you do it?
Answer: Wherever there are chemical or nerve agents already.
We’ll have to see if this premise works out, or if the story leads me down a different path.