Author's Notes about Striking Distance

Sometimes when you're writing a book things don't go the way you expect them to go. That was the case with Striking Distance

The prologue came to me in a rush of inspiration: A Navy SEAL finds himself rescuing a former lover from a terrorist compound, and then... 

And then I began to struggle. 

It's not that the rest of the story wasn't there; it's just that I kept fighting it. I kept writing and rewriting, trying to organize the same set of plot points that seemed to resist coming together. I'd done my research. I knew the premise of the story. I knew the characters intimately. I tried everything from my infamous "plot clothesline," which hung in the family room for weeks and nearly garroted me on a couple of occasions, to purchasing Skrivener, which turned into a cool way to procrastinate, to brainstorming with my sister, my kids, my friends. 

But the story wasn't budging. 

It was only after I'd rewritten the first eight chapters five times—something I've neverdone before—that a friend made me realize what I'd been trying very hard to ignore: Laura's element of this book would take me to some very painful and dark places. There was simply no way around it. 

I've been public about the fact that I'm a survivor of childhood sexual assault. I'll give you the short version of the story here: I was walking home from school and stopped to see if one of my classmates was home and wanted to play. She wasn't home, but her father said she'd be back soon. He invited me inside to wait for her, but she never came. He was a predator. I was 10. 

I've done a lot to put that terrible afternoon behind me. Writing this book required me to revisit emotions that I didn't want to dredge up. Some days, it was all I could do to face the story. But face it I did, and slowly, so slowly, I moved through the rest of the book. 

The end result is, I believe, one of the best stories I've ever crafted. No, the hero and heroine don't have sex in the first two chapters, but writing romance for me has never been about the sex scenes. It's about the relationship between the hero and heroine and the deeper gifts that love brings to a person's life. 

I try to make the sex scenes in my books appropriate to the characters. I want them to be a part of the story, but not the story itself. Some heroes and some heroines can connect sexually right away; others need more time. That's the case with Laura, and Javier understands that. 

(For lots of scorching sex, read First Strike: The Erotic Prequel to Striking Distance, which tells how Laura and Javier met in Dubai City and ended up losing themselves in a weekend of no-strings-attached sex. It gives you a glimpse of Laura before her abduction and shows you why the two of them are so connected even years later.) 

Although the actual writing of the story was difficult, at times even wrenching, the research was fascinating. I decided before I put a single word on paper that if I was going to write a book about a Navy SEAL, my character was going to be the most authentic SEAL I could possibly create, not a fictional stereotype of a SEAL. All I needed was a special operator who would let me pick his brain and who would be willing to read sections of the story to ensure that I'd gotten the SEAL elements of the story right. 

I was very lucky to be able to work with a decorated Navy SEAL who has been serving his nation since before 9/11. Between workups and deployments, he answered countless questions, demonstrating the patience of a saint. He freely shared his insights, enabling me to get a much better grasp of Javier's character than I would have otherwise, accepting my thanks with incredible humility. I have dedicated the book to him. 

I also enjoyed working with Officer Bryan Bartnes as I researched explosives and bombing investigations. Bartnes is an expert in this area and sat with me in a small coffee shop, helping me to understand the mechanics of homemade bombs and what police do in the wake of an explosion to bring the perpetrator to justice. It was interesting to sit in a coffee shop asking questions like, "Let's say I wanted to blow up a building. How would I do that?" Bartnes doesn't wear a uniform, so we got more than a few curious stares and concerned glances. 

What I hope you remember about this story in the end isn't the fact that it was hard for me to write or that I did as much as I could to bring authenticity to the book. What I hope you take away—what I hope you remember for a long time—is the deep and redeeming love between Laura and Javier. Theirs is truly a love that transcends. 

Pamela Clare
September 27, 2013

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