Melinda Leigh, best-selling romantic suspense author of “Midnight Betrayal,” shares with us her top suspense reads and takes us on her version of a date where she draws inspiration for her dark and intriguing reads.
One day while I was in the initial stages of writing Midnight Betrayal, I was scrolling through Facebook (procrastinating is an art form), looking at pictures my author buddy, Kendra Elliot, had posted of a gorgeous winery she and her husband were touring. At the exact same time, my husband and I also had a free afternoon. Were we sitting on a lovely hillside patio, tasting wine and enjoying some scenic vistas?
Midnight Betrayal is set in Philadelphia. I love the city, but I admit most of my time there is limited to chaperoning school trips to the historic sites, shopping, or eating. Due to his profession, my husband knows the city more intimately. So I asked him for some help researching locations. To be fair, first he took me to a fabulous lunch at my favorite Cuban restaurant in Old City, where the skirt steak and mojitos are to-die-for.
With the story still in its infancy, I was looking for inspiration and detail. We drove around for a while so I could snap pics of landmarks, homes, and businesses where my plot board suggested I would have scenes. I also wanted to get the feel of some of the neighborhoods where my characters would live. I described the characters to Hubs. He drove around blocks that seemed to fit. I rolled down the windows to absorb the atmosphere (exhaust fumes).
“What else do you want to see?” he asked.
Now we were getting to the interesting part. “I need a few good places to dump bodies.”
He didn’t miss a beat. We had a frank discussion about egress and ingress, security, and the physical practicalities that body- dumping would necessitate. Hubs provided some extremely clever (disturbing) insight such as:
“A body is too heavy to lug up that hill.”
“That lot has security cameras and night watchmen.”
While I appreciated the help, in the back of my head, a little voice said, “this is your job, but he seems to have put a lot of thought into how to get rid of a body.”
Anyway, here were the top five contenders.
The shipping yards lie on the southern edge of the city, a few acres of shipping containers stacked four and five high. Just one of those containers could hold dozens of bodies (just saying).
On the other side of Packer Avenue sprawls an equally large expanse of empty train yard. The weeds are waist-high, and there isn’t a soul in sight.
Abandoned buildings. Lots of options. The scariest of these are old brick warehouses on the piers over the Delaware River. As we drove by, in the blackened, smashed window of one, I caught a quick glimpse of a man’s shadow, which really added to the day’s ambiance.
Under the Walt Whitman Bridge. The dull green is creepy, even in daytime, and it always seems to need a paint job.
The Ghost Ship. The rusted skeleton of an old cruise ship sits in Philadelphia harbor. The plan was to refurbish the ship into a museum and cultural exhibit. Never happened.
“This is perfect.” I snap photos continuously. Ideas for dark scenes rolled through my head.
No, it wasn’t a lovey afternoon sampling Merlot at a beautiful winery. But I honestly couldn’t have planned a better day. After more than twenty years of marriage, Hubs still knows how to show this girl a good time.
Melinda’s Top Romantic Thrillers:
The Perfect Husband by Lisa Gardner. What could be worse than helping to put your serial killer husband in prison? Having him vow to get even just before he escapes.
Over The Edgeby Suzanne Brockmann. A female helicopter pilot and a navy seal are caught up in an explosive hostage situation when a jet carrying an American senator’s daughter is hijacked.
Naked in Death by J.D. Robb. While searching for a ruthless killer, a New York police detective is tempted by the prime suspect in her murder investigation, an Irish billionaire with a shady past.