DV Berkom, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Let's talk about your book, Bad Traffick.
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: DV Berkom
Cover artist: DV Berkom
Length: 242 pages
Heat rating: R
Tagline: Dangerous obsessions abound when an ex-assassin and a homicide detective race against the clock to find a missing girl before she's lost forever.
Bad Traffick was named a 2012 Top 5 Indie Pick by BloodWrites and a Top Pick by Night Owl Reviews.
Although Bad Traffick is part of a series, it is a standalone novel and can be read by itself. That being said, if you like the characters, then be sure to pick up Serial Date, the critically-acclaimed first novel in the Leine Basso series.
Identified as a person of interest in three cold case murders she didn't commit and required to stay in L.A., ex-assassin Leine Basso accepts a temporary position as a security specialist for A-list actor Miles Fournier, who believes he is the target of kidnappers. Leine finds she has her hands full trying to protect the head-strong celebrity, while at the same time fighting her desire for Detective Santiago Jensen; a game she knows she won't win.
Soon, a woman contacts Miles, claiming to be his long-lost sister. She confesses her twelve-year-old daughter, Mara, has been abducted by sex-traffickers and she's desperate to get her back, hoping that Miles will use his considerable resources to find her.
Leine learns from a contact at a rescue organization that Mara escaped and is alone on the streets in the sprawling city of Los Angeles. The traffickers are determined to track her down and deliver her to the powerful client who purchased her for his twisted ends. Running out of time, Leine must find Mara before they do, or she will be lost forever.
What are your main characters' names, ages, and occupations?
Madeleine (Leine) Basso – Occupation: ex-assassin and security specialist – Age: 37
Santiago Jensen – Occupation: Detective, LAPD Robbery Homicide Division – Age: 42
Mara Quigg – Age: 12 Occupation: Running from traffickers intent on selling her to the highest bidder.
The gentleman in the impeccable Armani suit watched the images flash by on the screen, a glass of Macallan single malt on the gold inlay table beside him. Two additional men, shrouded in darkness and unknown to each other, were also taking part in the video conference from different areas of the world, watching the same images. Several times one or the other would raise his hand, platinum or gold watch flashing in the darkened rooms, signaling for the Seller to pause the presentation so they could look more closely at the photographs.
The Seller was visibly sweating in the air conditioned comfort of the massive hotel suite. If he didn't make the sale this time, these clients would look elsewhere for their pleasures. His reputation as the go-to guy in the business was balancing on a knife's edge. Ever since the fiasco with the televangelist two months prior, he'd kept a sharp eye on the operational side of things.
One of the executives was fidgeting, apparently bored, and the Seller's anxiety level skyrocketed. He didn't have to find a mirror to know his appearance was giving his discomfort away. He could feel the cold sweat flowing down his back and armpits, running between his buttocks. What the hell do these guys want? Am I losing my touch? Usually it wasn't this hard to match the client to the product.
The Seller was down to his last two photographs when all three men simultaneously motioned for him to stop. The client in Saudi Arabia rose from his chair and walked to the screen, gazing at the delicate visage.
The Seller's shoulders relaxed. He shouldn't have been worried, should've known the eyes would close the deal: jade green flecked with gold surrounding deep black pupils. Everyone who saw her stopped in their tracks. She'd reminded the Seller of a famous photo he'd seen years before in an issue of National Geographic. She wore the same enigmatic expression. The silence of the buyers signaled it was time for the hard sell.
"Gentleman. I see you have exquisite taste. Mara is newly acquired and in pristine condition. I guarantee she will delight you with her generous charms. As I'm sure you'll agree, she has no equal. I always save the best for last. Mustn't trot out the most sublime too quickly, eh?"
There were murmurs of agreement between the men. The Seller's anxiety morphed to excitement as he prepared to set the hook. My God, look at them. They're practically salivating. A bidding war would be a welcome relief.
The client in the room waved him to his side. His unusual gold pinkie ring flashed, catching the Seller's eye. He'd seen the symbol before, but was unaware of its significance.
"Her age?" he asked.
The Seller turned and glanced at the picture of the girl. Her expression still held a trace of innocence, although churning through the American foster care system for two years had taken its toll. The photographer had captured the picture before Mara realized she wasn't going home.
"Twelve years, sir."
The man nodded his approval. He glanced back at the screen and steepled his fingers, bringing them to his lips to mask his words.
"Make sure she's mine," he whispered.
The quiet statement held the promise of a lucrative payday tinged with strong warning. The Seller's mouth ran dry. He nodded as he straightened and walked to the front of the room. The cameraman panned with him, framing his head and shoulders with Mara's photograph in the background. The other two clients would see only the Seller with the girl's face behind him on screen. Taking a sip of water from a glass nearby, he cleared his throat.
"Shall we start the bidding at fifty-thousand?"
Download an extended excerpt here.
What inspired you to write this book?
Bad Traffick deals with the pervasive issue of child sex-trafficking in the United States. I was inspired to write this book after watching a documentary shown at a local community college regarding the trafficking of children in the U.S. It's not something that only happens "somewhere else" - children are forced into the sex trade every day, from California to Iowa to Alaska.
The deeper I went into the research, the more I realized I needed to tell Mara's story. Most people are aware human trafficking exists, but a large majority don't realize it's so prevalent in this country.
Which character in your current book do you think readers will like the most? Why?
I've gotten emails from readers telling me they love Leine and Santiago's love story and want to see more. Mara, the twelve year old who is the subject of the search, is a close second.
Why do you write?
I've written since I was seven. Along with photography, it's been my favorite way of making sense of the world.
When you're not writing, what would we find you doing?
Other than reading, I love the outdoors, so hiking, camping, kayaking, gardening, traveling, etc. I am also an avid photographer and cook.
Are you a plotter, or do you prefer to make it up on the spur of the moment?
I started out as a 'pantser', or someone who makes up stories on the fly, but after I took a fabulous workshop on plotting, I now use a hybrid style that incorporates both when I write.
Looking back at your first book, what do you wish you had done differently?
Put it away and gone on to the next book sooner.
What's your writing schedule like?
I like to get administrative stuff done in the morning, such as interviews, answering emails, blog posts, etc., then sit down and write in the afternoon. If I'm really in the zone, I'll continue into the evening.
Any advice for new authors?
Show your writing to other people than your family and friends to get a more balanced sense of how well you write and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Your mother or best friend will not want to hurt your feelings (usually), so won't be a lot of help. Join a critique group with writers of varying abilities. Learn, learn, learn and write, write, write. Until you learn to look forward to criticism, you won't be detached enough from your writing to really excel at it.
When an idea hits you, what do you do to capture it?
Write it down on anything handy. If there's nothing available, I repeat it to myself several times until I'm sure I won't forget it, or tell it to whomever I'm with.
What other jobs have you held besides writing?
I've worked as a massage therapist, a certified Feng Shui consultant, managed the tasting room at a winery in California, fileted fish at a fish market on the coast, sold hot air balloon rides in Napa Valley (and worked as crew), and worked in the mud baths of Calistoga. All that, along with several 9-5 jobs in higher education, shipping and the banking industry. Obviously, I tend to get bored easily :-)
What are you currently reading for fun? Anything for research?
For fun: Harbor Nocturne by Joseph Wambaugh. For research: I just got back from a trip to the Yucatan and am currently deep into writing the next Kate Jones thriller (#6). I've been researching Mayan culture and jaguars.
If you could time travel what era would be your first stop?
Paris in the 1920s. I would love to be a part of the ex-pat crowd of artists who spent time there.
Do you believe in luck?
As a writer, you have to.
What kind of music do you listen to while driving? Same question when writing?
I'm partial to jazz and the Blues, but like alternative stuff, too.
What's your favorite movie?
Out of Africa. It's one of the best, heart-breaking love stories, and the cinematography is stunning.
Are you the eldest, middle, baby, or only child?
I'm the baby. I have an older sister.
Please complete the sentence
I love pizza with goat cheese.
I'm always ready for new things.
When I'm alone, I love to sing at the top of my lungs and totally off key while dancing to the radio.
You'd never be able to tell, but I was once super shy.
If I had a halo it would be in my back pocket. I hate hats.
If I could fly under my own power I'd travel a LOT more.
I can never go back to wearing big shoulder pads because they're really ugly.
The Kate Jones Thriller series:
Bad Spirits Books 1-5
Dead of Winter
Touring for Death
Cruising for Death
The Leine Basso Series:
Books Coming Soon
Untitled Kate Jones #6
Untitled Leine Basso #3
I'm giving away one print copy (US only) and 3 ebook copies of Serial Date, the first in the Leine Basso series. Leave a comment to be entered. Please write out your email.
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