SAFE KEEPING is the story of another family in my fictional town of Hardys Walk, TX. The Lebays could be your next door neighbors. In fact maybe your kids went to school with theirs. And when their son is arrested for murder, your shocked. You talk with your neighbors and nod your head with the rest when they say how relieved they are it isn't their kid. You lie awake, staring at the ceiling wondering what you would do. It isn't the first time for the Lebay kid, either, who really isn't much of a kid at 34. The police questioned him a year ago about another girl who was found murdered in the same stretch of woods near the Lebay home--near your home, you think. It's close, too close. You thought you knew those folks. You go to church with them, shop at the same grocery store. They keep up their property just like you.
You can't imagine the heartbreak that's going on behind their closed door.
You can't imagine the revelations either, the awful truth that is bound to come out now. Because it's hard to hold onto your secrets when you're put under pressure, when the very lives of your family, your children, and everyone you love is threatened.
I really loved writing this book. The idea came from the time I lived on prison grounds and met the families of the inmates. They were ordinary folks for the most part who were given such a hard path to walk, caught up in a heaving sea of emotions from love for their son to anger over how he could have done the crime he was incarcerated for. They often felt they were jailed, too. It was heartrending, but also awe inspiring to see their courage in facing the crisis and weathering it. Often they said their family was stronger. SAFE KEEPING explores a lot of this territory. It seems the ultimate test of a family's love to have one of its members arrested for taking the life of another human being. While I was writing I kept getting this image in my mind of a person caught in horrific flood waters, how they struggled to hang on to the limb of a tree, or whatever solid, anchored thing they could find, but gradually, as they were battered by the wind and the water, their grip loosened, and finally there was no choice; they had to let go. So it is with the Lebay family. But it's often like that when we're hammered by some calamity. You can't plan for them usually; you can't prepare. So often all you can do is hang on, and ultimately, a lot of the time what we're forced to do is let go. It's scary. No one can predict the outcome. It's like this novel. The ending was so unexpected. Even for me. And I'm the author. So much for plans, huh?
One final note, another novel from MIRA, a very fine novel, THE RETURNED, by Jason Mott, was
also released in paperback this week, at a lower price point. I was glad to be in such good company. If you haven't read THE RETURNED, I can highly recommend it, and in case you didn't know, the television series, RESURRECTION (ABC, Sunday nights. Check your local listings.) is based on Jason's book.