Friday, May 19, 2017

Is Anyone Safe from Crazy People?

When they said "Write what you know" I took it to heart and wrote a book about an internationally-loved rock singer with a deadly stalker.

Okay, I took some poetic license to embellish what I know. I created a stunningly gorgeous, rock goddess with heart, beloved and supremely talented as a singer/songwriter/dancer, but in my younger life, I sang with a rock band. That part I knew. Years later, as a singer in a show on Maui, I did have what is now called a stalker. I was one of the lucky stalker victims in the world in that he didn't follow me. Instead, I was pursued by letters and threats that got more twisted and threatening as the weeks passed until finally he wrote a letter to the producer of a show he'd seen me in to say we'd had inappropriate relations in the parking lot while I was still in costume and I'd promised him inappropriate things. My stalker suggested I be fired. The producer was like a big brother to me and knew none of this would be true. All this happened because I sang to him as part of the evening's entertainment, in character.
Picture a warm Hawaiian evening with the scent of plumeria in the air as the lights go up at the historically charming Lahaina Towne hotel, The Pioneer Inn. The Thursday show in the private courtyard was called The Whaling Party, a dinner and two hours of entertainment re-enacting the days when Lahaina was a stop over for raunchy whalers. The show involved a lively group of actors playing whalers, Can Can dancers, missionaries, a pirate-style MC and musicians. The band dressed as pirate/whalers and the singer dressed in a colorful, ruffled floor-length skirt, slit to her thigh and a lingerie-style bodice decorated in ribbons and feathers.
I was the singer.
Every Thursday was the same show. Every week, when I went into the audience to sing to one lucky man at a front table, I would twirl his hair in my fingers, sing provocatively to him with the spotlight highlighting the tongue-in-cheek, amusingly embarrassing moment for my victim. It was always met with giggles from the audience.
One such night, we were doing a special performance for a group who arrived in handicap-worthy vans and I chose a sixty-ish, grey-haired gentleman in a wheelchair in the front row. He was a good sport and as a seasoned performer and actress, I thought nothing more than usual about the evening's performance.
Then the letters began to arrive at the Pioneer Inn, addressed to Over the Rainbow, the singer in the Whaling Show. He didn't know my real name, but said when I sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow, it was a heavenly moment for him. Then he went on to describe how heavenly, using lewd descriptions of his pleasure in remembering me. Let's just say, the experience of receiving these letters was surreal. In my performing career, I'd had men ask for my autograph, a date, a moment to talk, but I'd never had threatening fan letters. In the first one, he wrote me a love poem, telling me that he was smitten. I didn't contact him. For one reason, I wasn't interested and it would be extremely weird (and unprofessional). Also, I was married, something I'm sure he didn't know. Another thing he didn't take into account as he mailed letters that became increasingly threatening, was that I was playing a part in that Whaling Party show. As an actress, I wore a designated costume that happened to be flouncy and sexy, and I was following a script that told me to go into the audience, find a man to sing to and flirt with him.
I still have the letters, although I haven't read them in twenty-five years, but I remember how horrifying it was to know that someone out there was fantasizing about me and imagining doing things to me. I felt lucky in some ways that my stalker was confined to a wheel chair. The last letter was to my friend, the producer asking that I be fired for taking advantage of a man in a wheelchair in the parking lot. The producer wrote him back, telling him that he was glad my fan enjoyed the show but if he persisted in writing these letters, he'd report the man to the police.
Only one other time in my singing career did I encounter a threat that left me frightened for my safety and this man was angry at my husband. He threatened to cut out my tongue with a broken Coke bottle so I would never sing again, in retaliation to my husband firing him. That got him on the RCMP watch list. (We lived in Canada at the time.) They reported that he moved to Arizona after that.
Being stalked is a feeling of horrifying helplessness, reducing someone to a fear that dogs them every waking moment. Are they watching me now, waiting to attack? What did I ever do to them to make them target me?
It was with those memories that I wrote my novel Necessary Detour, the story of a world-famous rock star very familiar with adoring fans and even stalkers. But when the threatening letters get increasingly more heinous, she escapes to her remote lake house in northern Washington to hide. The story is part Bodyguard (the movie with Whitney Houston) and part Rear Window (Hitchcock's movie about spying on neighbors.) For Goldy, staying safe in the lonely forest of Louisa Lake is two-fold. She's just found that she's pregnant.

Writing about the fear of the unknown is a theme that speaks to me and I hope you find Goldy's quest for safety and normalcy after the life of a rock goddess, an interesting and chilling reminder that no one is completely safe from the crazy people out there. Especially rock goddesses in skimpy clothing singing about hot love on stage.

NECESSARY DETOUR has enjoyed great success, including being ranked #1 in Romantic Suspense on Amazon

Happy Reading!
Kim Hornsby
Bestselling Romantic Suspense Author

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