Can you find romance at the dentist’s office? I did. Twice.
The first time, many years, ago—and I mean, MANY–I fell madly in love with my very cute dentist. We squirted each other with the little air hoses—me in the chair, him standing over me—I will pause a moment while you imagine that. The fun with air hoses evolved into other fun, and we got engaged. And then, unengaged. But romance at the dentist. Who’d a thought.
Then, about a year ago, it happened again. This time, after my first four romantic suspense/mystery novels were out, and I was scouting for a new plot for book five.
You know what that’s like.
So in one of the worst of all possible events, on one level at least, I had to go to the dentist for a root canal. What romance can come of that? And, since I’m happily married now, the dentist, no matter how adorable, would not be a love-connection candidate.
But this time, romance—in the form of my new plot!—arrived in the dentist’s waiting room.
I was reading People magazine, one of the few joys of the dentist’s office, and there was on article about Jenny Sanford. You know her, right? The former first lady of South Carolina.
Her husband, Mark Sanford—well, you’ve certainly heard of him. He’s the one who told his family, and his staff, and the public in general that he was going off to hike the Appalachian Trail. When actually, he was off with his Argentinean mistress.
Remember that? Didn’t you think, at the time—how silly is THAT? And a pretty poor cover story. But anyway.
So the article in People was about how Jenny Sanford’s life had been yanked out of wack by this event. And I began to think about why someone would become the “other woman.” And in SUCH a public way.
I mean—you’re ruining your life, right? And especially in the case of a public figure, you’re certainly ruining the life of the man you ostensibly love. You’re ruining the lives of his kids, and his family, and your family, and, in the case of the Governor, everyone who works for him, since he’s clearly going to get caught at some point, and his political life would be over, and all his staff will be out of work. Not to mention all the voters who trusted him.
Why would the woman do that, I wonder? And why would the man? Lust, love, power? The thought that the rules don’t apply to them? The thrill of romance? Illicit romance?
And then, like all good mystery writers must, I started thinking—what if…what if there were another way to look at it. I wondered, might there be a good, acceptable, even, admirable reason to become the other woman? Hmm. Might there be?
Sitting on the tweedy couch at the dentist, waiting for a root canal, I kept thinking about this, about love, and sex, and relationships–and power, and manipulation, and ethics, and desire. And family, and responsibility, and consequences.
I got to the end of the story, and Jenny Sanford had one last quote. She said “You can choose your sin, but you cannot choose your consequences.”
I got goose bumps then. And I get goosebumps again as I tell you about it—because at that moment, sitting in the dentist’s waiting room, I thought—that’s my book. That’s my new book!
And it is.
THE OTHER WOMAN, coming this September from Forge.
A taut, tense thriller—where, just two weeks before an important senatorial election, a reporter suspects one of the candidates is having an affair—and she goes on the trail of an ex-governor’s secret mistress. At the same time, a Boston cop is on the trail of a possible serial killer. What happens—if it turns out they’re tracking the same person?
As the back cover says: Seduction, betrayal, and murder–its going to take more than votes to win this election.
And who is The Other Woman? I promise you—it’ll be a surprise.
But now, when readers ask “where do you get your ideas” and “where do you find romance” do you think they’ll believe me if I say “at the dentist”?
Where is the strangest place you’ve found romance? An ARC of THE OTHER WOMAN for one lucky commenter!
Award-winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan is on the air at Boston’s NBC affiliate. Her work has resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in restitution. Along with her 27 EMMYs, Hank’s won dozens of other journalism honors. She’s been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine.
A best-selling author of five mystery novels, Ryan has won the Agatha, Anthony and Macavity awards for her crime fiction—her newest book is DRIVE TIME, which earned a starred review from Library Journal. She’s on the board of Lyric Stage Company of Boston, as well as the national board of directors of Mystery Writers of America and vice-president of national Sisters in Crime. Her newest suspense thriller, THE OTHER WOMAN, is the first in a new series beginning in 2012 from Forge Books.