Sunday, February 12, 2012

Snow Escape by Roberta Goodman | Excerpt, Interview |Suspense Thriller

Set against the backdrop of a historic snowstorm, Snow Escape is the story of one woman’s innocent foray into the world of online dating turned deadly.  

Allegra Maxwell is a 30-year old, single school teacher looking for love. Having chosen to use the Internet to meet the opposite sex, she encounters an articulate, prospective beau on the night the biggest blizzard in history is blanketing the Big Apple. Their pleasant conversation soon turns sinister when she discovers that “Charles” has been stalking her for weeks and claims he lives in her building. With threats of destroying her little by little are made, Allegra must stay one step ahead of the mind games. Turning to neighbors for help, tragic consequences ensue.

When her sanity is questioned, because the online evidence her stalker exists disappears, Allegra must prove he does exist and she isn’t losing her mind. When a power outage thrusts her into darkness, will she be able to overcome the helplessness she feels? Placed in a situation that’s spiraling totally out of her control, while trapped in her apartment building with no escape, will she survive until the authorities can reach her? 


Note:  I'm extending the giveaway because the book is currently undergoing revisions and should be finished near the end of March.  The winner will receive the newly revised book as soon as it is available in early April.

Enter to win a PDF copy of Snow Escape.
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Giveaway ends March 31st 11:59PM Central Time


While using Instant Messenger to talk to Charles, a man she met through an online dating site, Allegra realizes he might be up to no good.

Sitting back down at the computer, she saw that Charles had written that people should expect widespread power outages to occur. The weight of the snow on tree branches would eventually cause some of those branches to snap, taking power lines down with them. 
“God...I hope that doesn’t happen,” Allegra remarked. “Without power there won’t be any heat and with it being so cold out it would be freezing inside my apartment in no time.” 
“Then I guess we’d all just have to bundle up, putting extra clothes on to stay warm,” Charles added. 
Not wanting to think about worst case scenarios, Allegra tried to change the subject, but Charles continued to talk about the fact that the snow was going to wreak havoc on everyone and everything. 
“Think about it, what if something horrible happened right now? Do you think the police would be able to get to anyone in a timely manner? Yes, snow plows were out, but the snow was falling so fast that as soon as a plow cleared the road, snow was just covering it up again. The blizzard conditions would also make it difficult to drive, with those out on the roads having to drive slowly and carefully, especially at night.” 
Allegra typed, “Why dwell on worst case scenarios?"
“In situations like this, Allegra, Mother Nature is calling the shots and one should think about what one would do in an emergency.” Then he asked her, “What if one of your neighbors was up to no good, in just a situation like this, there would be no one to stop them.”
“What do you mean no good?"
He went on to elaborate by saying, “Suppose the person living next door to you decided to kill his wife and she manages to call for help, do you think the cops would get to her in time before her husband offs her?"
 “I don’t want to think about a neighbor of mine doing that, it’s morbid.”
“Ah...but things like that do happen, Allegra, as well as many other awful things. There are people in this world who wait for once in a lifetime weather events like we’re experiencing right now to commit the most heinous crimes imaginable.”
Confused by what he was saying and the fact that their conversation had taken this unique direction, she wrote, “I don’t like where this conversation is headed Charles.”
“Why Allegra, do you think that our building is so secure that nothing like what I’m talking about could ever happen here? Do you think the individuals that live here aren’t capable of snapping, of losing their minds, and committing horrible crimes?"
The words “our building” and “live here” hit her like a tornado. She typed, “You live in my building?"
For several minutes, she waited for him to type a response. When none came, her heart racing she wrote, “Who are you and why can’t you answer my question?"
Finally, he wrote, “I’m the one who will burrow inside your head. I’m the one who will turn you inside out. I’ve been watching you for weeks now and I know all about you and what you’re about.”
“What kind of sick game are you playing Charles? I don’t appreciate it,” Allegra demanded to know, figuring he was obviously an unbalanced individual who got off on scaring people.
“It isn’t a game; it’s who I am and what I’m about. Our conversation is over, but you will be hearing again from me soon.”
Allegra wrote back, “What the hell does that mean,” but by the time she had sent it, he had logged off. With her hands shaking and her heart beating a mile a minute, she tried to process what just happened. How had such a pleasant innocent conversation taken such a sinister turn? Who was this person and why had he said all those awful things? It was as if he had talked so nicely to her for almost two hours, trying to gain her trust, just so he could fuck with her mind in the end, but why? Her thoughts racing, she jumped when she heard the ringtone of her cell phone, which was sitting on her bed, start playing. Grabbing the phone, she saw it was Maggie returning her call.


Where do you dream of traveling to and why?
I’ve always had a fascination with the city of New Orleans from the time I was a small child. The architecture and the history of the place give it a unique flavor that I don’t think exists anywhere else. The one place that might come close is Savannah, Georgia. I actually had the pleasure of visiting that beautiful city last summer, which has increased my desire to visit NOLA. I have an appreciation for antebellum homes and Oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. I’d also love to travel to Italy. Most of my ancestors come from there, so for me it would be a pilgrimage to learn more about my family’s past.   
Tell us about your current release.
I can actually sum up its plot in one sentence.
“A historic snowstorm and an online conversation with a stranger mix to create tragic consequences for an unsuspecting teacher.”
I was inspired to write Snow Escape back in February of 2010. My area of the country was in the midst of the worst winter on record. There were a total of three huge snowstorms, two of which occurred in less than a week. After the back-to-back storms, I had a light bulb moment. What would happen if a woman, who lived in a big city, was trapped in her apartment building because it just kept snowing? What if she was a member of an online dating service and someone she met through the site decided to contact her during the storm. He would convince her to use Instant Messaging so they could get to know each other. At first, the conversation would be perfectly normal. Several hours into their talk his true colors would emerge. I wanted to create a story that would illustrate how vulnerable a woman could become if she attracted the wrong individual into her life. Online dating can be a dangerous proposition, so I wanted the story to evolve into a cautionary tale. I also decided to go a step further and write it so the reader would question if my main character, Allegra, was imagining the whole thing. I ended up mixing in an eclectic cast of characters and Snow Escape was born. 
Does your significant other read your stuff?
No, he doesn’t. My husband is not a reader. He’d be the first one to admit he waits for the film version to be released.
Do you have a milestone birthday coming up? If so, how are you approaching it?
Yes, I do. I will be 40 years old in April, even though I don’t look it. LOL. I’m trying to approach it with a positive attitude. I’ve been fortunate enough to see my dream of having a novel published before I reached this milestone and for that I’m grateful. It’s scary to think I’m going to be considered middle-aged, but my philosophy is to appreciate the fact that I’ve lived long enough to see this age. That being said, my husband has been told I will divorce him if he throws me an over the hill surprise party.   
What would you consider to be the best book you have ever read? 
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is my favorite book. I actually prefer fiction to non-fiction as a general rule, so for me to consider this book the best is a testament to its greatness. I didn’t actually read it until after I had visited the locale where the story takes place. Author John Berendt captured the essence of Savannah, Georgia so perfectly. Eccentric personalities and humor flow and there were times I couldn’t stop laughing at the antics of some of the characters. It’s an incredible read that was on the NY Times Bestsellers list for four years.
How do you react to a bad review of your book?
I’ve never had a truly horrendous review. If it does ever happen, which I’m sure it will eventually, than I will take what is written and process it the same way as I process everything else. I’m sure it will be like a knife through my heart but that’s life. Every reader comes away with something important to say about what they’ve read and I feel it’s important for me to absorb their feedback. The only way I can grow as an artist is to read and or listen to people’s reactions, good or bad. 
What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?
This is not an attribute, but a patient psychiatrist to listen to my grips is essential. I’m just joking. I actually would go insane if I couldn’t write, because it’s my coping mechanism. A healthy sense of humor tends to get me by in addition to not worrying how people perceive me. I refuse to dwell on every harsh thing that might be said about my writing or me as a person. It’s not easy showing the world my work, but it’s the calling that has chosen me. 
Beatles or Monkees? Why?
Without hesitation I have to say the Fab Four. When the Beatles came onto the scene they changed the face of music forever. There were bigger than life at one point in time. They kept pumping out amazing music that will continue to appeal to young and old listeners forever. Quality music can never die. 
What one word best describes you?
Scaling it down to one is tough, but I’d have to say creative. I have an incredible imagination.  
Do you have a Website or Blog?
Yes, my blog is called Ro-alwaysinspired. When I started it back in 2010 I used it mainly as a place to vent about my frustration breaking into the writing world. My husband was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of 2011 and my site was a place to document what we were going through before and during his treatment. It’s now evolved into a forum where I showcase other author’s works, instead of just focusing so much on myself. I review short stories in addition to the occasional novel and I still manage to write about whatever strikes my fancy.
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