Elizabeth Breck is a state of California licensed private investigator. A native Californian, she had read Harriet the Spy twenty times by the time she was nine. Is it surprising that she grew up to become a PI? She has worked mainly in the field of insurance investigations, making her the real-life version of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone. Anonymous is Elizabeth’s first novel.
Must have hope
“First and foremost, I wanted to tell a thrilling mystery that keeps the reader guessing and on the edge of their seat,” said Elizabeth. “I wrote a mystery that I would like to read. However, I insist that all of my books have hope in them. I put it on a sticky note next to my computer: ‘Must have hope.’ I want the reader to feel hope at the end of the book. I want them to close the book and feel hopeful enough that they have a sudden urge to tackle a project, clean out a closet, start a business, call an old friend they haven’t spoken to in a long time. I worked hard to make sure this story instills a feeling of hope in the reader.”
Inspired by true events
Elizabeth was watching TV the night 20/20 aired an episode about the Golden State Killer. This was the unsolved case of a killer who terrorized both Northern and Southern California in the 1970s and 80s. At the time, the man was still at large and the police did not yet know his identity.
Elizabeth tweeted using a variety of hashtags about the case with her thoughts about who the killer might be. “This was right after the show that night, so perhaps 10 or 11 o’clock at night. I then went to bed in my quiet house in San Diego, all by myself, and I suddenly got really afraid: what if he was still alive, and he was following social media? What if he figured out who I was from my Twitter account and tracked me down? I jumped up out of bed and deleted all of my tweets, and I had trouble sleeping that night.”
While DNA evidence eventually led to the Golden State Killer’s capture, the experience gave Elizabeth the idea for a novel. “The main character, Madison Kelly, a private investigator in San Diego, comes home to find a note nailed to her front door: Stop investigating me or I will hunt you down and kill you. But she hasn’t been investigating anyone; she has been taking some time off. So who thinks she is investigating them? She has to do exactly what the note is telling her not to do: investigate, in order to figure out who it is. She quickly realizes it’s because of some tweets she had made after listening to a podcast about two missing girls in the San Diego area. Someone is following her on Twitter, saw her tweets, and has tracked her down.”
Been there, done that
The are numerous similarities between Elizabeth and her main character. “Madison is 35 years old and her mother died of breast cancer. Prior to the start of the book, Madison had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, so that she wouldn’t die of breast cancer like her mother had. That all happened to me, too.”
Elizabeth also said that her experience as a private investigator helped her write with authority. “Several of the surveillance stories in the book actually happened. When the main character, Madison Kelly, does something like pretend to be someone else in order to get information, I have actually done that. And then there was the time a guy tried to steal my car while I was hiding in the backseat doing surveillance! That story is told in the book. It was pretty crazy.”a Rafflecopter giveaway