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In the Spotlight [7]: author Interview – Dawn Kopman Whidden (includes an excerpt from “Keeping Hope Alive”)

DawnPlease meet award-winning author of A Child is Torn: Innocence Lost, Faceless: “A Mystery” and Stolen

Dawn, thanks for agreeing to the interview!

D: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Was it before or after a moving to your tranquil farm in Bell?

DK: I suppose the answer to that would be 3rd grade! When I was about 8 years old we were learning about pilgrims in school and were asked to write a story about that era. We had just learned about the way they punished the thieves and other criminals by putting them in a wooden stock. (A contraption where the person’s head and hands were suspended from holes in a piece of wood) I decided to turn it into a fable sort of story… Where the Giraffe Got its Neck. And so it began. My teacher loved it and read it aloud to the class. I suppose you can imagine what happened when the poor giraffe found itself stuck in the stock. It pulled and pulled trying to escape, thereby stretching out its neck.

D: What author/books inspired you?

I have always loved a good mystery, but my first favorite author was Beverly Cleary. I loved the old Henry Huggins books. I couldn’t wait until the next book came out.

D: Why did you choose to write crime and mystery?

DK: I don’t think I chose it, I believe it chose me. My first novel A CHILD IS TORN, was the result of a nightmare I had. I woke up at 3 in the morning in a cold sweat. I immediately thought I need to write this down or I will forget it. I had said that so many times before, but never did and now at age 59 I was finally following my instincts. I started writing at 3 A.M and wrote everyday for 3 months.

D: Most of your books involved children. Many people find this kind of premises disturbing. Can you tell us what inspired them?

DK: I love to watch and listen to children. I am also fascinated with the human psyche. It blows my mind how some children can overcome such horrific and traumatic life experiences and survive and prosper while others can become so demented as adults as a result of less trauma in their live. For instance; what happened to make Jeffrey Dahmner or Adolf Hitler such monsters? On the other side of the coin we have such amazing success stories such as Elizabeth Smart or Jaycee Dugard who have survived incredible circumstances to only prosper as adults.

D: How was your journey to get published? What would you do different if you could do it all over again?

DK: I think I wouldn’t change a thing. I think everything we do in life is for a reason. You have to make mistakes to grow and challenge yourself.

D: Can you tell us about your readers favorite awards?

DK: What an incredible high. I feel by winning such a prestigious reward and being recognized by my peers is more than I could have wished for.

D: Where do you get your information or ideas for your books, especially around police work and crime investigation?

I often get my ideas just pop into my head, although some do come from real life stories. It’s true that TRUTH is stranger than fiction.

D: What are the most valuable lessons learned from your reviewers? I supposed my biggest lesson is don’t take the bad reviews to heart, but learn from them. I hope I never forget that.

D: What advice would you give to aspiring authors writing crime and mystery?
DK: Always keep a pen and paper handy. Never say never. Pay attention to the people you surround yourself with. They are characters in the making.

D:What are you working on now? Can you give us a sneak peek?
DK: I started a new novel quite a while ago, but I am having a bit of trouble being motivated to finish.. but here is a sneak peek..
Hopefully I will find the inspiration to finish it.

Keeping Hope Alive, by DAWN KOPMAN WHIDDEN

Prologue

Tick tock, tick tock

The sound of the black second hand moving in a jerky fashion on the white- faced clock on the wall in front of her. The glass was gone and could have been the reason each tick and tock felt like an explosion in her ears breaking the silence in the damp room.
The rope around her wrists tore into her skin as she struggled to loosen the binds that held her arms to the bed. Beads of sweat ran down her forehead traveling over the slight bump of her otherwise perfect nose. The sweat mixed with a solo tear and eventually came to land on the corner of her mouth where she stretched out her tongue in a desperate attempt to try and absorb some of the moisture.

Her throat was so dry. She was parched and craving fluid; and her lips were cracking from the lack of liquid. The petite dark haired female was used to drinking eight ounces of water every hour and now she couldn’t imagine how long it had been since she had her last sip of bottled water.

She had always been such a snob about what brand of water she drank. But now she would dunk her face in a toilet like an animal if that were an option.

“Help, please help me!” She screamed, but it came out as a whisper. She had no voice left. She could barely hear her own cries now. It was all coming back to her slowly now. It was as if a fog was being lifted while driving down a country road and the sun was breaking through.

She must have fallen asleep after he left. She tried to figure out how many hours had passed by, how long she had been unconscious, but she didn’t have a clue. She didn’t remember if she noticed the clock earlier but now the noise was deafening. She focused in on the clock’s face. The little hand was on the five and the big one on the two. It was ten minutes after five. She felt something irritate the outside of her neck and realized a thick hemp rope was wrapped around her throat and that was tied to something above and behind her. She barely managed to turn her head, but she made an effort to take in her surroundings making use of her peripheral vision. She was frustrated when she realized there was no way to tell if it was ten past five in the morning or five in the evening or how many hours had passed. The room was bare except for the bed and the filthy thin mattress she was laying on. Besides the clock on the wall making the damn noise, the room was barren. A dark shade covered a small window to the left of her and she thought she saw a ray of light peek out from one of the corners. But as soon as she saw it, it disappeared as if it never existed. She closed her eyes and tried to build up some saliva so she could swallow without causing any more pain to her already raw throat.

“Help me, God, please help me!” She cried out, once again making no noise. Had she lost

her hearing?
Her head fell back on the mattress giving her some relief from the irritation of the thick twisted rope. She felt a chill and she shivered as she came to the realization she was naked; and then the damn burst. The tears that were welling up in her eyes broke loose and she began to sob. The tears were salty but she didn’t care. She grabbed each one she could catch as if they were diamonds and savored them as they entered her mouth.

A few seconds later she heard the footsteps, and she knew it was over. She wasn’t naïve. She had seen his face and she knew who he was. She knew he would never let her go and knew she would never get out of this cold and ugly room alive. The last thing she heard herself utter was just one word. It was a call for someone she would never see again. The last thing the girl was able to say before she succumbed to her captor was “Mommy”.

Find Dawn on her websitefacebook, and twitter

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