By: Alison Stone
Congratulations to "Maureen C", the winner in Alison's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!
How many of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s remember the classic plot device of the dead phone line?The freaked out heroine staring in disbelief at the useless twenty-pound receiver in her hand? And I often wondered, does clicking the “hook thingy” actually ever restore the dial tone? (Just wondering.)
One of the first scary movies I saw was the original Halloween movie with Jamie Lee Curtis. I watched the movie on HBO a few years after it came out.Turns out, the family I babysat for had HBO. My family didn’t. The irony that I watched a horror movie about a stalker relentlessly pursuing a babysitter while I was babysitting was not lost on me. (Of course, I watched the movie after I put the little ones to bed and then remained in a constant state of fear until the parents arrived home.)
On Wikepedia, I found this plot synopsis:
“Feeling unsettled, Laurie puts the kids to bed and heads over to the Wallace house, only to find Annie's body with Judith Myers' missing headstone and Lynda and Bob dead nearby. Suddenly, Laurie is attacked by Michael and falls backwards down the staircase. Fleeing the house, she screams for help, but to no avail. Running back to the Doyle house, she realizes she lost the keys and the door is locked, as she sees Michael approaching in the distance. Laurie panics and screams for Tommy to wake up and open the door quickly. Luckily, Tommy opens the door in time and lets Laurie inside. Laurie instructs the children to hide and then realizes the phone line is dead and that Michael has gotten into the house through a window. As she sits down in horror next to the couch, Michael appears and tries to stab her, but she counterattacks his move, stabbing him in the side of his neck with a lingering knitting needle.”
What if Laurie had had a cell phone? First of all, Miss Curtis and her friend would have been texting each other all night. I’m sure Annie would have sent out a quick: OMG, dude with mask. So not cool. Oh no, he slashed BF. HELP! (Since I am an adult and not a teenager, I’m sure my text only remotely resembles that of a current teen.)Then Laurie could have called the police. The police would have arrived in time to save the day. End of story.
But having Laurie run back to the house, realize she forgot her keys, wake Tommy, discover the phone is dead…and eventually stab Michael Myers with a knitting needle was way more suspenseful.
In my earlier attempts at fiction, I found I had to adjust my scenes to account for the obvious use of cell phones. I remember having my heroine trapped in a basement and my critique partner asked, “Why not use her cell phone?” Oh yeah, I forget she had it on her. Bummer. There are ways to work around this, as long as a writer sets it up beforehand.
For example, a character can be out of cell phone range. (I imagine as we move swiftly into the future, this will get harder and harder to do.) Or a writer can set it up so the heroine left her cell phone behind. Wow, today of all days when the creepy guy with a mask is after me! Bummer!
When I read older books from say, the 80s and 90s, it’s obvious how different things were before cell phones. Consider how many times the hero had to search for a pay phone. Or perhaps the heroine was traveling a dark stretch of road alone, at night, with someone following her. The scene would be written differently depending on if she was completely isolated or if she had an opportunity to call someone for help.
In my latest release, Plain Pursuit, my heroine is staying at the home of an Amish family. I conveniently located the farm out of cell phone range. Only the neighbors have a phone in case of emergency. Without giving too much away, the cell phone can also play another interesting part in suspense novels: individuals can be tracked using a phone’s GPS.
The use of technology is shaping our world which in turn, shapes our fiction. Can you recall other ways the use of cell phones or other new technology has changed the suspense genre? I’d love to hear from you. One random person who comments will receive a digital copy of Plain Pursuit from either Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
BIO: Alison Stone left snowy Buffalo, New York and headed a thousand miles south to earn an industrial engineering degree at Georgia Tech in Hotlanta. Go Yellow Jackets! She loved the South, but true love brought her back North.
After the birth of her second child, Alison left Corporate America for full-time motherhood. She credits an advertisement for writing children's books for sparking her interest in writing. She never did complete a children's book, but she did have success writing articles for local publications before finding her true calling, writing romantic suspense.
Alison lives in Western New York with her husband of twenty years and their four children where the summers are absolutely gorgeous and the winters are perfect for curling up with a good book--or writing one.
Random Acts and Too Close to Home were released by Samhain Publishing in 2012. Plain Pursuit, a Harlequin Love inspired Suspense, is available now.
Besides writing, Alison keeps busy volunteering at her children's schools, driving her girls to dance, and watching her boys race motocross.
She’s always at the following locations:
BLURB for Plain Pursuit:
Danger in Amish Country
When her brother is killed in a small Amish town, Anna Quinn discovers she's an unwelcome outsider. But the FBI agent investigating the case is right at home—because Eli Miller was born and raised in Apple Creek's Plain community. Eli left his Amish faith behind long ago, but his heart is rooted in a local cold case he can't forget—a mystery with strange connections to Anna's loss. Desperate to uncover the truth, Anna and Eli are faced with stony silences and secrets…secrets that someone wants to keep buried in the past.
Copyright © 2013 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited
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