Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Pet peeves, news headlines, travel, dreams, and memories are all sources of ideas for writers. The list of ways to rev up an author's imagination is endless.

Do the novels you read rev up your imagination? Do they encourage you to  travel to a cited location, learn more about a mentioned topic, read other novels by the author, or write a novel yourself? If so, great. Maybe, this blog will rev up your imagination to try something new. 

The initial ideas for I Saw You in Beirut, my latest international thriller, came from two main sources: my pet peeve that there are so few woman protagonists in thrillers and my love of exotic locations.

First, my pet peeve. Most thrillers feature men. The women who populate thrillers are generally young action heroines, like Lara Croft. Census data indicate the fastest growing population groups in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010 were those over forty-five years of age. Women outnumber men after forty. My conclusion is: women over forty are a big reading market, and they read more than romances.

Accordingly, the heroine in my thrillers is Sara Almquist, a globetrotting epidemiologist (a professional medical busybody) who has passed her fortieth birthday. I like to imagine her being played on film by Helen Mirren, Sigourney Weaver, Salma Hayek, or Marcia Gaye Hardin. And yes, there is a bit of romance in this thriller.

Next, my love of exotic locations. In the 1990s, I consulted on biological (medical and agricultural) issues at the United Arab Emirates University in El Ain and the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. I got chills as I watched ships lining up to pass through the Strait of Hormuz. I smiled as I toured the laboratory and swimming pools, which one sheik in the Emirates built to help keep his racing camels in optimum form.

I was also awed by the beauty and history of the region. Did you know Lebanon has Phoenician tombs that are contemporary with the Egyptian pyramids? Several major medical discoveries were made in Iran and Iraq in the 1960s. I knew several of the researchers involved in the Shiraz experiment, which identified zinc deficiency in villagers in Iran.

Thus, I included lots of tidbits on science, geography, and history of the Middle East in I Saw You in Beirut. Why not arm chair travel there with Sara Almquist? See if the story revs up your desire to travel and explore new options.

Blurb: In I Saw You in Beirut, a mysterious source of leaks on the Iranian nuclear industry, known only as F, sends an email from Tabriz: Help. Contact Almquist. Intelligence sources determine the message refers to Sara Almquist, a globetrotting epidemiologist, and seek her help to extract F from Iran. As Sara tries to identify F by dredging up long-forgotten memories about her student days at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her work in Lebanon and the Emirates, groups ostensibly wanting to prevent F’s escape attack her repeatedly. 

I Saw You in Beirut (paperback and Kindle versions) is available at Amazon: and Barnes and Noble (Nook version):