July 22, 2020

Behind The Book

Darlene L. Turner

The Hidden Staircase, The Secret of the Old Clock, The Sign of the Twisted Candles—these were just some of my favorite Nancy Drew books. I couldn’t get enough of them growing up! My family often saw me with my nose stuck in one of Nancy’s many tales. When I was finished with those, I’d sneak my brother’s Hardy Boy books and devour them too. This is where my love of writing and of a good mystery/suspense began. 

Creating stories in the romantic suspense genre was a natural journey for me. Plus, I had always wanted to be a policewoman after watching Charlie’s Angels (they even kicked butt while wearing high heels…what could be better than that?!), Cagney and Lacey, Police woman, Murder She Wrote, etc. My love for all-things-mystery carried into my adult life. Who doesn’t love Sydney Bristow and Kate Beckett?

I enjoy creating strong female characters in a law enforcement role. Why shouldn’t the woman be the one solving the crime, right? So, when my agent suggested I write something for Love Inspired Suspense (an inspirational division of Harlequin), I started brainstorming ideas on what story I would like to write. Canadian law enforcement has always intrigued me and I wanted a female character who knew how to take care of herself, so the Canada Border Services Agency caught my attention. I googled popular items being smuggled across the 
various Canadian/U.S. borders and saw that there was a bust for the doda drug in one of our provinces. This sparked an idea of a modified, deadly form of it. I knew I had to partner Kaylin with a forceful police officer, but one with teddy bear qualities. Hudson Steeves fit that bill. I also gave them a past where they had worked on a case together that didn’t go well, so they both would be a bit apprehensive about teaming up again. Instant conflict. 

I had already done research on various Canadian police forces, so I added the border agency along with other aspects for my book to my list of investigations. This started shaping pieces of the storyline. Next, I started “interviewing” my characters by asking questions. This is my favorite part of the process. What’s their deepest regret? The fear they never want to divulge? Their likes and dislikes? I love to give my characters interesting qualities, past secrets, and of course they need a reason why they’re determined never to fall in love…again. In Border Breach, Hudson has to face his childhood fear of water to save Kaylin. These past elements build their backstory, which is woven into the story at the appropriate time.

After determining my characters pasts and what makes them who they are today, I come up with the basic plot. I’m a pantser, but I need to know where my story is headed. With the ideas formed, it was time to start Chapter 1 which must thrust the main character into the heat of conflict (commonly referred to as the “inciting incident”). As I continue on with the remaining chapters, I let my characters take me through the story. Yes, they sometimes lead me down a rabbit hole, but they always allow me to crawl out of it!

I’ve been asked where I get my ideas. Most of the time it’s a tidbit from television, news, or even a dream that sparks ideas for me. It’s fun to ask the “what if” question to each morsel of an idea. I’m also able to brainstorm with some amazing author friends who are always ready and willing to help grow a story.

The faith-element of my books is very important to me. I always try to incorporate everyday struggles and have my characters go through these because it’s reality, right? There are times we need to move forward and forgive, so we don’t become bitter. It makes us stronger.

My characters will doubt, get angry, and even throw their fist in the air at God, but in the end they will realize that He’s been with them through every step of their journey. In Border Breach, Kaylin struggles with forgiving her father for the hurt he’d caused, even though he says he’s not the same man he used to be. Can she move past the pain before it seeps into her bones and turns to bitterness? I won’t answer that…you’ll have to read the book!

After incorporating these aspects for Border Breach, I typed “the end” and begin the fun editing process (I’m using “fun” loosely here!) before sending it to my beta readers. This was when Deadly Bouquet (my original title) was born. I sent it to my agent and months later, I received that call. You know, the words every author dreams about hearing, “You’re going to be published.” Needless to say, I did the happy dance!

I still pinch myself when I think of it. My dream that had sparked from the first time I picked up a Nancy Drew book as a young girl was finally coming true. Border Breach launched in April, and even though it was at the onset of this pandemic, I’m feeling blessed. I’m a published author. God is good…all the time.

Darlene L. Turner is an award-winning author and lives with her husband, Jeff in Ontario, Canada. Her love of suspense began when she read her first Nancy Drew book. She’s turned that passion into her writing and believes readers will be captured by her plots, inspired by her strong characters, and moved by her inspirational message. You can connect with Darlene at where there’s suspense beyond borders

Darlene’s social media:
Instagram: darlenel.turner


  1. Darlene,

    I love learning these stories behind the book. Thank you for this insightful article. I too loved reading Nancy Drew books growing up--but have only published a few short stories while my books have been nonfiction. As writers each of us choose different paths.

    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

    1. Hi Terry!! It's so interesting to see how many people also loved Nancy Drew! Those books left a lasting impression. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Thanks for the great backstory. Keep Writing - you're a pro!

    1. Awww...thanks DiAnn! I appreciate all of your support and encouragement!! xo

  3. Darlene, Congratulations on your book! Nancy Drew led so many of us into writing mystery and suspense with a strong female lead.

    1. Hi Kay! Yes, Nancy seems to be a favorite with a lot of writers! I think many young people still enjoy her stories today. Timeless! Love it. Thanks for stopping by. Blessings