When I pitched Smokescreen (which came out last year) to my agent, she said something I’d never considered: “The kidnapped soldier? Sean? Why not do a second book about him?” Hm. In my mind, he was a MacGuffin, driving the story forward without taking a part in it. I wrote a paragraph about him and included it in the proposal… and Love Inspired bought it.
As I got deeper into Smokescreen, Sean started to entrench himself in the story. He wasn’t only the friend Ashley and Ethan were trying to save from terrorists. He was her lifelong best friend, the man whose parents had been killed in the same car accident as hers. (Random fact? When it comes to mothers, I have somehow become the Walt Disney of suspense. Check out one of my books. Where in the world did the mothers go?)
Sean Turner wound up being one of my favorite characters to write. Compromised Identity is such a great title for his story, because it feeds into so much about him. Not only has he teamed up with Jessica to uncover who’s stealing the identities of soldiers, he’s dealing with questions of who he is in the wake of a traumatic experience that went beyond the average person’s worst nightmares. A strong soldier who has always been in control, he finds himself falling slowly into PTSD caused by what he endured while he was held captive. He’s no longer himself, can no longer trust the truths that have guided his life. He’s wounded and broken, battling an emotion he’s rarely felt before… fear. His personal identity has been compromised.
I pulled from my own life experiences to build Sean and, before him, Ashley. In Smokescreen, Ashley suffered from panic attacks. For ten years, fear controlled my life much like it controlled Ashley’s. I made plans and lived every moment around the fear of an attack until I was literally healed by my Jesus! When it came to Sean, I drew on the feelings of insecurity from that time, the questions about who I was when, suddenly, the me I knew was stripped away. It’s a scary, world-tilting feeling, and I wanted Sean to battle that only to come out on the other side the way I did… realizing that we’re really not in control, but we can trust the God who is.
Jodie Bailey writes novels about freedom and the heroes who fight for it. Her romantic suspense, Crossfire, won a 2015 RT Reviewers Choice Award and her contemporary romance, Quilted by Christmas won a 2014 Selah. She is convinced a camping trip to the beach with her family, a good cup of coffee, and a great book can cure all ills. Jodie lives in North Carolina with her husband, her daughter, and two dogs. Visit her at www.jodiebailey.com