A feature of my old website was a page I wrote to accompany each book release called “Behind the Book.” Close Encounters has been around long enough to have one of those pages. I’ll feature an excerpt and offer up a free download to one lucky winner tomorrow, but in the meantime, this was what tripped around my mind when I wrote the story.
New Orleans and the bayous of Louisiana have always fascinated me. From the murky, smarmy ambience and the spicy full-flavored foods, to that distinctive dialect filled with French and Southern inflections—everything is a definite turn-on, appealing to the underlying darkness in this writer’s twisted mind and soul!
So I was thinking, if aliens were coming to America, where better for an encounter to happen?
My hero needed a little darkness in his soul to match the landscape in my mind, so I went with what is familiar to me. I understand the military man and have lived in the desert of the Middle East, and with the war in Iraq so much in the news, a hero fresh from the horrors there worked in a beautiful and poignant way.
My damaged hero, Etienne, needed to lighten up and learn how to open his heart to caring again—and accept someone he cared about touching his body and heart.
So I gave Etienne to Mariska. Mariska is worldly in a galactical sort of way, but innocent when it comes to heart lessons and the darkness that can haunt a person who’s seen too much. She’s hell bent on accomplishing her mission and saving her planets, and her work is cut out for her trying to convince a man who thinks he’s already given enough to go along with her plans.
Painting the picture of where he came from to where he arrived was part of the joy of writing this story. It was a flight of whimsy—my grown-up ET.