I’m happy to welcome Lori Rader-Day back to the blog. We first met when she moderated a panel we were both on of debut authors at Left Coast Crime in 2014 — I got the date right this time, Lori. We’ve both been writing away since and I love Lori’s books — they are always suspenseful and surprising. Her latest book The Lucky One came out in February. And she is rocking it as the current national president of Sisters in Crime.
Here’s a bit about the book: Most people who go missing are never found. But Alice was the lucky one…
As a child, Alice was stolen from her backyard in a tiny Indiana community, but against the odds, her policeman father tracked her down within twenty-four hours and rescued her from harm. In the aftermath of the crime, her family decided to move to Chicago and close the door on that horrible day.
Yet Alice hasn’t forgotten. She devotes her spare time volunteering for a website called The Doe Pages scrolling through pages upon pages of unidentified people, searching for clues that could help reunite families with their missing loved ones. When a face appears on Alice’s screen that she recognizes, she’s stunned to realize it’s the same man who kidnapped her decades ago. The post is deleted as quickly as it appeared, leaving Alice with more questions than answers.
Embarking on a search for the truth, she enlists the help of friends from The Doe Pages to connect the dots and find her kidnapper before he hurts someone else. Then Alice crosses paths with Merrily Cruz, another woman who’s been hunting for answers of her own. Together, they begin to unravel a dark, painful web of lies that will change what they thought they knew—and could cost them everything.
Twisting and compulsively readable, The Lucky One explores the lies we tell ourselves to feel safe.
Thanks for joining us today, Lori!
Happy 7th birthday to the Wicked Cozies blog and authors!
Seven is supposed to be a lucky number—possibly having to do with its status as a prime number? Or with a sports thing? Seven is a religious touchstone in several cultures—seven deadly sins, seven virtues (you hardly ever hear about those), and on the seventh day, “God rested.” Number of days in the week, number of colors in the rainbow, number of Great Wonders of the world, the number given to super-spy James Bond. Seven is either lucky, or we just think it is.
With my latest novel being titled The Lucky One, I’ve had a little time to think about what it means to be lucky, and not.
Do I believe in luck? Not in the rabbit’s foot school. I believe rabbits should keep their feet. My lucky number is 11, but I haven’t assigned any magical powers to it. I just like it.
But yes, I absolutely believe in good fortune, in being in the right place at the right time, in taking chances and snapping up opportunities when they rain down—in trying new things and working hard toward goals so that I might meet them some “lucky” day. Here’s the kind of luck I believe in, best represented by this quote I found (luckily!) this week from an Entertainment Weekly interview with comedian and actor Chris Rock:
“Naive people will tell you ‘There’s always tomorrow and you’ll always get another chance.’ The smart people will tell you ‘You probably get three chances at anything in life and you’ll probably be busy for the first two…that third one you better be f*#!ing ready.'”
But we write or read crime fiction, in which characters often have the worst possible luck.
In the kinds of stories I like to write, the fictional crime looks an awful lot like real crime. The Lucky One, in fact, is based in part on a real crime that happened to my neighbor, and in part on a moment that had really happened to me as I scoured for story ideas online. (A full essay about the convergence of those two stories is in the back of the published book, if you want to take a look.) The Lucky One is about a group of online amateur sleuths, based on the real-life online amateur sleuths of The Doe Network. When I went to do some research, trying to understand what information an amateur can get about cold case missing persons, I used the real-life crime of a girl gone missing from my childhood neighborhood. That’s a lot of actual crime undergirding a fictional story. Which is fine, right?
Except that when I write a story that has real-world connections, I start wonder about my right to do so. Am I the right person to tell this story? Can I tell it with the right gravitas, so that if someone who has experienced this crime themselves or within their family, they won’t feel violated all over again? For example, for The Day I Died, my third novel, I wrote about domestic violence, something I had never experienced. But I had at least one friend who had survived a violent marriage, and someone I had known in high school had been killed in college (the college where I was also a student) by an ex-boyfriend. The story I was writing wasn’t about either of those women, but as I worked on that book, I wondered if I could write a story that didn’t somehow blame the victim for not being lucky enough to survive. My character survived her violent relationship but not because she possessed more virtue than someone who hadn’t, not because she was smarter or did things “right.” The woman from my high school did everything right, too.
I don’t believe in that four-leaf clover sort of luck, but what I really don’t believe in is assigning virtue for those who seem to possess it.
Am I lucky? Oh, yeah. Every word I write comes from a place of privilege. I’ve been given a lot of breaks. That’s the thing I try to remember, that I’ve had a lot of hands up. That’s what luck really looks like, which means I can give it, too.
So happy 7th anniversary to the Wicked Cozies. If my luck holds, and yours, have me back for your 11th anniversary.
Readers: What story based on real life do you recommend? Writers, I would love to hear about one of your lucky breaks.
Bio: Lori Rader-Day is the Edgar Award-nominated and Anthony Award- and Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author of Under a Dark Sky, The Day I Died, Little Pretty Things, and The Black Hour. She co-chairs the mystery conference Murder and Mayhem in Chicago and serves as the national president of Sisters in Crime. Her new book is The Lucky One, set in a true-crime amateur online sleuth community.