As I interviewed more and more massage therapists, the prototype for a character grew in my mind. I was also doing a lot of readers advisory as a librarian, and following trends in popular genres. I was intrigued that patrons seemed to gravitate to mystery stories where the characters were just about anything other than a detective or a police officer. I saw caterers, chefs, lawyers, and just about every profession you can think of represented in the popular mystery series on our library shelves. Which got me thinking--is there a mystery series involving a massage therapist?
I couldn't find one, so I set out to right it. I initially intended to write a cozy mystery. My imagination tends toward violence, however, so that seemed unwise. While I was in search of a plot, news broke about Philip Markoff, the so-called Craigslist Killer. He was, among other things, murdering prostitutes who advertised themselves as massage therapists online.
The associations between massage and prostitution is old. It's one of the banes of the licensed massage therapist (LMT), and I remember several of the people I'd interviewed talking about how they had to educate their own families about misconceptions. Right away I knew I had the basis of my plot: a serial killer would be striking at online prostitutes who shielded their activities under the guise of massage therapy. The twist would be that one of the prostitutes really had been a massage therapist who'd fallen on hard times and made poor decisions. Her murder would bring in my main character, a dedicated LMT and instructor determined to bring her former student's murderer to justice.
The novel was composed pretty fast. I did 80,000 words in three weeks, a real marathon session for me considering it usually takes me 3-5 months to compose the first draft of a novel. The rapid progress was due in part, I think, to outlining the story in advance, which is something I hardly ever do, for whatever reason. Trigger Point, a massage modality, just seemed like a perfect title for a mystery/suspense novel, and it plays an important part in the story as well. I sort of envisioned an entire series based on massage terms--Trigger Point, Release Point, Pressure Point, Reflex Point.
I've not been able to return to the series so far, but hopefully one day I will. Trigger Point is the most commercial novel I've written, and so its early rejections were more frustrating than usual. One publisher said, "The prologue moves along beautifully and is very tense. But the story really bogs down in the first chapter." Now, in manuscript form the prologue was five pages long, and the first chapter was three pages long. I'm not sure how a story could bog down in that amount of time, but the publisher acted like I'd just cut and pasted something from the middle of Ulysses to start chapter one.