ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN DE MODE OCTOBER 2023 VOL VI. ISSUE XXXV | LITERATURE
Article Published on: 06th NOV 2023 | www.demodemagazine.com
"BURIED SECRETS" - BY AUTHOR S.F. BAUMGARTNER
Dylan Roche, a 25-year-old management trainee, is stunned when an attorney pays him an unexpected visit. Until this moment, he's lived comfortably in blissful ignorance of his family background. The attorney's invitation to meet his affluent maternal grandmother leaves him both astonished and skeptical. The news rattles him to his core; he can't help but wish his deceased mother were around to offer her wisdom and guidance.
Filled with a sense of foreboding but driven by curiosity, Dylan embarks on a journey to delve into his family's complicated history. He wants to know more about this wealthy grandmother and, by extension, gain insight into his mother's life and choices. As he investigates, he can't shake the feeling that something isn't right. It’s as if he's being watched, stalked by a malevolent presence at every corner.
Adding to his anxieties is the figure of a sinister individual who seems to shadow his every move. This mysterious person is more than just unsettling; he seems dangerous. Dylan starts to fear that his mother's trust in him was misplaced and that he is woefully ill-equipped to navigate the treacherous waters he finds himself in. The lurking danger amplifies his sense of urgency to discover what secrets his mother may have kept hidden, especially now that it could be a matter of life and death.
As Dylan digs deeper, the challenges grow exponentially. He begins to question who he can really trust and whether he's in over his head. Despite these fears, he remains committed to unearthing whatever it is his mother concealed from him. Yet with every clue he uncovers, the malevolent figure closes in, putting him at greater risk. Dylan must summon courage he never knew he had, in a desperate race against time and an unhinged adversary.
Will he be able to uncover the secret his mother took pains to hide? And more crucially, will he escape the relentless pursuit of a madman who seems hell-bent on his destruction? The stakes have never been higher for Dylan Roche, as he grapples with questions of family, heritage, and personal survival.
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JOURNEY OF THE AUTHOR S.F. BAUMGARTNER
After graduating from high school, S.F. Baumgartner took her first steps into the world of writing. While in college, she contributed to various student publications and even had two of her poems included in an anthology. However, upon finishing college, the demands of adult life took over. She became an accountant to make ends meet. During a difficult phase marked by struggles with infertility and miscarriages, she channeled her emotions into completing an extensive novel in a matter of two to three months. Back then, the traditional publishing route was the only option available, so she followed the path. She even secured an agent but had to put her literary dreams on hold due to a cross-country move.
Life brought a transformative change when she became a mother. Over the span of nine years, she transitioned from being childless to raising four children. During this period, her love for reading remained intact, but writing was relegated to the backseat. A few years ago, the urge to write resurfaced, especially after she became a stay-at-home mom. With the advent of the Internet and the boom in self-publishing, she decided it was time to rekindle her passion. Determined to improve her craft, she took online writing courses and wrote a novella. At one point, the novella climbed the ranks to become an Amazon category bestseller. She later withdrew it for revisions and published Buried Secrets in June 2023, along with Living Secrets, the first book in the Mirror Estate series, in September 2023.
About living secrets - book 1 of the Mirror Estate Series
Lily Tso is bored and unfulfilled. Orphaned at birth, the twenty-two-year-old Hotel Guest Service Officer is overwhelmed to discover her parents are alive. But the young woman fears she’s woefully unprepared for a treacherous operation to save America and to meet her parents.
About the Mirror Estate Series
The Mirror Estate series is a loosely connected Christian thriller, weaving an intriguing overarching plot that revolves around a notorious criminal mastermind.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE AUTHOR - www.sfbaumgartner.com
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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW OF AUTHOR S.F. BAUMGARTNER WITH DE MODE
Q: Your Mirror Estate Series begins with the psychological thriller prequel, "Buried Secrets." What inspired you to delve into the psychological thriller genre?
A. I'm a huge fan of mysteries, suspense, and thrillers, both in books and on screen—think crime TV shows and mystery movies. It feels like a natural progression for me to channel this passion into writing psychological thrillers.
Q: "Buried Secrets" introduces us to Dylan Roche, a management trainee facing a dangerous situation. Can you share more about his character and the challenges he encounters in the book?
A. Dylan Roche, raised in poverty and mourning his recently deceased mom, finds out he has a wealthy grandmother. Driven by both financial concerns and curiosity, he decides to meet her. Upon arriving at the family estate, he feels like he's being watched, heightening his urge to uncover the secrets his parents left behind.
Q: Family secrets and a sense of foreboding play a significant role in the story. How did you approach building the suspense and tension in the narrative?
A. I often envision the novel as a movie or TV series, aiming to keep viewers—or in this case, readers—hooked for the next episode. I study how TV shows cut from one scene to another to build tension and suspense, incorporating similar tactics into my writing.
Q: The book's antagonist is described as a "sinister maniac." What can readers expect from this formidable character, and what challenges does he pose for Dylan?
A. The "sinister maniac" haunting Dylan is actually his long-lost aunt. Abducted shortly after birth, she was raised by a delusional criminal mastermind and groomed to take over the empire. Her agenda? To drive Dylan away, especially after he uncovers a secret his mother buried on the estate.
Q: In "Buried Secrets," Dylan embarks on a journey to uncover his family's history. How does this exploration tie into the overarching themes of the Mirror Estate Series?
A. Dylan's journey into his family history launches the Mirror Estate Series. The overarching theme focuses on his aunt's complex relationship with him and her own mother, Dylan's grandmother. Each instalment draws us nearer to understanding how these family ties will ultimately unravel. The pressing question looms: Will they reconcile, or will they become archenemies?
Q: Moving on to "Living Secrets," the first book in the series, we meet Lily Tso. Can you provide some insights into her character and the central conflict she faces?
A. Lily Tso is a typical Hong Kong girl who's always suspected her father is a foreigner. She's lived believing her parents were dead, but is thrown a curveball: both parents are alive, and she must deliver an antidote to her dad in the U.S. Her urgent conflict is racing against time to get the antidote to him.
Q: The book introduces the idea of a biological attack, a timely and gripping plot element. What research or inspiration led you to this particular storyline?
A. The seed for this book was planted in late 2019, around the time when whispers of COVID-19 started circulating. The looming threat of a pandemic provided the spark I needed to delve into a story centered on a biological attack.
Q: Faith and suspense are key elements of your writing. How do you weave Christian themes and beliefs into the suspense thriller genre?
A. My writing incorporates Christian themes such as reconciliation and forgiveness, as well as Christian characters. When faced with peril, these characters turn to prayer and seek divine guidance and deliverance, providing a spiritual layer to the narrative.
Q: Beyond writing, you enjoy spending time with your cats and watching crime TV shows. Have any of these hobbies or interests found their way into your writing?
A. I'm looking forward to incorporating animals into a future installment of my series, although I'm still brainstorming the perfect way to introduce them into the storyline. Their addition will bring a new, intriguing layer to the plot.
Q: With "Living Secrets" being the first book in the series, can you give readers a glimpse of what they can expect in future installments of the Mirror Estate Series?
A. Book 2 is currently with the editor, and readers can expect the return of most familiar faces, along with some intriguing new characters. This installment will dive into the high-stakes pursuit of an international criminal. As for future books, they'll continue to center around our beloved core characters.
Q: What advice would you offer to aspiring authors who are interested in writing suspenseful and thrilling novels?
A. I'm always learning and evolving in my craft, but I've found my groove in writing. I regularly immerse myself in mysteries and crime shows, drawing inspiration from their intricate storytelling. Imagining my scenes as if they're playing out on the big screen helps me pinpoint the perfect moments to cut away, allowing me to masterfully ratchet up the suspense in my novels. This creative process keeps me passionate about my work and eager to captivate my readers.
Q: Are there any other projects or genres you'd like to explore in your future writing endeavours?
A. My focus will remain on writing Christian suspense thrillers, but I may explore the genre of Women's Fiction in the future. While my primary focus remains on writing Christian suspense thrillers, I am open to the possibility of exploring the genre of Women's Fiction in the future to diversify my literary repertoire.