How my background infected my book
by Donna Galanti
Much of my former life is reflected in my paranormal suspense novel A Human Element. Good and bad.
Like Ben Fieldstone, an unlikely hero In A Human Element, I was also trained in traditional photography as a U.S. Naval Photographer. Like Ben I was also stationed in Pearl Harbor, in the building with no windows – Fleet Intelligence Center Pacific (FICPAC).
Here I am on Adopt-A-Sailor Day with local Honolulu children.
I was lucky to shoot photos of Tom Selleck driving on base in his red Ferrari shooting Magnum P.I.! It was the 1980s and this was one of the hottest t.v. shows at the time.
We were often warned at Pearl Harbor, as military and haoles, not to wander alone in to certain local areas. The Pali Lookout was one of them in the Koolau Mountains. This was a place that was known to be haunted with the spirits of Hawaians and no place for a haole from the mainland like myself. Wander up there, I was told, and your fate may include being tossed from the cliffs and never heard from again.
Here Ben gets into such trouble one night at the Pali Lookout:
Ben woke up again to something hard and gritty scratching his face and chest. He was bent over a boulder, face down. The bag on his head had disappeared and he adjusted his eyes. The lights of Honolulu blinked below in the far distance. The tropical wind blew across him. He shivered, although it was a warm night. The moon glowed three-quarters full overhead. He struggled to move, but his hands and feet were tied with rope. It cut into his skin and pulled at the stakes in the ground that held him bent over the rock. He was spread out vulnerable for whatever his tormentors would do to him.
"You awake, sailor boy?" Koko smiled at him and slapped his head. "I picked up my friend here, and we're gonna teach you a lesson real good. Right, Kami?"
Koko's friend, Kami, leaned into Ben's face and leered. Larger and darker than his partner, Kami's teeth gleamed bright against his skin.
"Oh yeah, real good. This is where we take the haole's that don't behave, right, Koko?"
"Damn straight. We make nice, friendly boys out of you."
The two Samoans laughed.
Ben turned his head to look at them. "My friends will be looking for me, you know. My base will be looking for me. I know where you are in town. You do anything to me and the Navy will find you."
"No one ain't ever gonna find you, brah." Kami chuckled. "After we done with you we gonna throw you off the cliff, right, Koko?"
Ben knew where he was now. The Pali Lookout. It hung over Honolulu on the Koolau Mountain Range. They must have parked and carried him down the old Pali road, overgrown and forgotten after the new Pali road had been built. It was hidden in the jungle off the beaten path. He remembered the so-called suicides up here. He knew now some might not have been suicides. He heard about one suicidal man who had survived jumping off the Pali lookout. The wind had been so strong it blew him back. It was like the hand of God picked him up and placed the man gently back down.
Like Laura Armstrong, the heroine in A Human Element, I also worked in corporate communications for a large healthcare company headquartered in North Jersey. Like Laura, I hated it.
It was my first career job out of college. I found myself one day leaving behind my family and country home in Upstate New York to live in a concrete jungle full of maniac drivers and fast-paced work. The year I came on board the company was being bought out. Our job in corporate communications was to launch the company’s first intranet and churn out the many memos to 18,000 employees nationwide. Most importantly, we were at the beck-and-call of the CEO. I was lucky. I escaped after a year to a more laid back job and a place in the country.
In this scene, Laura’s typical day echoes what mine was like:
Laura's fingers tapped across her keyboard in a race to finish. She had ten minutes to write the executive memo to all employees from the CEO about the company buyout. She sighed and stretched her neck, tired from working fifteen-hour days with the intensity of the buyout going on. As communications specialist for the corporate communications team, she was on call twenty-four hours during the negotiations and contract phase. Tensions throughout the company ran high. The whisperings around the company strained with fear and guessing which departments would have layoffs and who would be the first to go. Laura knew she would have a job until the end as someone needed to crank out the word to eighty-thousand employees across the country.
She didn't care. After four years of working for one of the nation's largest healthcare companies, she was burned out at twenty-six. She didn't see herself doing anything of importance and she had no desire to climb the corporate ladder. Every day she felt uncomfortable sitting in on conference calls spewing out corporate lingo and meeting deadlines under executive orders. She felt on stage and giving a terrible performance until it hit her–she wasn't meant to do this. She had enough money saved up between bonuses and raises. She could afford to take a pay cut and start over at another job.
As a writer I enjoy bringing my unique experiences to life through my writing and different characters. Do you? Or do you write about things you wish to experience?
About A HUMAN ELEMENT:
One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next.
Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite–her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a mad man, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test.
With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his and she has two choices–redeem him or kill him.
Reviewers are saying…
“A HUMAN ELEMENT is an elegant and haunting first novel. Unrelenting, devious but full of heart. Highly recommended.” –Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author of ASSASSIN’S CODE and DEAD OF NIGHT
“A HUMAN ELEMENT is a haunting look at what it means to be human. It’s a suspenseful ride through life and love…and death, with a killer so evil you can’t help but be afraid. An excellent read.” –Janice Gable Bashman, author of WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE, nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.
Donna Galanti is the author of the dark novel A Human Element (Echelon Press). She won first place for Words on the Wall Fiction at the 2011 Philadelphia Writer’s Conference. Donna has a B.A. in English and a background in marketing. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, The Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group and Pennwriters. She lives with her family in an old farmhouse in PA with lots of nooks, fireplaces, and stinkbugs. Visit her at: www.donnagalanti.com
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