Seems like a good time to talk about our first meeting and what I knew about her. It’s been a few years since then. 10 novels, a lot of short stories, a novella, her poetry book … she’s given us a lot. She’s been very open and sharing and still is.
When I met Ellie Conway I didn’t know what she looked like, I didn’t know her name.
I did know her chosen career. I knew she was FBI and she was a well-respected agent. Within half an hour of that meeting, I knew her deepest fear. How? I saw her having breakfast with her parents. (Yes, saw, because every single scene in the Byte Series runs through my mind as video.) During that breakfast, that family time, I learned a lot. I learned that Ellie was wary of her mother. I learned she loved her father and he was the only stable influence in her life while growing up.
What was Ellie’s biggest fear? What made her who she was? She was terrified she would become her mother. (Not like most daughters who don’t want to sound like their mothers.) This was an overriding factor in her life. Ellie did not want children, in case she turned into her mom. She believed having children was the trigger, that she and her brother caused her mother’s mental illness and could not be persuaded otherwise. Not even by Mac (whose mom, not only suffered from mental illness but was violent), not even once they were married, and Mac suggested they would have beautiful children. Ellie was adamant it would never happen. She could not/would not put her children through what she suffered at the hands of a mentally ill/often absent/often abusive mother.
Ellie was/is a strong independent person who loves her job, is a compassionate advocate for children of mentally ill parents, leads an elite team, investigates serial crime, and attempts a work/life balance. She’s well educated. She has friends, family, co-workers, and connections in some interesting places. People like her and are willing to help when she asks. She is a nice person. Outwardly a good person (like most of us, she has thoughts that are less than charitable at times). But she believed mental illness lurked around the corner.
As I got to know her I realized some of that fear was based in the way her mind pulls together little details from the environment. She’d always felt like she walked a narrow line between sanity and insanity. Like she conjured scenarios from thin air, or music, or TV, and didn’t want to say how she stumbled upon clues or information because it made her feel and sound insane.
What is still fascinating for me, writing stories from Ellie’s POV, is how her ability to see what others cannot have evolved. She’s slowly embraced her unusual ways of piecing information together and mostly shares it with her team. The team has grown used to how she works.
But inside, she cannot get away from the feeling that one day she’ll cross that line and her mind will snap.
And you know what?
I don’t know if it will or it won’t. I know she’s come close to the edge a few times and that she has PTSD but will she lose it completely?
Meanwhile: Take a look at how her thinking changed. Until Nov 18th you can get The Byte Series Volume One for half-price! ($3.00, unbelievable good value!)