The Salt Maiden: a story blossoms in the desert

Long before the ancient Aztecs and Egyptians ever dreamed of making mummies, nature had perfected her technique. First, take a corpse — a human’s, for example — and protect it from the ravages of predators and weather. Then find a quick way to strip the body’s tissues of all water content.

Dry winds do a fine job, providing the unfortunate’s final resting place is cold enough to discourage hungry insects. But even in a hot locale — say the arid country of West Texas — certain natural compounds serve the purpose quite as well.

One of the most effective substances is common salt, including the white crystals surrounding a body in a cavern so far beneath the desert’s surface, the coyotes and the turkey vultures never sense its presence. And neither do the searchers, whether they use horses, SUVs, or small planes in their hunt for one missing woman amid the hundreds of square miles where rattlesnakes outnumber humans and scorpions have outlasted every species since the dinosaurs.

Could she speak, our modern mummy might beg the searchers to look longer and look deeper. But of course, she’s been beyond that for some time.

That's the tantalizing opening of The Salt Maiden, Colleen's sixth romantic thriller, a Romantic Times BOOKreviews Top Pick and 2007 Reviewers Choice nominee for Best Romantic Suspense. This week, Colleen hits the Girlfriend Cyber Circuit to talk about the book that began with a trip to the middle of nowhere.

"Some novels begin with a character," says Colleen, "others start with a what-if question or a situation, but The Salt Maiden was inspired by a place I visited a few years back, a sunburned, sand-scoured desert community in the dead center of the least populated county in the U.S. With water too briny for human consumption and land too to support any but the hardiest of desert plants, it’s an eerily daunting landscape, one that made me wonder, What on earth would bring a person out here? Apparently my subconscious took it as a challenge, and came up with a Houston veterinarian, Dana Vanover, in search of her troubled missing sister, the birth mother of a child in desperate need of a bone-marrow transplant. In spite of her ambivalence about her sister, Dana braves heat, rattlesnakes, and hostile locals — as well as her attraction to the handsome sheriff who wants her gone."

More about that tomorrow. Meanwhile, how 'bout this buzz?

"Poetic use of language, intricate plotting and a wealth of fascinating details make Thompson's latest novel a masterful work of suspense. Readers will come for the action and stay for the three-dimensional characters and well-crafted narrative. This is a fabulous read!" ~ Romantic Times

"Fans of Tess Gerritsen, Tami Hoag, and Sandra Brown will adore this tale. Phenomenal!" ~ Detra Fitch, Huntress Book Reviews

"A great book filled with action of all kinds - from steamy love scenes to terror ridden suspense...The book touches on the complexities of mother-daughter and sibling relationships. If you want to spend some wonderful time being entertained, you need to invest the time and money in reading this book." ~ Dana Henderson, Romance Junkies

"Wait until you read the ending of this marvelous suspense thriller. You'll never guess and it will keep you on the edge of your seat. I have never missed a Colleen Thompson thriller and never will. [The Salt Maiden] is wrought with intensity, mystery, intrigue, passion and a roller coaster ride until the last page is turned. Take the ride; you'll be glad you did." ~ Suzanne Tucker, Fresh Fiction

"Colleen Thompson is an author waiting to 'happen'. Oh, she has been out there, is well respected as a growing talent. She has a solid backlist of amazing tales; only, she just has that presence of an author ready to have that break out novel. The Salt Maiden is that book. Her skill and flow of the prose marks her as a master wordsmith. She weaves an intricate plot into this eerie, sinister tale that kept me spellbound. This simply is Colleen Thompson at her very best." ~ Deborah MacGillivray, The Best Reviews

"...riveting suspense with an emotionally satisfying romance. The finely detailed characterization combines with an eerie exquisitely written landscape to make this novel a reading and re-reading pleasure...Colleen Thompson creates a romance that is reflective in tone through her portrait of the wasteland, adding a fresh intriguing vision to the genre." ~ Merrimon Book Reviews

Rock on, Colleen!


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