What We (Really) Found

By Kris Bock

Many writers are inspired by real events or people in their lives. This makes difficult situations a form of research. “This stinks, but maybe I can use it in a book!” I write romantic suspense for adults as Kris Bock and middle grade novels (for ages 9 to 12) as Chris Eboch. In most of these books, the connection to real life experiences isn’t obvious.

But one of my adult titles, What We Found, was inspired by a true case of murder.what-we-found

Two friends and I were exploring the mountains, looking for some suitable gravel to try gold panning (because, why not?). We found a likely spot and were about to take a sample when the guys smelled something horrible. A glance in the right direction showed them a dead body hidden just out of sight of the path.

The next hour passed in a surreal blur. None of us had a phone on us. We got back to our phones and then had to find a place with reception. We called 911, waited for the police, and led them to the body. Later that night we were interviewed by detectives. By the following day, they had identified the body as a woman who had been missing. Seeing her picture on TV and learning about her family made the situation real in a new way. We wanted justice for someone we’d never met. Fortunately, they already had a suspect, but it took nearly a year to resolve the case.

It’s All Research

As a writer, I knew I was getting rare first-hand experience into something powerful. I took pages of notes during that first week, even though I didn’t know how or when I might use them. I was fortunate to be with two men who talked openly about their experiences: the nightmares, the guilt over violence against women, the anxiety that came from now wondering what you might see in the bushes.

Three things struck me most strongly. First, we all felt deeply invested in the case, even though we’d never met the woman in life and didn’t know anyone else involved. We followed the news stories, and when the murderer was finally sentenced … well, I wouldn’t say we celebrated; more like we relaxed.

mad-monkSecond, it affected every aspect of our lives for weeks. Even though the likelihood of finding another body, or even witnessing a different crime, was extremely slim, we were on high alert at all times. It was a struggle to put it behind us while still honoring the memory of the victim and holding on to what we had learned.

And finally, we heard from someone in law enforcement that often people don’t report crime scenes like these. How could someone walk away from that? I started thinking about all the reasons someone might want to cover up their discovery, even if they had nothing to do with the crime. And that inspired What We Found.

Turning Truth into Fiction

Several years passed before I felt distant enough from the experience to fictionalize it, but I still had all those notes and memories to draw on. Some elements of What We Found, mainly the emotional ones, are taken directly from that experience. Most character and plot elements are completely fictional.

This isn’t an experience I would wish on anyone, but we’re glad we helped bring a crime to light and a murderer to justice. And it led to what I consider my most powerful and personal novel to date. After all, one benefit to being a writer is that the worst experiences are still valuable as research.

That’s the truth behind What We Found.

What We Found is currently free on Amazon,

What We Found

When Audra goes back to her small hometown after college, she just wants to fit in, work hard, and protect her 12-year-old brother from their overbearing mother. Finding a dead body in the woods changes everything. Her former crush, Jay, insists they don’t report the body. But the dead woman was murdered, and someone starts targeting Audra. She has to stand up for herself in order to stand up for the murder victim. It’s a risk, and so is reaching out to the mysterious young man who works with deadly birds of prey. But with danger all around, some risks are worth taking. This title stands alone and is not part of a series.

“Another action-packed suspense novel by Kris Bock, perhaps her best to-date. The author weaves an intriguing tale with appealing characters. Watching Audra, the main character, evolve into an emotionally-mature and independent young woman is gratifying.” Reader Ellen Rippel

This title stands alone and is not part of a series.kris-bock

Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. In The Skeleton Canyon Treasure, sparks fly when reader favorites Camie and Tiger help a mysterious man track down his missing uncle. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town.

Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page. Sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more.

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12 thoughts on “What We (Really) Found

  1. Wonderful proof, life brings many stories to writers. I can imagine the emotional aspect was great actually seeing and being apart of this scene. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, quite a story, Kris! I’ve used personal experiences in a couple of my books. Somehow, being “up close and personal” with events can really propel a story and make it powerful. Well done, and please come back anytime! 🙂
    –Michael

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  3. I liked the way you used your notes from the time of the discovery and the weeks afterward to use in describing the emotions that went with the fiction you eventually wrote Kris. This approach keeps the impact of the drama fresh and powerful. Your note taking really paid off in your book. I use this approach in journals I keep. What a gory discovery and it is so interesting how it got people thinking about other social issues as it stripped away the distance people often feel from tough problems that don’t usually affect them directly. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. As an author we want to make things as real as possible and I too often include real life situations in our writing but this kind of goes above and beyond. How long did it take you to get over seeing the body and going through that whole process? I know you said it took a couple years until you wrote the book but… Or do you still think about it? It surprises me that people wouldn’t report it. I can’t imagine what you went through and although it gave you some great information for a book, next time I’d just say use your imagination. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for pulling aside the curtain to show us “what really happened.” The best compliment a writer can get (I believe) is when someone says, “Did this really happen? It all seems so real!” Being able to summon the emotions you went through for readers takes skill and courage. I’m not usually one for romantic suspense, but this book sounds too tempting!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for all the comments. This isn’t personal research I would have chosen, but as noted, I was glad we were able to bring the family some closure. The experience affected us dramatically for a few weeks, and to a lesser extent for months (being very wary about anything odd we saw during hiking, for example). I don’t think about it often now; it seems distant and almost unreal. I think it was harder for my two friends who actually saw and smelled the body, as they had a more visceral experience. I was standing farther away and they warned me not to come closer, so I missed that part of it.

    Thanks for having me on the blog!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Kris, I forgot to thank you for the generous FREE offer of WHAT WE FOUND at Amazon. I’ve already downloaded my copy. Your “Treasure” series looks very interesting also. Looks like your little corner of the Southwest is beautiful, and full of “The Great Outdoors” opportunities to enjoy! 🙂
    –Michael

    Liked by 1 person

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