“You take one step out of that door without me and you are in serious trouble. Leave my side once and you are a dead woman.”
Christian Dalban is hired to protect Isabelle Mayer from the violent head of a mafia family who will stop at nothing to force her back into his bed. But Christian is determined that she won’t find out why he is the only man capable of succeeding where others have failed. If she knew the reason she would never trust him with her life nor would he blame her. But as their relationship develops into a passionate sexual encounter Christian realises that he is not the only one keeping a secret that could threaten both of their lives.
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Inspiration Behind The Devil You Know
Writing the Devil You Know was quite a strange experience for me. I hadn’t intended to write a novel about violence, murder , the mafia and sex. I had wanted the story to be a romance between an ex soldier working as a bodyguard in my favourite city, Paris and the woman he was sent to protect from her Mafia family. But as I began to write the story I found myself tapping into some uncomfortable past experiences in my life that began to feed my imagination and open up a world in which I explored my own emotional issues.
I wrote the novel in the present tense. This is a tense that many writers don’t use and publishers are reluctant to publish. However, I found that it was the only way I could convey the depth of feeling both characters were experiencing as the story unfolded. I also believed that the use of the present tense gave a sense of immediacy and allowed the reader to be drawn in to the world of the story and be captured within it, almost as though living the events with the characters in real time. This tense made the pace of the novel fast and allowed me to vent my subconscious feelings as they surfaced. It also gave the story a rough edgy quality, something I’d never had the confidence to achieve in a novel before as a woman.
The book is essentially about betrayal in relationships and people turning out to be somebody completely different to what they led you to believe. The Mafia angle was a way of creating a world of violence in which my protagonist Isabelle found herself trapped and unable to trust anyone. It gave the story a murky darkness in which all sorts of strange alliances and relationships could exist . Secrets and hidden agenda’s provided a backdrop in which it was better if you stuck with ‘The Devil You Know’ instead of taking a chance on someone you didn’t. But Isabelle finds herself forced to trust a stranger and encounters some dangerous surprises as a result.
The inspiration for The Devil You Know came from a bad experience at work in the 1990s. I was sexually harassed by a group of men I naively believed were friendly, trustworthy co- workers. I was also followed home on a train by a man for several nights. It was a very scary time for me but I am thankful to say one where I won out in the end. At the time everything was going on, I went for a massage to ease my stress and was told the masseur who was obviously psychic that a cloaked figure stood over me! That was all I needed. This strange scary apparition provided the idea for the phantom hooded male figure who stalks Isabelle in the book. I was just about a jabbering wreck with all of this going on and trying to keep a calm level head so none of them would succeed in pushing me out of my job and stop me getting on a train.
Quite a few years later I was still feeling very angry about both episodes and I began to write The Devil You Know to exorcise them. I wanted to show just what a lot of women have to put up with from some men in this world.
The characters in The Devil You Know were not explicitly based on anyone in particular but bore traits of lots of people. I don’t always know where my characters come from, they just seem to appear and grow in strength as I write them. Isabelle’s frustration and fierce anger at the way she was treated definitely came from me. Her journey in the book was to learn how to believe in herself, allow her confidence to grow and defeat the monster that continued to haunt her. I also wrote into the book how many women tend to ignore how certain men treat women. There are many scenes detailing women who were content to ignore the violence being enacted on Isabelle and be a spectator. It is all too familiar in our society which I find extremely shocking.
I suppose I could say that Christian Dalban was loosely based on two men I have known in my life. I innocently believed they were helpful kind friends and decent human beings only to find they were quite the opposite. Hence the title, The Devil You Know. We all have secrets about ourselves that sometimes we don’t even know. This novel explores secrets in relationships and whether or not we truly know or understand each other.
I have noticed that in many of my novels the betraying character pops up a lot so I guess I have some more exorcising to do. Lol. As for the scary dark hooded figure that stood over me, I recently found out from a psychic that he is still around and has always been there to protect me. Nice to put that little mystery to bed with a happy ending! Lol.
Thanks for being with us Sara!
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