Let's start with a very brief synopsis of the story. In 1993, sixteen-year-old Lisa Ching attends a senior party, her first ever. She's handed a drink and passes out in a deserted room. When she wakes up, she realizes that someone has ripped her clothes off, and raped her— several times, judging from the pain she feels. To spare her mother, she decides not to report the crime or say anything. For twenty-one years, she lives with the memory and the guilt of not doing anything. Finally, she cannot stand it any longer and asks her detective friend, John LeGrand, to find out who did this to her.
As John starts digging, he deduces that several individuals raped Lisa, not just one. The rapists, now grown men with jobs, families, and reputations to consider, cannot let something they did as teenagers ruin their lives. They devise a plan to resolve the situation, which includes murder. Now, John must not only prove that they raped Lisa. He must also free her from a murder charge.
How did this story come to life? A friend and fellow author once told me that she loved the interplay between Lisa Ching and John LeGrand in my short stories and my other novel, Searching for Lilith. I do too. When I developed Lisa's character, I wanted her to be sassy, sarcastic, and playful. John LeGrand was already tough, but sensitive, and a little old fashion. Soon, I realized that they played off each other perfectly. In every scene I placed them in, they seemed to create sparks. I decided to mine that attraction. In Lisa's Rape, I let their magnetism blossom. Yes, it's a story about rape, murder, kidnapping, and even hostage taking, but it is also a love story about a woman who has been raped by multiple men and a man who has been betrayed before by a woman he loved.
This is a detective story, so there has to be a crime to detect. Many years ago, in the mid-90s, I read a story about a young college woman who unknowingly drank a drink laced with Rohypnol and was raped. Later, when the police questioned her, she could remember nothing about what happened. The authorities never did find out who raped her. It never occurred to me to turn this into a story until I started searching for a way to bring John and Lisa together. I started asking questions. What if that young girl had not reported what happened to her? What if she kept reliving the rape in dreams or felt guilty because whoever did this might still be doing it to other women? What will happen if she decides to search out the rapists? As I started answering the questions, the story materialized.
I am often asked where I get my stories, and I usually answer that I get them from my imagination, but that isn't entirely honest. Yes, my imagination plays a huge part in coming up with my stories, but they usually begin with something real—something that happened in real life. Then I ask questions such as what, who, how, when, and where. The answers are the story. This is nothing new. Most writers I know do the same thing. They observe what goes on around them and ask those five pertinent questions. For the most part, our stories are slices of real life filtered through our fertile imaginations.
I hope you read Lisa's Rape and you're able to climb into the skin of two very likable characters and share their journey as they deal with the complexities of their lives. At the very least, I hope you enjoy the story. Let me know.
One more thing, rape is a very sensitive subject, especially of a sixteen-year-old, but of any woman. However, it does happen, and I tried to be as sensitive as I could about the matter. I am keenly aware that I am a man writing about a tragic occurrence from a woman's point of view, especially in the opening scene; however, this is John's and Lisa's story, and I could see no way around it.