How did you get the idea for Stockholm Syndrome?
This book started out as a relatively short, flirty romance that would fit in nicely with the other books in the Americans Abroad series. I wanted to set a story in Stockholm because I have friends there and have some great vacation memories of places that I just felt were perfect for a book.
Then I was listening to NPR, as I often do, and I realized that my local radio station phone number is literally the only phone number I know by heart anymore, and I thought wouldn’t it be funny if two characters met because one of them dialed the station number by accident and the other one picked up? And of course, it could’ve been anyone doing that—local bakery owner, a teacher, a plumber—but for some reason, I became convinced it should be a spy. Of course, they say ‘write what you know’, so I made Amanda an office temp.
Okay, but really…Russians and spies? How 1980.
I know, right? A book with Russian spies in 2017? Come on.
When I got the idea, it was in early 2016, and I thought it was a little far-fetched, too. I was like, no, it can’t be Russians. This isn’t the Cold War anymore. I figured I’d have to come up with a story that involved terrorists or something. Then we had an election, and the Russia investigation, and OMG, ya’ll—Russian spies are everywhere!
In that case, how much of this story is real?
I could tell you, but then I’d have to…no, seriously, it’s fiction. But actually, the sad thing is that, while the specifics of this story are made up, the alt-right focus and activity in Sweden is very real. Sometimes the plot ideas I had felt a little too plausible. And for various reasons, Sweden is a favorite target for these folks, especially when it comes to their immigration and refugee policies, for making an example out of about how Sweden’s liberal policies are ‘wrong’. So Sweden is definitely the right setting for this type of book. Oh, and all the locations are real, and so very much worth visiting if you get a chance. Sweden is a great country, and the food is excellent, in case you couldn’t tell by reading the book.
What’s next for Leigh and Amanda?
Well, they are going to have to save the world. I mean, obviously. In the next book, they head to Moscow. Will that be the end of the Russia stuff? I’m not sure. I know they will be taking Aunt Millie to Monte Carlo in the third book, tailing a sneaky con-woman. Is she connected to Russia? Maybe…There are so many possibilities for where this series might go, and part of it depends what crazy stuff is in the news between now and then, and how much more of it readers want to see.
Those names, Leigh and Amanda. They feel familiar.
My favorite show when I was a kid was Scarecrow and Mrs. King. The main characters were Lee and Amanda, and I loved the idea of a civilian and a spy, and all the witty and flirty banter between the leads. That was my inspiration, without a doubt, when writing this book.