by Rachel Amphlett
Reading through the "About Me" page on Rachel's website, I feel like I could spent a whole afternoon chatting with her - her love to travel, her interest in movies, and her current place of residence, Brisbane. AND, about settling into Australia after moving here from the UK in 2005.1 - Your "About Me" page reads like a novel in its own - helped run a pub, played lead guitar in bands, worked as a TV & film extra, dabbled in radio ... anything this girl can't do? :-)
I’m scared of heights – not in the sense of high buildings or anything (I really enjoyed doing the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb for instance), but you’d never get me sky-diving or bungee-jumping!
I also can’t knit. As a child, my mum and both grandmothers stopped trying to teach me very quickly once they realised my attempts would only ever resemble fishing nets. I’m pretty lethal with a sewing machine too.
2 - You've travelled a lot. What do you like most about travelling, and is there a place you liked most?
I love people-watching, I love discovering new places and I’m such a nerd when it comes to soaking up history! There are so many places I’ve been which I’ve enjoyed but my favourites include Cuba, Italy and Turkey – mostly for the history aspects and the aromas, the food – the whole experience.
Having said that, there are still places I’d love to go where I haven’t been yet, including the USA, Peru, Cambodia, South Africa, China – I’d best start saving!
The opening scene just popped into my head one day. It was of a woman, with a sack over her head, and she was in trouble. It was so vivid, I could almost smell the hessian sackcloth. We were on holiday in Malta at the time last year and I spent a whole day sketching out the entire plot and wrote the first draft in the space of nine weeks when we got home – it’s been the fastest first draft I’ve ever written. I think that was the key – it’s a hostage rescue situation, which happens in a compressed timeframe, and the writing of it reflected that urgency and pace.
4 - Tell us about your current project.
I’ve got a couple of projects on the boil at the moment. The first is a standalone thriller which is based in London and the surrounding area, and the other is a standalone romantic suspense which I’m really excited about. I'm still trying to decide on the setting of that but it's not stopping me from roughing out the first draft. The plan is to release both next year so I can keep my head down and research and write the third Dan Taylor thriller.
5 - From one immigrant to another - any regrets?
Absolutely none at all – I’d do it all again if I had to.
“If they move you, they will kill you.”
Kate Foster is quick to forget the advice from a pre-deployment hostage survival course once she’s catapulted into a new job in Eastern Europe, despite the good-looking instructor. But a simple day’s task in Istanbul six months later goes horribly wrong.
Trapped and alone, her only hope of survival is the man who trained her – ex-FBI Hostage Rescue Specialist, Finn Scott.
For Finn, it’s his worst nightmare. Kate was the one person he almost let into his heart. Haunted by memories of a failed hostage rescue, he is thrust into a situation beyond his control. Now, against a sinister adversary whose ambitions will split apart Eastern Europe, Finn must overcome his demons to prevent an international catastrophe.
And avoid losing Kate forever.
Author:Rachel Amphlett previously worked in the UK publishing industry, played lead guitar in rock bands, and worked with BBC radio before relocating from England to Australia in 2005.
From June 5th, BEFORE NIGHTFALL can be purchased in eBook and paperback formats from over 40 worldwide retail outlets. Click here for details: http://www.rachelamphlett.com/where-to-buy.html
Kate Foster’s breath escaped her lips in short, shallow bursts.
The sack, which had been placed over her head when she had first been attacked, clung to her mouth and nose with each inhaled gasp.
Condensation prickled against her face, the lack of air suffocating. Her heart beat rapidly, hammering against her ribcage, while a trickle of sweat worked its way between her breasts.
The hard wooden chair pierced the denim fabric of her jeans, and she wriggled backwards, trying to ease the pressure on her pelvic bone.
‘Stay still,’ said a voice to her right.
Her head twitched, and she held her breath, sensing the man as he drew closer. She caught a faint trace of his scent through the musty fabric of the sackcloth – sweat, a hint of hours-old aftershave.
Her heart skipped a beat, and her stomach clenched. The smell grew stronger, and she turned her head from side to side, trying to gauge the man’s exact location. A faint echo of his shower gel lingered in the air between them, a mixture of musk and jasmine.
‘No-one’s coming to get you,’ he murmured in her ear.
Kate jumped in her seat, not realising his proximity had been so close. Her heart raced harder, and she exhaled, trying to keep calm, the rushing sound in her ears now deafening.
A low chuckle vibrated next to her skin. She twisted, trying to gain some distance between them.
She’d lost all sense of time. This morning, she’d been talking to three colleagues outside, taking advantage of the rare sunshine that had bathed the courtyard.
The attack had been swift, well-coordinated, with no warning.
Her jewellery and watch had been removed from her, and then she’d been shoved into a small room with her colleagues, and told to stay silent.
Maybe an hour had passed, during which time her colleagues had been taken one by one from the room, leaving the remaining captives to their own thoughts.
Then, the hostage takers had returned for her, dragging her from the sitting position she’d been forced to adopt, the sack over her head damp with condensation from her breath.
She’d felt a hard surface under her feet, and then a door had slammed shut behind her. She’d been forced into a chair, before her wrists were pushed through plastic cuffs and secured.
Now, her breathing increased as she tried to remember what she’d been told, what to do to keep her captor calm. She worked her wrists, trying to loosen the cuffs and keep the circulation flowing through her fingers.
‘They’ll pay you,’ she whispered, then coughed and cleared her throat before repeating herself. ‘They’ll pay you. To let me go. To keep me safe.’
An exasperated sigh escaped the man’s lips.
Kate held her breath, and then jumped as the sackcloth was ripped off her head. She blinked in the rays of light shining through the grubby farmhouse window.
The voice drew her attention back to the man who was now standing in front of her, hands on hips, glaring.
‘Don’t ever try to bargain with them,’ he said, then turned and strode across the room to a table. He threw the sackcloth onto it and slumped into another chair, facing her, his foot tapping an unknown beat on the floor. ‘You do that, they’re going to feed on your desperation.’
Kate shifted in her seat and watched his heel bounce up and down, and then caught him staring at her. She blushed and lowered her gaze.
The hostage course was so damn hard – only three days to remember everything the instructors were trying to teach her, on top of a bad case of jetlag after her flight from the US two days ago. The difficulty rating went through the ceiling when the taller of the two, now berating her, looked so bloody good in the tight black t-shirt he was wearing with his jeans.
She raised her head and watched the man who was running his hand through his unkempt brown hair, frustration etched across his face.
He appeared to ignore her discomfort. ‘Small steps. Build up a rapport – don’t discuss politics, religion or your own situation. Keep it simple. Ask for small favours.’ His voice rose. ‘And under no circumstances talk about paying a ransom. Ever.’
He rose from the chair and stalked towards her. ‘That’s the hostage negotiator’s job, and you could ruin everything he’s trying to do to save you. Remember the basics we discussed in the classroom yesterday?’
Kate swallowed. She found her concentration wavering as she stared into his green eyes, sure she could see gold flecks around the edge of his irises, and then cursed inwardly as her bottom lip quivered. Although it was a simulated kidnapping, it had been frighteningly real.
Her eyes stung, and she blinked, inhaled deeply and tried to ignore the heat in her face. ‘Can you at least untie me?’
He waited for a heartbeat, and then turned, shaking his head. ‘You sort her out,’ he said over his shoulder and pushed his way through a door which led to the yard outside.
Kate’s mouth dropped open in indignation, before her attention was drawn to another, older man approaching her.
He reached into the back pocket of his jeans, pulled out a knife and bent down. He flicked the blade open. As he raised the blade, he glanced up, his grey eyes twinkling with humour.
‘Ignore Finn,’ he said. ‘He’s having a bad day.’
A faint smile stole across Kate’s face, and she sniffed. ‘Really, Steve? What’s he like on a good day?’
He smirked. ‘You’ve got another day and a half to go, so I’ll have a word, get him to play nice. Keep still.’
She nodded and watched as he gathered her wrists within one of his hands and sawed through the plastic cuffs that held her.