Natalie Walters has been a military wife for 22 years, and comes from a family with members who have served in either the military or law enforcement. She now draws on her knowledge to create a fully formed, emotionally rich look at the cost of service and secrets. In Living Lies (Revell), book one in the Harbored Secrets series, Walters’s fresh new voice pulls readers into an edge-of-your-seat plot with more than a few surprises. In this interview, Natalie details the struggles of her main character, explains how her background is infused into the story, and shares the importance of the small-town setting…
In Living Lies, the heroine struggles with more than just a physical enemy. She also wrestles with an emotional and personal enemy. Can you expand on this?
Lane Kent’s struggle is with depression. It’s an illness that affects people without bias and has such a stigma surrounding it that many people suffer in silence. Her family’s lack of understanding isolates her further, making it harder for her to overcome the belief that she is flawed beyond hope and her life has no value. It’s a battle that often occurs daily and can be triggered unexpectedly, leaving Lane teetering on the edge of life-altering choices.
Living Lies is more than a romantic suspense story. It’s a story that reveals the internal struggles of one woman’s battle with depression and realization that her diagnosis doesn’t define her. Sometimes it only takes one person looking into the heart of another, beyond what the rest of the world sees, to understand that God makes no mistakes and there is purpose in every life.
You are a military wife, and you also come from a long line of military and law enforcement veterans. How did your background help you write your new novel?
It gives me a unique perspective that’s personal to the lifestyle. I wasn’t just an author researching the military or law enforcement livelihood. I was the wife, daughter, granddaughter, sister, and niece drawing details from personal history that have shaped me as a person. It also helped to have instant access to family members who have served in these fields for decades.
What type of research was required for writing Living Lies?
Police procedure was a must. I would have family members to answer to if I got that wrong.
I have three uncles who fought in the Vietnam War. One was injured and one is still haunted by memories. It’s not a war that I see often written about, and I used my character, Miguel Roa, to shed light on some of the more tragic effects of the war that I discovered through articles, documentaries, and family history.
We’ve been blessed in our military career to meet friends from almost all the government agencies, so my research regarding the drug-smuggling plot happened because of dear friends in the DEA who allowed me to interrupt many dinner conversations with my questions and what-if scenarios.
Your series is set in the small town of Walton, Georgia. Why did you choose this location?
Lane Kent’s story actually started in Northern Virginia, where our family was living when I first began writing her story. It wasn’t until our family was reassigned to Coastal Georgia that I really began to see the setting for Living Lies come to life.
We lived in a small town where Southern hospitality was at its best and was often served with a glass of sweet tea and a whisper of gossip. It was easy to imagine the struggle Lane would face living in a town where everyone knows her (or thinks they do) and having to keep a secret that could damage not only her reputation but also her family’s reputation.
The natural elements of the location were also a huge draw. The live oaks and dripping boughs of Spanish moss were haunting but beautiful and reflected perfectly both Lane’s and Miguel’s stories.
What do you hope readers gain from reading your book?
Hope. I want to remind those who might be suffering from depression or anxiety that they are not alone. They are seen and have purpose, a reason to fight and live. I also want to create a good story with a quaint town and lovable characters that readers will want to come back and visit. A story that will stay with the reader long after they close the book.
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Harbored Secrets #1