When The Phone Rings At Midnight

A midnight phone call rarely brings good news. This idea sparked the opening scene for one of the Q.C. Davis mysteries, The Fractured Man. But it didn’t inspire the plot.

The self-help industry did. And I say “industry” for a reason.

The Fractured Man Q.C. Davis Mystery Series 3

Because I love self-help minus the industry. Tony Robbins' book Awaken The Giant Within helped me reframe my thoughts and overcome anxiety when it was a real struggle. Other books on happiness, productivity, and success helped me make career changes and improve my relationships.

But self-help has dark sides. I've fallen prey to one – the belief that what works for me will also fix you. (And by the way, self-help says you need to be fixed.)

Most of us do this now and then, but we catch ourselves. We realize that just because yoga is the only exercise that works for us doesn’t mean it’s the best exercise for everybody. Any more than our prescription eyeglasses will make someone else see better.

But self-help companies can’t expand their audiences or make tons of money by admitting that. So some (not all) pressure those who join them to stop at nothing to recruit others. Unfortunately, often the message is that anyone who doesn’t see the light is no doubt miserable, failing to live up to their potential, or evil.

Pick your negative view.

And the only fix, of course, is to pay to join the movement, attend class after class, worship the guru, etc. Also, don’t forget that if you care at all about another person you absolutely owe it to them to bring them into the fold.

And so I created Seminar, a fictional self-help organization.

I drew from books, blogs, forums, and documentaries about different self-help groups and organizations. Including my fave Tony Robbins. (Check out the documentary I Am Not Your Guru if you’re curious.) I did my best to find sources that covered the pros and cons of each.

Nearly every organization or guru I looked into had helped people. Their sales techniques varied, but I took from the most intense of them to form Seminar, which provides the backdrop for The Fractured Man.

Specifically, Quille's long-lost childhood friend calls her at midnight for help. He works for Seminar, his boss is dead, and he’s the prime suspect. But his involvement in and dedication to the organization keep him from telling Quille the whole truth.

Which puts both their lives at risk.

Also key to sparking the story for The Fractured Man is the question of what we owe childhood friends we’ve outgrown. But that’s a topic for another time.



P.S. The Fractured Man also is available in a Large Print Edition

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