Interview with Thriller Suspense Author Leona Bodie on new book ‘Shadow Cay’

Leona BodieCan you imagine a thriller author married to a CSI star? Leona Bodie currently lives on the Treasure Coast of Florida with her husband Walter, a Miami-Dade Police Department forensic specialist for 21 years, who actually appeared in the pilot episode of the long-running TV series, CSI. She and he often collaborate. Originally from NJ, Leona’s career took her from high school English teacher to a biotechnology corporate executive and president of the Greater Miami Society of Human Resource Management before she shifted to writing books. Leona’s the author of COCOONED IN DARKNESS, the upcoming book FEAR THE WHISPERS, and her debut thriller SHADOW CAY, is the recipient of 4 literary awards. For more details about Leona Bodie and her books, please visit:

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About Shadow Cay

Shadow CayMadeleine Nesbitt lives a privileged, sheltered life on a pristine tropical island paradise until the young girl is hauled off the deck of a capsizing ferry. Sixty-two passengers drown, trapped under the hull. Madeleine survives but her innocence dies that day. Despite the odds, she’s resilient enough to put her life together. However, nine years later she realizes too late that catastrophe is only the beginning of the dangers that lurk ahead when another maritime disaster hits closer to home. Someone wants to make sure the Nesbitt family never makes it out of paradise alive.

One peaceful night in a moonlit Bahamian cove, her parents are violently murdered on their boat, shattering the only security Madeleine’s ever known. Now that she’s uncovered a global link to her parent’s death and a terrorist conspiracy, she’s suddenly thrust into a world of international intrigue. Will a psychopath determine her fate or will she find justice before the killers return for the next of kin?

Read the excerpt here!

Q: Thank you for this interview, Leona. Can you tell us what your latest book, Shadow Cay, is all about?

Madeleine Nesbitt lives a privileged, sheltered life on a pristine tropical island paradise until the young girl is hauled off the deck of a capsizing ferry. Sixty-two passengers drown, trapped under the hull. Madeleine survives but her innocence dies that day. Despite the odds, she’s resilient enough to put her life together.  However, nine years later she realizes too late that catastrophe is only the beginning of the dangers that lurk ahead when another maritime disaster hits closer to home. Someone wants to make sure the Nesbitt family never makes it out of paradise alive.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

AJ Hartman is seduced by power. He’s the maverick founder and technical genius behind JaHart. Though many worlds removed, the sins of his father forever haunt AJ and steer his course in the international business community. Simmering under the surface are his demons, but all the world sees is his passion for providing high quality medical solutions.

Peter Duncan’s admiration for AJ Hartman leaps from high regard to hero worship to downright disdain when he digs into his boss’ background, his business and his contacts, stumbling onto an international conspiracy too horrible to believe.  Smart, persistent and dangerously reckless, Peter suddenly finds himself pitted against the world’s largest medical device company in a desperate race to save lives.  Peter’s efforts forever change the landscape of the budding South Florida medical device industry.

Rico Salazar is a man with no conscience who thrives on money, excitement, depravity and adventure in all its myriad forms.  The Columbian national, who creates a multi-billion dollar drug empire headquartered in the Bahamas, is untouchable and unstoppable until he falls in love with An eighteen-year-old girl. Then, Rico’s forced to accept the truth: he has chinks in his armor.  Finally, he recognizes Madeleine Nesbitt’s a formidable enemy, but no one’s ever crossed Rico and lived to talk about it.

Madeleine Nesbitt is suddenly thrust into a world of international intrigue one peaceful night in a moonlit Bahamian cove. Her parents are brutally murdered on their boat, shattering the only security she’s ever known. Now that she’s uncovered a global link to her parent’s death and a terrorist conspiracy, will a psychopath determine her fate or will she find justice before the killers return for the next of kin?

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Peter Duncan shares my husband’s occupation and his beautiful brown eyes, otherwise Peter is his own man.

In general, although there are exceptions, my characters are a blend of fiction and reality. Their names, physical appearance, age, race, background and most character traits are totally from my imagination. The eccentricities and gestures are authentic, based on real people. However Madeleine Nesbitt is 100% a byproduct of my imagination. I know no one like her, but I will admit she’s the one character that shares my own inner strength.

Vanessa Vidal has a fictional name, appearance and mannerisms, but she is based on an actual “type A” MDPD criminalist  that inspired me with her humanity, gutsiness and tenacity. Just as Vanessa speaks in Shadow Cay to the challenges forensic pros face every day, the real “Vanessa”  has worked on 30,000 criminal cases in her career. Today, she’s the voice behind the Florida Association of Forensic Professionals. By the way, thanks to her, Shadow Cay was promoted as a fundraiser for this organization, that’s credited with winning back the high-risk status for forensic professionals in Miami Dade County.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

When I wrote Shadow Cay, I had the entire story plotted in my  head before I wrote word one. It was story that nagged to be told. Once I’m in the zone, nothing is difficult. The book wrote itself.

Q: Your book is set in the Bahamas and South Florida).  Can you tell us why you chose the Bahamas and Miami, Florida in particular?

I love the Bahamas and have spent lots of time sailing there. On one of our getaways in our 33-foot Morgan Out Island sailboat, my husband Walt and I cruised 1,700 miles.

That three-month adventure took us from the usual tourist traps to remote, uninhabited islands. And the show stopper was Normans Cay. My research into its history led me to flash back two decades: A dramatic flying adventure, international intrigue, a forced crash landing, a brush with death and a tropical  island paradise with a seedy secret.

Deep in the heart of the Out Islands, surrounded by crystalline water, unspoiled white beaches and surreal sunsets, I wrote Shadow Cay, a novel about  the murder, greed and corruption that takes place in the tropics between Miami and the Bahamas.

It’s  a story where boating, crime and medical technology intertwine with modern forensic science. As the wife of a forensic expert with twenty-one years in the MDPD, I understand Miami’s underbelly and the critical role forensics plays in solving crimes. My book speaks to the challenges the Crime Lab faces every day. That’s why the second half of the story takes place in Florida where I’ve lived for thirty-four years.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

No doubt about it, the atmosphere and regional color of the Bahamian out islands and Miami Florida play a major role. Shadow Cay delivers exotic locations and captures the sun and the sin. In a world where big bucks and bigger dreams entwine in a web of deceit, we see the mystery of the Bahamian out islands, and we see Miami today—multicultural, unpredictable and desperate.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Sixty-five hundred miles away, Madeleine suddenly felt uncomfortable. In her dream, she couldn’t understand why she was afraid. The dazzling sunshine offered no place to hide. Frightened, she darted from the beach and hurried toward the murmuring and clatter. Tourists, fishermen and dockside customers crammed the open-air, poolside bar, where they sipped their drinks and listened to the band. The music tugged, drew her closer to the village center. She relaxed, strolling through the bustling open-air mart.

The air tingled, alive with the sounds of steel drums and sultry songs. In the outdoor marketplace, familiar tunes ebbed and flowed, while islanders chatted and sashayed through stands teeming with produce. The crowds were quieter than usual. A cluster of neighbors spoke about a missing boat. Snippets about someone lost at sea, disappeared without a trace.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

ADAM JOSEPH HARTMAN sat in his second-floor home office and sipped his coffee, stealing a few minutes to enjoy the Coral Gables Waterway, as the sun peeked behind a neighbor’s estate. It occurred to him simple pleasures no longer interested him. Only the best money could buy, since Rico’s schemes gave Adam a virtual carte blanche to finance his operation, by laundering millions in drug proceeds.

He distinguished minute details of nearby waterfront properties, admiring their taste and beauty. He found himself thinking his coveted peninsula point surpassed every other lot on the wide canal, lined with pleasure boats. What he appreciated most was he could neither see the Downtown Miami skyline, nor hear the roar of the jets descending on Miami International Airport.

Adam turned from the window, ignored the other man in the room, and continued drafting the report for the Board of Directors meeting. His over six-foot frame was hunched over the desk, until the phone rang. He leaned back for a moment, his hand lightly tapping his pen. The incessant ringing made him grimace.

“Damn, I can’t stand interruptions. Rico, get that.

Rico’s raven eyes looked mildly annoyed, but he pushed his wiry brown body from the chair. “No problem.”

Adam went back to his report, fully expecting Rico to announce who was on the phone and why. The room was curiously quiet. Adam glanced up. His friend clutched the telephone receiver so tightly, the skin over his knuckles smoothed out and whitened. The intensity in Rico’s eyes and his wilting mouth, told Adam something was terribly wrong.

Rico slowly replaced the receiver, then rubbed his palms together, as if he had touched something filthy and needed a hand sanitizer.

“What’s with you,” Adam asked, as Rico’s bushy brow furrowed and his eyes took on a look of sadness.

“I don’t know how to tell you this, but it’s about your father.”

“What the hell are you talking about? What do you know about him?”

“Hey, man, I don’t care one way or the other, but we’ve been friends for years. That was someone from your old neighborhood, said he doesn’t know you, but thought you’d want to know…”

“Come on, out with it. I’m too busy for this. On second thought, forget it. I don’t need to know.”

“Adam, your father’s dead. The man on the phone said he’d mail the obituary.”

“I don’t want to talk about him. Let’s get back to work.” As a question formed on Rico’s face, Adam changed the subject. “I have a problem with Wexler, that employee I told you about. I need you to take care of it.”

“I’ll handle it, but let’s get back to what we were talking about. He’s your old man. Besides, you oughta be glad you had one.”

“Rico, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

But you know what it was like, Adam. You know exactly what it was like.

Adam drummed his pen on the desk, thinking about his early years. He never remembered loving his father.

“I know exactly what I’m saying,” Rico said. “Remember, I didn’t have an old man like you did. But I wish I had.”

Adam toyed with his coffee spoon and tried to imagine if he would have been better off without a father. Yes, Rico didn’t know how lucky he was.

“You have no idea what you’re saying. That bastard shouldn’t have been anybody’s father. I still remember that smell.”

“What’re you talking about? Sometimes I don’t understand you. What the hell happened?”

You know what happened, Adam. It came back in one dark instant and scared you. You can remember the feel of it, can’t you?

He still remembered his mother’s scream. He could almost feel the way his father Caleb had moved on him thirty-three years ago. He had wiped away the memory and didn’t want it to come back.

“What the hell happened?” Rico repeated.

Adam got up from the chair, walked to the window and looked out. Inside the shiny pane glass, the reflection of a wimpy six-year old boy with ash blond hair and wide-set violet eyes stared back.

You remember, Adam, don’t you? You had a puny body.

“Rico, I don’t think I ever told you my nickname. When I was six, the other kids said I was scrawny. ‘Noodle’—that’s what they called me. I used to pray my growth spurt would kick in.”

“What’s all this got to do with your old man? Why are you so Goddamn sensitive about him?”

“Being the shortest kid in first grade hurt. I had the battle scars to prove it,” Adam said, as a sour taste filled his mouth. “Those bruises were nothing compared to being Caleb Hartman’s son.”

“So he cared enough to discipline you. My old man didn’t even stick around to do that.”

“My father’s addresses changed like the numbers on a daily calendar, except for the rare times he stayed in one spot for a month or two. He spent so much time philandering, I wasn’t sure how many of my friends were siblings.”

“I still say…”

“Even with his Bohemian lifestyle, I tolerated him, until he deserted my mom. He made her life and mine a living hell. I hated him. I wished he’d die.”

“You got your wish, didn’t you?”

“No, I should’ve killed him. I don’t want to talk about it anymore, Rico. Take a break. Give me an hour to clear my head.”

Adam sat down and leaned back in his chair. Then, he reached across the desk, grabbed his report and crumbled it into a tight round ball. When he threw the wad on the floor, Adam watched a mystified look grab hold of Rico’s face, but his friend skulked out of the room without saying another word.

Adam tried to put that first conscious memory of his father and Belle Glade behind him, but it resurfaced, just as clear as if it had happened yesterday. It was back. Sickening and riveting, as real as it had been thirty-three years ago. Maybe this was the time to remember it. Not just that Monday, but all the days and moments after it. He wanted to remember it just the way it happened, without timeworn distortions impairing his recollection.

A glint on the mirror caught his eye. Adam looked back at the window, where a single smudge marred the pane. He saw sun streaming in and dust floating eerily in the beams. All those years ago, he had looked out a small dirty window.

SUNLIGHT trickled through the drab shadowy kitchen, when the backdoor squeaked and opened a crack. From the crevice, a breeze of half-digested alcohol blew through the room like an intruder. Adam jerked in his chair. The sudden movement spun the bowl from his grip and his dish of rice cereal crashed to the floor with a loud clang. Milk pooled under his fingers.

An instant later he heard stirrings behind the door and twisted to the muffled noises. His father, a middle-aged mountain of muscle partly hidden in the entryway, didn’t budge from the door. Instead he commanded a wide-angle view of the room and stared back with a lopsided grin.

His father moved closer and stopped. Scrunched against the chair, Adam winced and squeezed his eyes shut. Cold air prickled the skin on his arms and legs.

“Open your eyes.”

Adam obeyed the order. His father’s eyes locked into his. Forced to look at the bristles and the grime, Adam squirmed. The worst thing about his father was not his unrelenting eye contact or the dirt under his fingernails or even the rotten smells that followed him wherever he went. The worst thing was the nasty way his father talked and how he made Adam feel.

His father inched closer.  . .

Thank you so much for this interview, Leona. We wish you much success!




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One response to “Interview with Thriller Suspense Author Leona Bodie on new book ‘Shadow Cay’

  1. Pingback: Thriller Suspense Author Leona Bodie’s Shadow Cay Virtual Book Tour – Day 1 « Let’s Talk Virtual Book Tours

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