Over 2300 hundred people are reported missing every day. That thought stuck in my mind after watching a show on the Natalie Holloway case. I was heartbroken and fascinated at the same time after hearing the particulars of Natalie’s disappearance. How can a young girl in the prime of her life just vanish without a trace? I started looking into other disappearance cases that have left investigators just shaking their heads. What happened to these people? Where are they now?
That was the beginning of an idea for a new suspense series featuring Rachel Scott, my main character. Rachel founded a search and rescue organization after the disappearance of her three year old daughter Mallory. Mallory vanished while playing in the front yard of their Miami home and was never found. Rachel, who was frustrated at the lack of leads in the case, took matters into her own hands and started Florida Omni Search.
I modeled Florida Omni Search after Texas Equusearch, which is the same company that assisted in the Natalie Holloway case as well as other high profile cases like Caylee Anthony. Texas Equusearch, founded by Tim Miller, was started in August 2000 and is located in Galveston County, Texas. It is one of the few specialized volunteer teams in the US that search for missing persons nationwide.
After doing extensive research on the subject of missing persons, I wrote the first book of the series, Burn Out. It was published in April and features Samantha Collins, a firefighter who vanishes during a warehouse fire. Samantha leads her firefighter crew into a burning warehouse to locate the owner’s son. After he is pulled out, one of the crew members realizes that Samantha is missing. The warehouse roof collapses and she is presumed dead. Her helmet is found outside the rear parking lot, but her body is never found. Samantha’s mother contacts Rachel and Florida Omni Search to help locate her missing daughter. The novel takes the reader through the investigation as Rachel starts putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
Burn Out was fun to research and write. My husband is a firefighter and I relied heavily on his expertise when it came to questions about various firefighting techniques.
I’m currently working on the next book in the series titled Asylum Harbor, where Rachel and Florida Omni Search are called to the Bahamas to locate a missing teenager – who is also the daughter of the governor of Florida. She disappeared while on a spring break cruise to the Bahamas. This story is reminiscent of the Natalie Holloway case.
With thousands of missing person cases, I don’t think I will every run out of material to write and the Rachel Scott series will be a long and fulfilling one.
Traci Hohenstein lives in NW Florida with her husband and three children. She has been a freelance writer for over fifteen years and has written numerous articles for local and national media. When not writing, she can usually be found at the beach with her family. She is currently at work on her next Rachel Scott series, Asylum Harbor which will be released Summer 2011.
You can connect with Traci Hohenstein on her blog.