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May 5, 2023

Inspiration can come from anywhere, as Vancise demonstrates in her second book, Hidden in the Shadows, which was awarded an Editor’s Pick by BookLife Reviews. Just like Vancise did, her main character, Evie, finds a mysterious photograph among her grandfather’s belongings and sets out to discover the secret behind it.

What prompted you to start writing Hidden in the Shadows?

A photograph that I’d found in my own grandfather’s box of family photos. And just as Evie found the photo and asked about it, I did too. My grandfather was a police chief in my small hometown, and this photo was from his first case. It, or at least the story behind it, haunted me for years. And like Evie’s granddad, mine also did not want to talk about it. The secret of what really happened died with him in 1991.

Why choose the thriller genre to work in?

I’d always loved reading mysteries and thrillers and saw myself writing in that space. It is my favorite genre. And since the photo already had a mystery surrounding it, it seemed even more fitting.

How did you go about writing Evie, who might be more of an unreliable narrator than readers expect? 

Evie, well, where to begin? I think we all want parts of Evie in ourselves at times. A tenacity for finding the truth in lies, for finding a depth in ourselves that we didn’t know we had. Truthfully, Evie evolved out of myself, and at times I had to remind myself that she wasn’t me—that I could make her who she, and also I, wanted her to be, which was a vulnerable, naive, yet stubborn young woman with a curiosity and a raw innocence. I wanted her to be a character readers could relate to and root for, someone unlikely or not typical of what we might expect in a story like this. I also felt I needed a character like Evie to counterbalance the evilness and heaviness of Charlie’s POV.

If you could pick anyone to give this book to, who would it be and why?

Without a doubt, I would love to get it into the hands of a survivor of child trafficking or occult rituals so that they know someone heard them. That said, the killer sections of the book are based on real testimonies from survivors of these horrific acts, so I wouldn’t want the story to trigger them. I read and listened to the stories of many survivors from different decades and places all over the world. Hearing what had happened to them broke my heart, but reading the comments from people broke it more. To think these poor kids literally escaped the gates of hell to then be told that it never happened to them or that they were delusional—that tore at me. I knew then, as hard as it would be, that I needed to take this book down that dark path.

Your website says that you’ve planned four sequels to Hidden in the Shadows. When can readers expect the next book?

I’m hoping to have it completed within the next year. I’m working on two, the sequel, of course, but also a prequel of sorts called Memoirs from a Killer. A character named Roman—yes, the one from Hidden in the Shadows—is filling my ear with quite a story!