Thursday, January 23, 2014

How I Came to Write This Book: Cathi Stoler



How would you feel if someone took over your life?  Your name? Your bank accounts? Knew everything about your family and had access to every email and text message?
A horrible thought, isn’t it? One that scared me every time I saw another story about identity theft in the newspaper or on TV.

The idea that this could happen to me—or any one of us—was horrible, especially since most people don’t know how to protect themselves from becoming victims. But horrific ideas can often be the stuff of tantalizing mystery plots, or so I thought, and Keeping Secrets came to be.    

While the story is a mystery, it also explores the motivation behind identity theft. Was it just money that someone was after, or something else, such as simply wanting to leave their own lives behind? How would this actually affect a significant other, someone who had no inkling that the person they loved was a fraud?”

Delving into these issues are my two protagonists, Laurel Imperiole, Magazine Editor and Private Investigator, Helen McCorkendale, who I introduced in my first book, Telling Lies. Once again, they find themselves in the thick of things as they pursue their quarry.

Here’s a short synopsis of Keeping Secrets

Laurel Imperiole, a reporter for New York’s Women Now magazine, has just received a series of emails from Anne Ellsworth, a young woman in fear for her life. Anne has discovered that her fiancé has several aliases and is terrified of what he will do if he finds out. Laurel, who empathizes with Anne, sees an opportunity to rescue her and write a story on hidden identities that will help her readers avoid similar predicaments. Helen McCorkendale, a private eye and close friend, agrees to investigate Anne’s fiancé, David, and Laurel’s banker boyfriend, Matt. Laurel had planned to use Matt as the good guy in the story—the one with nothing to hide—but Anne’s situation, and Matt’s sudden strange behavior, is making her paranoid.
Soon Helen and Laurel find that they have stirred up a hornet’s nest buzzing with vengeful Mafiosi, greedy bankers, and dirty politicians. The women discover that everything is connected, and everyone has something to hide. Will the secrets Laurel and Helen disclose keep them alive or seal their fates?
Keeping Secrets is available at and booksellers everywhere.
Cathi Stoler’s mysteries feature P.I. Helen McCorkendale and magazine editor, Laurel Imperiole in her Laurel and Helen New York Mystery series. Novels with these two protagonists include Telling Lies, Keeping Secrets and coming in April, The Hard Way. She has also published a novella, Nick of Time, and is working on a new series, Bar None, A Murder on The Rocks Mystery. She has had stories published in several print anthologies and online, including Fatal Flaw, a finalist for the Derringer for Best Short Story. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, as well as Sisters in Crime and posts at the blog. Visit Cathi at


Anonymous said...

Patti - Thanks for hosting Cathi.

Cathi - Real-life events like that can really be powerful inspirations for stories. Thanks for sharing how you were inspired. And you're right; its a very real and frightening possibility.

Charles Gramlich said...

Yes, a terrifying thought, and for the most part something new to our age.

Cathi Stoler said...

Margot & Charles,
Thanks for your comments. Identity theft is frightening and very hard to undo. Much easier to deal with in a novel than in real life.