Interview: SAFE HOUSE by Shannon Symonds

What if home is the most dangerous place of all?

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | DESERET BOOK

Genre: Romantic Suspense or Thriller | Heat Level: 1 Heart

Publisher: Cedar Fort | Release Date: 7.12.2017

SAFE HOUSE

True, it was her prison, but it was also her sanctuary.

Where can you turn when your house is not safe? In a small coastal town in Oregon, Amber and Kelly know the deadliest people sleep down the hall. As they attempt to escape the violent, domineering men in their lives, despair fights against faith and hope as an introduction to the Book of Mormon promises them a haven they can't find in their homes. But getting out of these abusive situations is not as easy as it appears. With their lives spiraling out of control, can they have faith that God's grace will save them?

Safe House by Shannon Symonds is not an easy book to read, but it is impossible to forget. It deals with the difficult subject of domestic abuse. If anyone has ever wondered why an abused spouse doesn’t just leave, this story will answer that question. An abused spouse is usually penniless and worries about how and where she’ll live if she leaves or worries about her or her children’s safety if she leaves and becomes homeless. Shattered self-esteem is another factor. This book also points out how to find help. It’s also a great story.”

~ Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine

Q&A with SHANNON SYMONDS

What can you tell us about Safe House?

Safe House is a mystery thriller set on the rugged Oregon Coast. Grace James is an advocate who works alongside handsome Officer Joe Hart serving survivors of domestic abuse. Grace and Hart meet 2 different survivors, Amber and Kelly, who know the most dangerous people in their lives sleep right down the hall.

Have you ever wondered why most victims of domestic abuse don’t hit back or just leave? Have you cheered when the bad guy loses? Safe House will change the way you see survivors and the dilemmas they face.

Amber tries to take care of her younger sister and brother, stay invisible, and out of harm’s way when she meets a handsome young man who challenges everything she believes about the world.

Kelly’s husband makes her feel a little crazy. Can she make him happy and save her marriage? Just when Kelly falls to her knees to beg for help, the Heavens answer her cries with a storm.

Safe House, Grace in the night and a little Hart will change the way you see survivors forever, because miracles shine the brightest in life’s darkest moments.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

You could say I spent 15 to 20 years researching Safe House, in an odd way. Safe House is based on my experiences working as an advocate in a job very similar to the main character Grace’s job. However, my real job as advocate is much more complicated, messier, involving non-profit budgets, used furniture and midnight shelter toilet fixing. A job I still do part time and totally love.

I worked a cumulative 15 years responding alongside law enforcement and other community partners to the scenes of domestic assaults or the hospital to serve survivors of domestic and sexual assault. As part of my experience I managed a small team, a shelter for a short year or so, ran some trauma recovery and support groups, became an expert witness in court, trained local medical and law enforcement with a group, and took copious amounts of training…so! I guess I did a lot of research.

Unless you or someone you know is a survivor, you may have never heard the word Advocate. You may not even know what it means. We are a very secretive bunch. We are paid and trained to hide people, keep them safe and spirit them away when they are in danger and much more. Our job is keeping secrets. There is no way to give the world a peek into something I have become expert at, except through fiction. And even then, I can never share the little things that make survivors lives safer every day.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

Grace, the main character in Safe House, is an advocate who responds with handsome Officer Joe Hart to serve survivors of domestic assault. She works twenty-four hours a day to offer survivors and their children safe shelter and a way out. She is the stranger that shows up when your whole world comes crashing down and asks you to trust her and leave everything you know behind.

Grace is also a single mother trying to keep her family going. Grace’s mother Mable, one of my favorite character’s, lives in an in-law apartment in Grace’s house with her younger brother. Grace is only thirty-eight, but she is already a survivor herself and wonders if there is anyone for a clumsy, curly blond.

Grace’s talent is to be the eye of the storm. No matter what dangers swirl around her, she is calm and when you are with her you can’t help but believe that maybe, just maybe, everything is going to be alright.

What else have you written?

I began writing before most people read. I wrote poems and short stories. At 20 I tried my hand at a local poetry group. Two of my poems were published in a book called, “Utah Sings.”

And then I fell victim to the age old myth that every writer needs a day job. Setting aside my dreams, as a single mother of five, I focused solely on supporting my family. Poems still leaked out and I even wrote the lyrics for a song which is on a DVD being sold somewhere.

Not writing was painful. Gradually I took back the artistic parts of myself. Deseret Digital Media or FamilyShare.com published over a hundred of my articles. I continue to write for them. On occasion, my articles are syndicated. FamilyShare published articles I wrote under, “Belva Girls,” with my daughter Erin Oscarson.

I was privileged to write for Hilary Weeks, singer and inspirational speaker. I wrote for her special project Billionclicks.com blog for a year or so promoting the power of positive thinking.

PRAISE FOR Safe House

"Shannon seems to have the ability to grip the reader and they are brought into the story like you can fully understand each character. I found it refreshing to read and enjoy a story without curse words in every other sentence.. I hope that Shannon continues on her writing career as I cant wait for the next one. Grace was absolutely my favorite character as she was a real angel." ~ Patricia Bonner

Great book, I want to read more! The book was a page turner; keeping my interest; wondering what will happen next. I had a hard time putting it down. The characters life's have stayed with me. I want to read more about her main characters, especially Grace James. Will there be a second book? I loved the setting of a coastal town in Oregon. My eyes were opened up to a world different from my own. I was left with a desire to help and to somehow bring about the change needed to stop domestic violence." ~ Beverly G.

THE AUTHOR

Shannon worked for 15 years as an Advocate. Shannon lives in a small coastal town in Oregon where she works, writes, runs and paints. She believes the word can be changed one heart at a time and every small act makes a difference. A portion of the proceeds from the novel Safe House will be donated to the non-profit Operation Underground Railroad or OURrescue.org working to end sex trafficking and serve survivors.

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