A National Geographic article about the genome project, her retired Air Force Intelligence officer father and numerous ferry ride commutes resulted in a three e-book series by part-time San Juan Island resident Carlyn Hansen. Protecting 'Biological Eve' is the focus of Their Last Secret by Carl Hansen (she uses her dad's first name as a pseudonym).
The action ranges from World War II to the present day. A breach in the security set up by Metaphor, an underground special security organization run by a former CIA psychiatrist, and world-renown cognitive neuroscientist who is now the owner of an antique shop in Friday Harbor triggers the action. Protecting Herta, who has survived for tens of thousands of years, from those who would use her to their advantage, is the crux of the story.
Hansen's screenwriting background is evident in the book, it is very easy to visualize the action. As an undergrad, she won an Emmy Screenwriting scholarship as a result of a feature and a Magnum P.I. spec script she had written. Shortly before going back to grad school for children's progamming, she was in the top 3 percent of the most prestigious screenwriting contest in the world - Nicholl's Fellowship sponsored by Academy Awards/ AMPAS (Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences).
Some of her screenplays, posted on Inktip.com, have been downloaded and read by A-list producers - including Peter Weir and David Mamet - but so far none have made it to the screen.
She explained Their Last Secret begins with an "inciting incident" which is standard in action movies. "You are dropped into the story which is already underway," she said. "I totally want it visual, I want the reader right in it."
A review on Amazon highlights the thriller's ability to hook the reader: "I started it with the intention of putting it down, pressed by busy holiday duties, but couldn't, so I stayed up all night to finish Book One, Declassfied. Couldn't help myself...Trust me when I say I haven't enjoyed reading a well written, well researched book like this in years. Can't wait for more from Carl Hansen."
Hansen started writing the book in 2009 after leaving a nursing job on the mainland - the reason for all of the ferry commutes. She made use of those hours by reading research about the genome project.
She took several three-month-long breaks before finishing the book in the summer of 2012. It went to the e-publisher Bookbaby.com in October and was available for sale on Amazon by December 2012.
Hansen designed the book's cover after finding a public domain photograph of Eleanor Roosevelt and General Eisenhower, two of the real-life characters in the book. President Barack Obama, Michele Obama and former presidents also play a part in the story. While the action, of course, is fictitious; the science is real, Hansen said.
Hansen's work is true to the aphorism 'write what you know'. The character, Charles Larson is based on her dad who was a navigator on a B-17 in WWII and was at D-Day. Friday Harbor is featured in half of the book.
The owner of the Spring Street antique shop, Desre Elizabeth Aurora Rennick MD, PhD., has the characteristics of a friend from South Africa.
She shopped the book around to several publishers without success before deciding to go the e-book route. The reputation and quality of electronic publishing has improved in recent years with 27 of the top 100 books being e-books.
Inspiration to keep going came from a talk she attended. Jeff Bezo, the founder of Amazon, speaking about the Kindle and e-publishing said, "This gave an opportunity for all those writers, who have had their work in a drawer because no New York publisher or agent would take them on, their opportunity to go."
"I thought that was the most generous thing I have ever heard in the creative world in my life," Hansen said.
Her other inspiration was the fact the author of The Help (Kathryn Stockett) had 60 rejections by publishers before being accepted by the 61st. "I believe in the phrase 'You never know how close you are, when you are ready to quit'," Hansen said.
She has definitely paid her dues. During the past 20 years, Hansen's had a nursing career that really didn't fit, became a realtor the year before the housing crash and made yet another try at being practical. She earned a teaching certificate through Pepperdine University. "I've never taught a day in my life," she said.
One thing was constant, she never stopped writing.
Hansen worked her way through college as an RN and earned a double major in film and broadcasting. After graduating and moving to L.A. with her husband, a fellow film school graduate, she worked as an intern on the Disney lot. She moved on to work with Hollywood Pictures as Second Assistant to a head attorney.
Motherhood entered the picture. She continued to write and search for an agent. She became a script supervisor and entered contests every year.
While writing Their Last Secret, which is the first novel she's written, she worked as a writer for a nursing technology publication.
Asked about her next project, she mentions several including a WWII thriller set in Nazi-occupied France and a TV comedy series. Her main character is a reluctant parole officer - he ran out of money part way through law school. The episode titles, ala author Sue Grafton, are alphabetical. Hansen uses sayings from funny t-shirts as the titles.
The parole officer hates every minute of it, then meets a girl who loves all of her parolees. She opens a half-way house. A good way to provide a stream of characters. He actually begins detecting after he hears the parolees say, 'I did the time but didn't do the crime' ". Half the time he proves they are telling the truth.
Hansen's residency on San Juan Island is part-time because her husband, Bill Kennedy, is a best boy grip based in Los Angeles. Her son, Ryan, is a full-time San Juan Island resident. Both Bill and Ryan worked on Indiana Jones IV, Ryan as an uncredited production assistant.
All three books of the THEIR LAST SECRET trilogy are expected to be on Amazon.com May 1, 2013.