Eva Lombard can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. Even while on a romantic getaway to Hong Kong with her husband Pete, something feels off. When Pete wakes one morning in their hotel to an empty bed and a missing wife, it seems that Eva was right to be worried. Suddenly, Pete finds himself the number one suspect in his wife's disappearance, trapped in a foreign country with no one to turn to. He calls on the CEO of his investment firm, Forrest "Holly" Holcomb, who enlists the help of his ex-flame, Catherine, the enigmatic operator behind the darknet witness protection program known as The Burial Society.
As a favor to Holly, Catherine sends her team of highly trained Society members on a thrilling mission through Hong Kong to find Eva—while she takes care of pressing business at home. Not only is Catherine tasked with protecting a family that knows too much from a vengeful pharmaceutical company, a mission that takes her to Mexico City, but an FBI agent tracking down the missing wife and child of a charismatic developer comes dangerously close to exposing the Society's secrets.
In these intertwining storylines that converge in unexpected ways, not everyone is who they appear to be—and not everyone who is lost wants to be found.
How do you organize your writing time when you are juggling many projects at once?
That is an excellent question! And one I sometimes ask myself. But all kidding aside, I think that years of producing has taught me to be both brutally time efficient and to also be always thinking ahead. So for example, when I knew I had multiple deadlines facing me this past August, I started working on all of the projects way in advance and set targets for myself for when certain steps needed to be completed. I also always outline my writing projects now, which makes my actual writing time more effective. With an outline if I have a spare hour, I can dive into the work and know exactly what section I need to execute.
Any promotional and marketing tips for new writers?
I'm learning, but happy to share the tips I've picked up! I launched my monthly newsletter, "Dispatches From the Cheerfully Dark Mind of Nina Sadowsky," a couple of years ago after learning that newsletters and in-person events were two of the most effective ways to build audience loyalty. So I go anywhere I am asked. In the Dispatch, I offer work updates, writing tips and behind-the-scene Hollywood info, recommend filmed content, and promote news stories I think will be of interest, as well as the work of fellow authors and filmmakers. You can subscribe here. I've also collaborated with my publisher to run promotional drawings in connection with my book releases; for The Burial Society we gave away a trip to Paris! But let me be clear, even though I'm with a big publisher who supported this promotion, I was the one to source the prize and offer it to them for the promotion. I've also invested some of my own money in swag (tote bags, lens cloths, candles, notepads, etc.) branded with my cover art. I give these promo items out when I speak at a conference or attend a book club. Judging by the excited reaction to the lens cloths at Thrillerfest this year, there will be copycats next year!
When you get up in the morning, what makes you want to keep on writing and tell a story?
Humans. I'm endlessly fascinated by the/us. What makes us connect. What keeps us distanced from one another? Why do we do the amazing, perverse, extraordinary and bizarre things we do? I am firmly rooted in the core belief that we are more alike than we are different, but yet as a race we seem to be in perpetual conflict. Writing is my way of puzzling out this contradiction.
Lastly, tell us about your recent book.
THE EMPTY BED (pub date 1/28/20) is the second thriller in my Burial Society series (although both books can be read as stand alones). The series revolves around Catherine, a mysterious chameleon with a dark past who runs a private witness protection program, helping the most desperate among us-- abused women, whistleblowers, etc., find safe new lives. I like to say she is my bad ass avatar. While I go to marches and sign petitions for what I believe in, Catherine goes into the world and extracts justice and vengeance.
And now, an excerpt from The Empty Bed:
Needles and Pins
Catherine, Wheeless, Oklahoma
The view outside the tattered vinyl window shade is of endless scrub with the occasional ramshackle structure dotted out into the distance, each of them weather beaten and in various states of collapse. The shack in which we’re staying isn’t much better than the buildings on the horizon; it consists of three rooms, two narrow bedrooms and an open living/dining/cooking area. There’s one bathroom off the kitchen, with a shower that provides only the thinnest of trickles and a toilet that runs incessantly despite how often I jiggle the handle.
The furniture, a generous term at best for the leftovers that fill the dreary place, suits its housing. An ancient, lumpy sofa wheezes dust and is graced with a remarkably ugly crochet blanket in squares of avocado green and lemon yellow. A scratched block of raw wood serves as a coffee table. An ancient Formica-topped dining table is crowded with six mismatched chairs. The single beds in their cramped rooms are stiff and unyielding, the closets dusty and home to spiders. The power is turned off and I’m keeping it that way. We rely on minimal candles and flashlights at night. There’s no luxury here, but it’s safe.
We’re outside the tiny town of Wheeless, Oklahoma, in the midst of a desolate expanse of the Cimarron Panhandle. One of the least populated areas of the state, we’ve been able to hole up here with no one the wiser. In every direction there is sheer… nothing. I’d filled the joint up with supplies long before we ever arrived here, “just in case;” we’ve been subsisting off canned food and bottled water for two days.
We’re waiting. I’m as edgy and impatient as the people I’m protecting.
I turn away from the window. Stephen and Lisa Harris sit next to one another on the lumpy sofa, shoulders touching, hands clasped. Their son Finn nestles in on the floor against his mother’s legs and hums softly as he plays with a Nintendo Gameboy, peaceful for the time being.
The yearning of these parents to be reunited with their daughter is a palpable miasma filling the room. It creeps into the corners and the eaves, sucking away the light.
One of my burner phones trills. Steve and Lisa start anxiously in unison, as if their nervous systems are hardwired together.
I answer. It’s Stephanie. She confirms our plane is on its way to our predetermined rendezvous point. She also brings word that the relocated wife who brought us the information on Knox is safely out of the country. This is all fine news. But it’s not the news for which the Harrises are hungry.
I ring off. “No word yet,” I tell them. "Don’t worry. They’re on their way.”
Disappointment slingshots through both of them, their bodies droop. Lisa strokes Finn’s hair, her eyes wet.
I’ve known fear. I understand loss, and have suffered more of it in my life than most. Still, I’ve never been a parent praying my child is alive. What can I understand about their anxiety?
About Nina Sadowsky:
A New York City native, Nina R. Sadowsky is an entertainment lawyer (in recovery) who has worked as a film and television producer and writer for most of her career.
Her debut thriller, Just Fall, was published by Ballantine in March 2016. Her second novel, The Burial Society, was published in 2018, and is the first of a series, with The Empty Bed due January 28th, 2020. Her books have been translated into German, Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese, Turkish and Serbian. Both published novels are in development for television.
She has written numerous original screenplays and adaptations and done rewrites for such companies as The Walt Disney Company, Working Title Films, and Lifetime Television.
Sadowsky also wrote, directed and produced the short film, “The First Year’s A Bitch,” a darkly funny take on the first year of marriage, starring Christine Taylor and John Livingston, which was featured in numerous film festivals, and which won the award for best editing at the New York Short Film Festival.
She served as President of Production for Signpost Films, a film financier and foreign distributor, where she worked on such projects as the Academy Award nominated “The House of Sand and Fog,” starring Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley.
Prior to joining Signpost, she served as President of Meg Ryan's Prufrock Pictures for over five years. During her tenure, Prufrock landed first look feature deals with Fox 2000 and Castle Rock Entertainment and an overall long-form television deal with Polygram/Universal Television.
Sadowsky served as executive producer for the hit film “The Wedding Planner,” starring Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey for Intermedia and Sony, produced “Desert Saints,” an independent film starring Kiefer Sutherland which premiered on Cinemax, produced the supernatural thriller, “Lost Souls,” which marked the directorial debut of Academy Award winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminsky for New Line Cinema, produced the telefilm “Northern Lights,” starring Diane Keaton for The Disney Channel, and served as executive producer for the animated half hour comedy pilot, “Quints” for UPN. She also produced “Jumpin' at the Boneyard” starring Tim Roth, Jeffrey Wright and Samuel L. Jackson for executive producer Lawrence Kasdan and Twentieth Century Fox, which was featured in the Sundance, Montreal and Torino film festivals.
She also currently serves as Program Director for NYU Los Angeles, a "semester abroad" program geared toward advanced undergraduate students considering careers in the entertainment and media industries. Prior to joining NYU, Sadowsky served as part-time faculty at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts program for over a decade, teaching both writing and producing. Her students have been the recipients of many awards and accolades including best scripted series at the College Television Awards, inclusion in the Cannes Film Festival Shorts Corner, and the student Academy Award.
Sadowsky is a member of International Thrillers Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Humanitas’ Prize’s Woolfpack, (an organization of women writers, directors, producers and showrunners) and Creative Future’s Leadership Committee. She also serves as Director of Educational outreach for The Humanitas Prize and co-leads the Woolfpack sponsored screenwriting lab at Hedgebrook.
Sadowsky graduated cum laude from Connecticut College with a major in dance and a minor in creative writing, and in the top 10% of her class from The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where she served as Articles Editor for the Arts and Entertainment Law Journal.
Thank you, Nina!
To purchase The Empty Bed and other books by Nina, click the link below: