“I would have packed less if I knew I was going to die.”
Within minutes of arriving in the exotic, enigmatic, sweltering city of Marrakech, renowned author Jaspar Wills is kidnapped, blindfolded, bound, and beaten. As Wills struggles to survive the ordeal, he recounts his rise to fame and the tragic events that led him to Morocco. With the kidnapper’s demands left unmet, Wills faces death with fear, grief…and guilt. Is what happened in the past tied to his abduction? Is someone he loves responsible? Or is this payback for his sins? Living with a loss far greater than his own death, Jaspar yearns to be set free. But do some kinds of freedom come at too high a cost?
Six months later, struggling reporter Katie Edwards travels to Morocco to stake her claim on the story with everything—international intrigue, mystery, celebrity, violence, sex, heartbreak, betrayal. Once there, she discovers a shocking truth. As the young journalist’s career soars, Jaspar Wills’ is destroyed…until an act of revenge leads to a stunning revelation that will change everything.
In 2012 I was turning 50. In the year leading up to the milestone, I came up with the idea to mark the occasion by planning a solo getaway, no holds barred, sky was the limit. This of course immediately put a great deal of pressure on me to figure out what the experience should be. After all, when, in our adult lives, do we get a week or two to do exactly what we want to do, wherever we want to do it?
I thought of spa vacations, the beach, maybe a food and wine tour. Eventually I hit on the idea of visiting Morocco, specifically Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains. Marrakech is undoubtedly not for everyone. This is a city with edge. It is contradictory and not easily fathomed, but for many who visit, that is all part of its elusive charm. It was as exotic a place as any I’d ever been to, my spouse had no desire to visit there, and with French and Arabic the official languages, I knew this would be the perfect place for a challenging adventure.
An adventure it was. At times daunting, occasionally maddening, always exhilarating, Marrakech is all about getting lost, letting go and opening up to whatever experience or encounter comes your way.
The sights and sounds and smells of that trip are still with me today. The experience inspired many of the scenes and story lines in Set Free.
Click below to see the video trailer for my hometown launch of Set Free, Thursday, September 29, 2016, McNally Robinson Booksellers, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.