The Inspiration Behind Saigon Dark — By Elka Ray

The Inspiration Behind Saigon Dark — By Elka Ray post thumbnail image

What inspired your work-in-progress?

My last book, Saigon Dark, is psychological suspense, set in Vietnam, where I now live. I’m currently working on another suspense novel, tentatively called Blackmore Bay, set in the area where I grew up, on the West Coast of Canada.

Both stories feature female leads who behave in ways that are morally questionable. In Saigon Dark, a grief-stricken mother makes a rash decision that requires her to live a lie. Blackmore Bay revolves around an ER nurse, Milla, who’s also got things to hide.

The idea for the story came to me about two years ago, when my family left Saigon, a city of ten million where we’d lived for a decade, and moved to a small fishing village by the beach in Central Vietnam. We were building a house there, which was supposedly “almost done”, although when it came time to move, our new house had neither walls nor a roof.

In desperation, we rented a tiny fishermen’s shack. It had three tiny, dark rooms, a tin roof, moldy walls, and no glass in the windows. It was like living in a National Geographic video – at night, bugs would fall from the ceiling. We shared the place with rats, mice, frogs, cockroaches, crabs and giant spiders.

My husband was still commuting back and forth to the city, leaving me alone with two small kids in this isolated shack. It felt like one day I was living a comfortable urban existence and the next I was camping. My architect husband kept insisting our new house was “almost finished”.

This led to the character of Milla, an ER nurse, who, following several miscarriages, decides to leave Vancouver and move to the small island where her husband Blake grew up. She’s been keeping secrets from Blake and figures she’ll face less stress in the country.

The couple buys a big old house and starts to renovate it, but the project drags on and on. While Milla grows anxious, Blake seems curiously unbothered by the lack of progress.

Isolated on this remote island, Milla starts to uncover unsettling secrets about their new house and its links to Rosie Jack, a former classmate of Blake’s who disappeared in high school and was deemed a runaway. The more Milla learns about Rosie, the more she suspects foul play.

While Milla’s in for a rough time, luckily, my own story had a happy ending. It took some time to adjust to country life but I’m glad we persevered. We live 30 seconds from a great tropical beach. I swim almost daily. My husband surfs. We’ve made lots of interesting friends and the kids are constantly outdoors. Best of all, six months ago we moved into our new house – and it’s gorgeous.


© 2017, Elka Ray. All rights reserved.

Elka Ray

Elka Ray lives with her family near the beach in Central Vietnam. You can learn more about her work at Elka's latest suspense novel, "Saigon Dark", was recently released by Crime Wave Press.

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