I began writing Nothing Hidden while researching for my college thesis (similar to Madalyn in the story) on the harms of commonly-used drugs among college students. Although fictional, the designer drug in this book, which mimics a strong LSD high, is a close representation of actual synthetic drugs that have been created in the United Kingdom and the United States. During my research for this novel, I discovered that the poor, lower-class, and homeless populations are often targeted as guinea pics while the drug is still in production phase. In light of the extreme and bizarre new synthetic drugs that are being developed by unknown chemists on a daily basis in the United States and overseas, readers will be drawn in to the storyline of a designer drug that quickly ravages the East Coast and the small-town corruption that allows for its existence to continue.
Research for this book eventually led me to a chat room where users are allowed to discuss drug use in a "safe environment." Honestly, it was chilling to be a part of the conversations. I was assigned a random username, which was set to a timer to change automatically, masking my identity. Although the site's "user guidelines" did not encourage discussing illicit drug use, there was clearly no monitoring of the content. In one scene in my novel, you'll see Madalyn entering a chat room to lure out her sister's dealer. Some of the language used in the chat room exchange is taken from actual chats I was a part of.
From the first page of Nothing Hidden, a Colombian child soldier is introduced and interwoven throughout the book, revealing the past—as well as modern-day—dangers of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Many years ago, I came across an article in a magazine detailing the daily life of the FARC. Their guerrilla warfare-style operations and survival skills in the jungles immediately intrigued me (especially since my dad fought in the Infantry in Panama and jungle stories were already a favorite). I thought, Someone needs to write a book about this. So I began penning my villains into a different story (one that I never finished). Years later, I revisited the research, pulling from old drafts and revising. The child soldier's story in Nothing Hidden is touched on infrequently, leaving readers guessing how the storylines will tie in.