By Susan Israel
Delilah is accustomed to people seeing her naked. As a nude model – a gig that keeps food on the table while her career as a sculptor takes off – it comes with the territory.
But Delilah has never before felt this vulnerable.
Because Delilah has an admirer. Someone who is paying a great deal of attention to her. And he just might love her to death.
The debut of a shockingly fresh voice in suspense fiction, OVER MY LIVE BODY will work its way inside of you.
What inspired you to write this book?
One day out of the blue I started writing what would turn out to be Over My Live Body. I was modeling for art classes at Yale at the time and so I felt my main character, Delilah Price, who was also modeling to support herself while striving to be a sculptor, was a kindred spirit. (Except I made her younger and taller) I never outlined; I was a seat-of-your-pants writer, basically writing the same amount every day, about the same time of day, sometimes more, sometimes less. My wad of pages grew thicker and boosted my confidence. A story was taking shape, the story of a young woman who, through no fault of her own, became the object of unwanted affection which escalated from annoyance to mortal danger.
I immersed myself in Delilah's world and my background "music" was the world of 24/7 news radio, which provided its own noir inspiration. I'd been held up at gunpoint years earlier and this may have set me off on my life of crime- crime-writing, that is. I still modeled for art classes and a friend once asked me how I would feel if I went to someone's house and saw a painting I'd posed for hanging over their fireplace. No, I never experienced that, but in an opening scene I let my character Delilah wonder that very thing:
I look up, annoyed. There’s no way I can be in anyone’s way, scrunched up as I am in this seat near the back of the bus. There’s hardly anyone on board now. I expect it to be some street beggar who’s going to try to shake me down for spare change; they’re everywhere now, even on mass transit. The mayor’s pledge to clean up the streets has only made them pop up and multiply in other places, like random phantoms in a computer game gone amok.
I look up at him. He’s staring at me. This is no street beggar, just some guy wearing a Grateful Dead T-shirt and indigo jeans splotched with white blobs that stand out much more than he does. “What do you want?”
“Oh...I’m sorry,” he mumbles. “I thought you were somebody...”
I am somebody.
“...somebody I knew. You look familiar.” He hoists a dirty green backpack and slings it over his shoulder, nearly hitting me with it. “Sorry.”
He sits splay-legged across from me and stares. I turn around and look out the window at the flash of brightly lit storefronts along Seventh Avenue. I must look familiar to quite a lot of people. I wonder how many people in this city have drawn or painted or sculpted me over the last two and a half years, uptown, downtown, all around the town. And across the river even. Hundreds. How many people have seen me nude, contorted this way or that, plus or minus five pounds, with and without a tan. Maybe this slightly strung-out looking guy is one of them, he could very easily be one of them. I’d never recognize him, but surely he would recognize me, especially if he’d seen all of me. How many guys who smile at me on the street are smiling knowingly or just because they’d like to know me?
I wonder if this guy has a sketch book in that grungy backpack, if there are pictures he’s drawn of me in there. How many pictures of me are out there and where are they? Are there some yellowed and curled, stored in the back of some struggling artist’s newsprint pad with all the other sketches of all the other models he or she has ever drawn, or matted and framed and displayed in a hallway or study or bedroom?
That was Ivan’s take on it. One man’s ‘fine art’ is another man’s jerk- off material.
I shrug it off. Ivan has made me paranoid. With just cause.
You’re not going to brush me off that easily. It’s not like I wasn’t warned a few nights ago.
The next stop is mine. I go down the three stairs at the exit and have to give the door a shove to make it open. The brisk air sends a chill up my spine. I turn down the corner at Waverly Place and go up the steps leading to my building, sidestepping the concrete flowerpot on the top stoop as I fumble for my keys. The minute I’ve unlocked the second door, the one with the beveled glass window you can’t see through, and step inside, I know I’m in trouble. Someone vaults down the stairs two at a time and grabs my arm. Anyone in the building would recognize him immediately and not question what he was doing here and he knows it. No one else would suspect what I might be in for. He looks so upstanding. He could have been waiting here for hours in his jeans and Brooks Brothers shirt and no one would think anything of it. He probably was. “I want in, Delilah.” Ivan’s voice is a deep guttural growl.
Meet the Author
Susan Israel lives in Connecticut with her beloved dog, but New York City lives in her heart and mind. A graduate of Yale College, her fiction has been published in Other Voices, Hawaii Review and Vignette and she has written for magazines, websites and newspapers, including Glamour, Girls Life, Ladies Home Journal and The Washington Post. She's currently at work on the second book in the Delilah Price series, Student Bodies.