No One Heard Her Scream
Story Behind the Story
In fiction, it's easy to create a world or a location in your imagination, to bring it to life for the reader. In the case of No One Heard Her Scream, I already had an amazing city to use as the backdrop for the plot, so it became important to do this city justice.
This story became not only my debut novel, but it held special significance since San Antonio is where I grew up. Welcome to my hometown!
In No One Heard Her Scream, the burned down Imperial Theatre once had a grand past and held special memories for Detective Becca Montgomery. The theatre described in the novel is actually an historic site in San AntonioThe Majestic Theatre. It still exists and earns its name.
This theatre held many special memories for me as wellmemories of my grandparents. They spent time with their grandkids here. A fond memory indeed.
As you can see, words don't do it justice.
Mi Tierra's Café
Detective Becca Montgomery and Lieutenant Arturo Santiago met for a clandestine breakfast at Mi Tierra's Café in downtown San Antonio. They ate in the back room that has an interesting 3-D mural on a long wall. And as you can see by the photo, it's Christmas year round. Great Food!
From Mi Tierra's, the Riverwalk is an easy stroll or you can stay and shop the Mercado.
Photo credit: Rita Short
Mi Tierra's Café
This is another place I can be found on my visits to this beautiful city. When Santa Claus comes to town, he eats Mexican food. Who wants cookies and milk when you can have a steaming bowl of menudo?
Photo credit: Rita Short
An excerpt from No One Heard Her Scream: The sweet smell of baked goods lingered in the air as Becca walked by lighted display cases brimming with an array of pastries and Mexican candy. The hostess had called her number. A young girl dressed in a white lacy blouse and colorful print skirt ushered Becca through the narrow aisles. Wait staff and bus boys darted across her path, a mad game of restaurant dodge ball.
A sea of Christmas lights and tinsel draped from the ceiling, a festival year round. All the glitz and glitter came from an absurd collection of Christmas paraphernalia and rainbow colored light bulbs, the café's trademark decor. And the vibrant sound of a Mariachi band resounded through the sprawling restaurant, a refrain of Cielito Lindo. A high-pitched violin blended with a heart-thumping trumpet. And strong vocals were heard over the heavy strum of guitars as the musicians strolled from table to table.
Lieutenant Santiago had picked this place on purpose, knowing audio surveillance would be impossible.
Night Skyline of San Antonio
I grew up in San Antonio and I'm very proud of that fact. The city celebrates its many cultures and has an impressive history. I had always wanted to stage a story here. So when my Hispanic hero began to stir in my head, where else would I tell that story?
The city of San Antonio at night.
Casa Rio Restaurant
Detective Becca Montgomery lives on the Riverwalk in No One Heard Her Screamnot far from the Casa Rio restaurant pictured here with the water barges that drift down the river.
There is a rooftop garden apartment I had seen from an old friend's condo across the river. I always loved that little place and wanted Becca to live there. In fiction, these things can happen. Whoever lives in this great location is one lucky human being.
An excerpt from No One Heard Her Scream: Adrift on the cool breeze was the faint smell of the river. The earthy essence of stale humidity mixed with the lingering aroma of fajitas, a gift from the Casa Rio restaurant. She opened her eyes to glance toward the river bend. At this hour, festive lights shimmered along the water and made a dramatic silhouette of the weeping bowers of Cypress trees. From a nearby club, a muffled voice on a microphone announced last call and the jazz band began its final short set. She knew the drill and listened to every note, letting time sift through her fingers like sand.
Riverwalk at Night
I wrote about the beautiful Riverwalk mainly in the nighttime setting for fiction reasons, but you can see how warm and inviting it actually is. It's even better to see it in person, of course.
Romantic images were not hard to imagine in a setting like this.
When Detective Becca Montgomery was driving down the busy street of General McMullen in Chapter Three, she had a sudden craving for a great little restaurant Taqueria Vallarta. I know how she felt. When I'm in San Antonio, you'll find me indulging that craving with my family. Great food and reasonable prices!
Taqueria Vallarta is a hive of activity on General McMullen. Look for the full parking lot and turn in. There's always room for one more.
General McMullen Images
At the top of Chapter Three, Becca describes the busy street and the neighborhood. These are old familiar stomping grounds. Becca loved this neighborhood and so do I.
An excerpt from No One Heard Her Scream: Becca headed west on General McMullen, a bustling six-lane thoroughfare. A place where men still stood on busy street corners hawking newspapers, taking their lives in their hands to peddle bad news. Businesses along the way were mostly converted houses painted in vivid reds, yellows, and electric blues. In the light of day, the paint colors could do some serious damage to perfectly good eyeballs if a person stared too long. Now with the sun on a downward spiral, the boulevard would soon blaze in neon and the nightshift rabble would scurry from their hiding places on party patrol.
Under the heading of surreal, churches wedged between bars, tattoo parlors, and tarot card readersan eclectic hodgepodge of vice and redemption offered up in one locale. Yet despite the rough nature of this neighborhood, a steady vitality pulsed through the district like blood coursing through an artery.
In the neighborhood behind Taqueria Vallarta, I placed the small but tidy fictional home of Rudy Marquez, his mother Hortense and his older brother, Father Victor Marquez.
Isabel Marquez used to live in the family home and was very fond of her brother Rudy.
Out of respect for families living here, I did not try to describe an exact location, but these photos will give you an idea how I pictured the Marquez home in my mind.
An excerpt from No One Heard Her Scream: A chain link fence bordered patches of green in front of the Marquez place. Weeds and dandelions had locked horns with what remained of the St. Augustine grass. Yard work and house repairs were low on the family's list of priorities. They had enough on their minds. With casebook and pen in hand, Becca stepped inside the cyclone fence and clanked the gate shut behind her.
Yellow ribbons made of plastic fluttered in the breeze, tied to a scrawny mesquite tree. A reminder of the family's loss. A stone shrine stood near the cement front stoop with a ceramic statue of the Virgin Mary gazing down, arms outstretched. Placed under rocks to hold them in place, laminated photos of Isabel had weathered and were lying at the foot of the sculpturea sad memorial.
For a long moment, Becca stared at the grotto, wanting to pray. But the words wouldn't come.
San Fernando Cemetery & Cathedral
At the end of No One Heard Her Scream, a funeral takes place. I staged this at the historical San Fernando Cemetery at the corner of Castroville Road and General McMullen. The cemetery is affiliated with the historic San Fernando Cathedral in downtown San Antoniopart of the missions and one of the first parish churches in Texas. The cathedral was built during the early 1700s and has a distinguished history. For me, it holds special significance. My parents and grandparents were married in the cathedral.
And my grandparents are buried at the San Fernando Cemetery, so I have visited many times over the years. It never ceases to amaze me how my Hispanic culture reveres the dead. Every holiday, family members decorate gravesites and pay respect and commemorate those who came before. It's a beautiful tribute.
Happy birthday, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! Can you feel the love?
An excerpt from No One Heard Her Scream: And the sun reflected off the glittery offerings left at other grave markers. To honor the dead, tinsel and baubles danced and fluttered in the breeze. A sea of loving mementos, the striking image never failed to touch Becca. Whole families often spent Sunday afternoons at the cemetery, bringing small children and picnic lunchesa celebration of the lives that came before. Here, the departed are never forgotten.
I hope you enjoy touring my hometown of San Antonio in the pages of No One Heard Her Scream. Even now, I love to imagine Becca and Diego making a home on the Riverwalk in that charming little rooftop garden apartment, listening to the last strains of a jazz band playing down river.
Excerpt from No One Heard Her Scream: The sounds outside her window died down to a muffled thump, a jazz band nearing last call. And the dregs of city traffic noise had been reduced to a vague notion carried on the wind. The familiar cacophony gave her comfort.
Breathing in the seductive smell of Diego's skin, Becca looked out her window. She watched the Cypress trees dance under the colorful lights off the Riverwalk, stirred by the winter breeze. She always wanted to remember this moment, when she knew her heart belonged to him.