Working in homeless shelters is an experience that stays with you

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I love to find out how authors come up with ideas to write their books. Today I’m featuring Alicia Singleton, author of Dark Side of Valor.

The inspiration for Dark Side of Valor came from a news article of a woman’s plight to return to her country after being kidnapped and taken to a foreign land. To start the plotting, Alicia began to research runaways from foreign lands. Every time she typed in the search parameters, books, reports and articles popped up about teen runaways and homeless teens. “After several hours,” Alicia says, “I gave up and read one of the articles, then another, then a report, then a life account. After about an hour, I was sitting in front of the library computer blubbering. As I finished reading, Dark Side of Valor morphed into another novel and Lelia Freeman, the heroine was born.”

Alicia said that years ago during her nursing clinicals, they were required to nurse in homeless shelters. “It’s an experience that stays with you,” she says. “What I didn’t realize is that 1.3 million homeless teens and youth live on the streets of the United States each day. 1.6 to 2.8 youth and teens in the U.S. runaway each year. Many Americans don’t know these statistics. Before I began to do research, I had no idea that so many youth are homeless in the U.S.”

To make the homeless teen characters in the novel realistic, she interviewed shelter directors, researched life accounts of runaway and homeless teens and talked to directors of organizations that aid that population. The atrocities that homeless teens and runaways endure on the streets are horrific. “The hardest part of writing Dark Side of Valor,” she says, “was tempering the graphic details of their lives while being true to their plight.”

After completing the research on homeless teens and runaways, Alicia began to research the remaining plot and says the crazy stuff she uncovered was fascinating.

“I found myself lost in a world of mercenaries, the Sudan, its people and their plight, the jungles of Zaire as well a various tribes, their ways of life, their daily activities and how to bring down a helicopter without having the pilot lost total control of the aircraft,” she says. “Dark Side of Valor didn’t start out the way it ended up, but I learned a valuable lesson along the journey. Sometimes taking a different path from the one you planned is a good thing.”

If you’d like to find out more about Alicia and her book, visit her website at


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