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  • Writer's pictureKelly Romo

Behind DEAD DRIFT: Writing on the Fly

Which came first? The fly fishing or the thriller? And how I came up with the title.


I came up with the idea for DEAD DRIFT while on a fly fishing/hiking/sightseeing road trip. The first little spark happened while driving through a little railroad town along the Columbia River called Wishram. It is on the Washington side of the river and only has a population of about 350. I have no idea why it came to me in Wishram or why I remember it so vividly, but it did, and I do.

The setting and ideas developed as we continued on into Maupin, Oregon, a whitewater rafting town where we watched rafts going through rapids on the Deschutes River. I describe my two characters, Emmy and Amber, driving through the town of Maupin in my novel. My fictional town of Lodell is based on Maupin, but I didn't want to bring any bad juju on Maupin by setting it there.

Who needs waders when you have short shorts and rubber boots?


Titles are tough for me. At one point, DEAD DRIFT had the working titles of DROWNING TOWN and DROWN ME LIKE A RIVER. I liked DROWN ME LIKE A RIVER because it reminds me of the Bishop Briggs song, RIVER. I never felt good about DROWNING TOWN, but it served its purpose while writing.

I ended up going with DEAD DRIFT. I like how it sounds, plus it is a fly fishing term. The serial killer in my novel is a fly fisherman. The term "dead drift" in fly fishing is where your fly floats down the river naturally without any artificial drag from your line or tippet. It is incredibly challenging to do. If there is any tension, it is not a true dead drift and does not appear natural to the fish. I thought that fit perfectly since the serial killer in my novel is a fly fisherman. He also drowns, then releases his victims into the river (that is not a spoiler since the prologue and occasional chapters are from the killer's point of view).

Fishing with a lab isn't all it's cracked up to be.


The answer to my riddle is: The fly fishing came before the thriller. Although...learning to tie my own flies came after I decided to have my serial killer tie a single strand of his victims' hair into each of his flies.


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Kelly Romo

Welcome to my blog. I am an author, educator, outdoorswoman, and mom. I write historical fiction and thrillers. 

I hope you will follow my blog and check out my novels.

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