Stolen Lives

Hiam Mondini

Book Cover

GENRE

SUSPENSE/THRILLER CRIME

    Core Theme

    GOOD VS EVIL

    TIME PERIOD

    2000s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    BLINDSPOT; THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT; YOU; THE SINNER

    CHARACTER LIST

    FRANK: 55-70. LEAD. MORAL AND DETERMINED.

    JASMIN/LINDA: 35-45. THE AMNESIAC WOMAN FRANK SETS OUT TO HELP, WHOSE BACKSTORY SHAPES HIS LIFE GOING FORWARD.

    SUSIE: 60-75. ADVENTUROUS HOSPITAL RECEPTIONIST WHO BECOMES A FAST FRIEND TO FRANK AND EVENTUALLY TO JASMIN/LINDA.

    ROBERTO: 35-45. JASMIN/LINDA’S HUSBAND WHO IS PURPOSELY INJURED BY SIMON AND HIDDEN AWAY SO NO ONE CAN LEARN THE TRUTH.

    SIMON: 35-45. CRAZED FRIEND OF ROBERTO’S WHO’S IN LOVE WITH HIM AND STEALS HIS AND JASMIN/LINDA’S BABY.

    KENNETH: 35-45. FRANK’S SON WHO HELPS HIM TAKE CARE OF JASMIN/LINDA AND LATER TRACK DOWN ROBERTO AND SIMON.

    Logline

    A film superstar finds a bloodied body washed up on the beach. Over the course of three installations he and his son clash with the muddied past life of a woman, the survivor from the beach. Together they unravel the mystery and shame that surrounds each of their stolen lives.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 35-54,18-34,55+

    Target Gender: Universal,Female Leaning

    Setting

    New York / Switzerland / Mexico and Scotland

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: BoD in Germany

    Year Published: 2018

    Starting Description

    When Jasmin finally gets pregnant she soon learns that she is also diagnosed with breast cancer. Simultaneously, the story describes the finding of a bloodied body mangled and unidentifiable woman on the beach by a runner. In the hospital, the victim has no recollection of her past life.

    Ending Description

    Consequently two stories come together leading them across the world and encountering new friends and danger all along the way. In the end the woman meets her stolen daughter, all mysterious questions are answered, and she wakes up. This thriller was all just a dream.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    Information not completed

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Twist

    Plot - Premise

    Tragedy

    Main Character Details

    Name: Frank Conley

    Age: 55-70

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Masculine,Charming,Sexy,Leader,Heroic,Strong Moral Code,Gracious,Honorable,Faithful,Engaging,Empathetic,Aspiring,Adventurous,Flexible,Confident,Selfless,Sophisticated

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Jasmin, Linda Steiner

    Age: 35-45

    Gender: Female

    Role: Emotional

    Key Traits: Educated,Visionary,Engaging,Faithful,Gracious,Sophisticated,Secretive,Modest,Complex

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Susan (Susie) Manders

    Age: 60-75

    Gender: Female

    Role: sidekick

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Clumsy,Charming,Crazy,Uneducated,Funny,Faithful,Engaging,Empathetic,Honorable,Sarcastic,Strong Moral Code,Confident,Flexible,Selfless,Outspoken

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Simon Zimmermann

    Age: 35-45

    Gender: Lgbt

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Masculine,Badass,Aggressive,Charming,Sexy,Criminal,Desperate,Heartthrob,Educated,Unapologetic,Lone Wolf

    Development Pitch

    Stolen Lives is a fast paced, changing thriller with a hint of humor that keeps the audience/reader at the edge of the seat. Finding a bloodied body washed up on a beach does not typically lead to friendship and adventure. But when film superstar Frank Conley goes for a jog one morning, this is exactly the change that is ushered in. Over the course of three stunning installations, Frank and his successful son Kenneth, now a top lawyer and professor, clash with the muddied past life of Jasmine, the Swiss survivor from the beach. In the hospital, the victim has no recollection of her past life. Through this tragic incident, she discovers that her still unborn baby has been stolen. Frank faces his own conflicts. Should he further help her? Together they unravel the mystery and shame that surrounds each of their stolen lives, leading them across the world and encountering new friends and danger all along the way. Stolen Lives will attract readers that especially like short and fast paced page turners. The story line touches on women’s fiction, but it is also a dual narrative, crime thriller with complex characters and a touch of humor. SL would be a thrilling cliffhanger TV Series that will keep the viewer biting their nails. This thriller is composed of vastly unique characters each possessing the flaws and noble aspects that drive them on in adventure. This story is made to be experienced and felt by the widest of audiences, creating lasting bonds in all who partake.

    Genre

    THRILLER, DRAMA

    Brief

    A world famous movie star stumbles across a dying woman with amnesia on a beach, leading him down a twisting path where he must protect her while trying to uncover her identity. Her baby has been taken from her, and once she has her memory back they race to track down the man who did this to her. They think they find her baby, only to find out later that the villain got away with their child and the girl they’ve been raising isn’t biologically theirs. They must find him again ten years later, in the hopes he’ll lead them to their real daughter.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    Overall the book profile represents the three book series well. The only things that stands out as inaccurate are Simon’s gender being listed as “Lgbt” and the suggestion that this would be female-leaning. It would likely be a male-leaning thriller as Frank is the primary protagonist.

    Draw of Story

    The way the story is told in the first book is strikingly effective. It’s split between Frank’s current perspective and Jasmine’s from the past, and for a little while the audience isn’t aware that Jasmine is Frank’s Jane Doe from the beach. This is compelling storytelling, and it works so well in Part I. The reveal that Jasmine and Linda are one in the same could be held back for even longer, too. It’s obvious pretty early on, and hiding that more could be successful.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The writing is a bit amateurish at times, and it just doesn’t feel like a professional showing. It switches from from third person perspective in Frank’s chapters to first person in Jasmine/Linda’s, which is unnecessarily confusing. This is made even more unclear as later in the first book (and in the other two books), there are even more characters’ perspectives. Epithets are commonly used instead of character names, which isn’t recommended. This is an example from Part II: “The big strong man, visibly shaken, pulls the little Mexican woman close to him and looks into her face with concern, wiping away her first tears” (235). Nothing is gained by not using character names, and describing characters in this way is clunky and awkward. Nothing new is being revealed. We know Simon is big and strong, we know Rosalia is Mexican. Referring to characters in this way is very confusing, because the audience has to figure out who is being referred to. The same goes for using character surnames, when they’re normally referred to by their given names. This happens frequently in Part III. Polishing the series overall would help for a cleaner read.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The mystery aspect in Part I coupled with the dual storytelling is a great hook. Visiting new countries in Parts II and III is also interesting, and it’s easy to see how those would draw in an audience in a film or TV trailer alone.

    Fanbase Potential

    A thriller is unlikely to garner a very large fanbase purely because it’s not the genre to typically enjoy one. A well-made thriller could have devoted fans, though, and be very successful.

    Awards Potential

    Due to the genre, it’s unlikely this would have awards potential. That said, it could if it was refocused and told from Jasmine/Linda’s perspective. Were that the case, it could garner attention from A-List actors to play her, who could then be nominated for their portrayal.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    BLINDSPOT; THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT ; YOU; THE SINNER

    What’s New About the Story

    The structure in Part I is original, and it would work so well for the first act or even first half of a film, or the first few episodes of a TV show. Jasmine/Linda’s years long search for her child is also unique, and sticking tighter to that storyline could be really successful. Currently it’s somewhat lost between Part II and Part III, where a lot of time passes that the audience only gets to hear about after the fact. Not letting the audience experience this first hand could be a mistake.

    Lead Characters

    The character of Jasmine/Linda is a missed opportunity in the books. Everything happens to her, rather than because of her. She has no agency, and she has a very small role in the grand scheme of things. Building her into being a true co-lead with Frank, or even the main lead, would go a long way toward bettering the whole series. She is largely only the damsel in distress right now, and she’s barely in the story at all after Part I. This is especially odd as the story is originally told in part from her perspective. She is the one who great violence is done upon, and this story would be stronger if it were truly hers.

    Uniqueness of Story

    The dual structure of Part I is the best part of the series and it’s what sets it apart. However, this is simply a clever structural choice, and it’s not the story itself. Jasmine/Linda’s story is very horrific and potentially unique, but it’s not handled in a nuanced or particularly original way. When this becomes a globetrotting chase in Parts II and III, it loses anything fresh about the story. The story itself becomes muddied and confusing, and it’s hard to follow in places. A cleaner through line and focusing on Jasmine/Linda would improve it.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Streaming, TV Series - Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    This series is still a work in progress because no element of it is wholly ready yet. The writing itself isn’t very interesting or dynamic. The characters are flat, and the overarching plot is confusing and poorly balanced. The wrong characters are focused on, and the only queer character is a crazy and possessive villain. The first book starts with a fascinating structure and interesting mystery, but unfortunately that falls apart by the end and it sets up a promise that isn’t fulfilled.

    Tips for Improvement

    The way the story is told needs to be my dynamic. A lot is hidden from the audience, such as cliffhangers at the end of chapters that aren’t revisited for some time, or are dropped completely. The reader doesn’t get to follow along, and the characters always have way more information than the reader. This makes the narrative dull and not compelling. This isn’t helped by the decade long gap between Part II and Part III. Because of this, nothing in Part II is resolved, and the audience only finds out what happens in exposition in Part III. This creates a gap in the audience’s ability to connect to the story. Jasmine/Linda should absolutely be the main character of the series. She was violently attacked, had her child and essentially her womanhood ripped away from her, and she has very little agency within the series. A man has to save her, and then that man’s son, and all she gets to do is give a small speech to Simon toward the end. Having everything be a dream is a strange excuse to a story that’s confusing and illogical. This ending also makes no sense, as Jasmine/Linda wakes on the plane before she reaches New York. However the first book begins with Linda’s story prior to her flight, and it’s told concurrently with Frank finding her on the beach in the first chapter. The story can’t be told from both of these points of view and then be retroactively thrown aside in this way. What’s more, this ending suggests that everything that happens to Linda before page 85 (in her own narrative) actually happened to her. This is extremely confusing, and it doesn’t add up. The ending itself will also alienate an audience. It also means that nothing actually matters within the context of the books. An audience has invested time in this story and these characters over three books, and they’ll be completely betrayed by discovering everything Linda experienced was fake.

    Brief

    When a movie star stumbles across a dying woman on the beach, he finds himself entangled with her survival and her struggle to remember her life before she was left for dead. As they uncover her true identity together, they learn they also must find her husband and the baby that was stolen from her body. Their search, and those of the people they collect along the way, spans several years and reshapes who they are.

    What We Liked

    The ultimate message in the book series is one of good triumphing over evil, of what love can do, and of how found families can support one another. Even though a lot of bad is visited upon the characters, they’re able to persevere and stay loyal to each other throughout these events. So many amazing people come into Frank’s life thanks to him finding Jasmin/Linda on the beach, even as he and his friends and family are forced to deal with this horrific series of events.

    Film: The entire season could easily be adapted into two or even three films, lending itself well to a film franchise. Alternatively, the first book would make for a great, concise thriller that would totally stand on its own, while still leaving the door open to a sequel (or two). The mystery that’s set up in the first book is intriguing, and the dual structure would translate so well into the first act of a film, or even up to the midpoint. Centering the film around the Jasmin/Linda character is an amazing opportunity for an A-List actress.

    TV: With three books worth of storylines and memorable characters, there’s no shortage of avenues to develop a TV show around. The arc of the series is still so connected, though, intimately tying together all three parts which could be translated easily into three perfect seasons. The addition of strong characters means there’s so much more to mine from, too, as any one of them could support their own episodes and give rise to interesting subplots and additional seasons.

    Key points: Mystery element; Central story maintained throughout all three books; Worldwide intrigue; Thrilling cliffhangers ; Diverse supporting character in Rosa

    Synopsis

    FRANK, a Hollywood action star, is jogging on the beach when he stumbles across a WOMAN. She’s bloody and torn open, but she’s still alive. She’s taken to the nearby hospital, and Frank is able to sweet talk the staff into letting him visit the woman, who he’s calling LINDA. Fiery, older receptionist SUSIE is especially helpful, and the two become friends. Meanwhile in Switzerland, JASMIN learns that she’s pregnant. She’s ecstatic to share the news with her husband, ROBERTO. When she goes to to see her DOCTOR, though, she learns she has advanced stage breast cancer, and only has a 5% chance of the survival. She tells Roberto only about the pregnancy, not wanting him to worry.

    They’re going to New York soon, to visit Roberto’s friend SIMON who works at the Coney Island Hospital. When Roberto learns what Jasmin is hiding from him, he’s furious and forbids her from coming. She decides to go anyway, and she tells him she’s fine and her doctor supports her traveling. They plan to meet up in New York, but she’s attacked when she arrives. She wakes up as Linda in Coney Island Hospital. She can’t remember anything about her previous life. She’s even had a double mastectomy in her sleep, to combat the cancer. Frank and his son KEN are there for her every step of the way, while the police struggle to connect the dots and figure out who performed a C-section on her and left her for dead. The hunt is on to figure out what happened to her BABY and to Roberto.

    Thanks to Frank, Ken, and Susie, and despite OFFICER TROPMAN getting in their way, they figure out that Roberto’s friend Simon is to blame. He’s secretly in love with Roberto, and he stole Jasmin’s baby and kidnapped an unwilling Roberto, taking them both to Mexico. Jasmin suddenly remembers everything, but she feels like her old life has died and prefers to go by Linda. She doesn’t think Roberto meant for any of this to happen, and she, Frank, Ken, and Susie all travel to Mexico to get her baby back. They track down a lead to find Simon at a psychiatric hospital, working as an intern to ROSALIA. Rosalia is a strong woman who is helping Roberto, who remembers nothing thanks to a drug he’s being given. He was severely injured by Simon, hence Rosalia’s physiotherapy help. Simon is her intern so he can keep an eye on Roberto. When Roberto sees him, he reacts fearfully, which makes Rosalia suspect Simon.

    Simon is involved in some kind of child trafficking that’s allowed to take place under the disreputable hospital director’s nose. Simon is there with a baby girl, MIRJAM, and as Linda and Susie get close to finding her, Simon abducts Susie. Linda finds Mirjam and Roberto with Frank and Ken’s help. Susie is found at the psychiatric hospital with no memory later, as Simon used the same drug that temporarily erased Roberto’s memory. She regains her memory, Ken and Rosalia get married, and Linda and Roberto take Mirjam with them to start anew. Roughly a decade later, though, Mirjam learns that she’s not Linda and Roberto’s biological child. She was simply another baby in the hospital. By the time the couple found out, they kept the truth hidden while still searching for the real Mirjam all these years.

    They realize that Office Tropman led the investigation astray on purpose. They’re able to track Simon to Mexico, where he never actually left. He’s still with the real Mirjam, and Linda, Roberto, and their Mirjam are going to get her back and see that justice is served to Simon. Ken, Rosalia, and their CHILDREN go to Scotland to visit Ken’s UNCLE, while Frank stays in New York. In Mexico, Linda comes face to face with Simon and gets to give him a piece of her mind. She then meets her DAUGHTER for the first time. Linda, or rather, Jasmin wakes on the plane to New York to meet up with Roberto. Jasmin fell asleep while watching one of Frank’s movies, and this grand story after has simply been a dream.

    About The Author

    Hiam Mondini was born in Switzerland and is currently living in Chicago. Her diverse career path included working as a teacher, a Human Resources Assistant, head of Diversity & Health Management in a Swiss Bank and Managing Director. Her stories are distinctly personal, and the trademark of Hiam's writing is the deep connection that she weaves between an array of tremendously unique characters.