Surviving Heartbreak Valley

Linda Walls

Book Cover

GENRE

CRIME DRAMA MEMOIR

    Core Theme

    DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND MENTAL ILLNESS

    TIME PERIOD

    1980s & '90s,2000s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY, MINDHUNTER

    CHARACTER LIST

    • LINDA WALLS: 20’S TO LATE 30’S. LEAD. DRIVEN AND OUTSPOKEN.

    • BERNON HOWERY – 20’S TO 40’S. LINDA’S EX THAT STALKED HER AND THE MURDERER OF HER CHILDREN.

    • ROBERT – 20’S TO 30’S. LINDA’S FIRST LOVE AND THE FATHER TO HER FIRST CHILD, LADONJA.

    • LADONJA – BABY TO TEENS. LINDA’S FIRST CHILD, FATHERED BY ROBERT AND KILLED BY BERNON.

    • PRIMA – BABY TO CHILD. LINDA’S SECOND CHILD, WHOSE TWIN DIED. HER FIRST CHILD WITH BERNON, WHOM HE ALSO KILLED.

    • JOEL – BABY TO CHILD. LINDA’S THIRD CHILD, SECOND CHILD FATHERED AND KILLED BY BERNON.

    • JUSTINA – BABY. LINDA’S FOURTH CHILD, THIRD CHILD FATHERED AND KILLED BY BERNON.

    Logline

    It's a true story about my four children being murdered by my EX, who was my three younger children's father.

    Target Audiences

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

    Target Gender: Universal,Female Leaning,Male Leaning

    Setting

    Kankakee, Illinois

    Based on a True Story

    Yes

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: Outskirts Press

    Year Published: 2018

    Starting Description

    In 1989 Linda Walls had put an abusive relationship behind her., graduated college, and was ready to start a new chapter in life. Then one night she returned home to find her house burning with her four children trapped inside. The children's father, Bernon Howery, stalker ignited the fire.

    Ending Description

    Howery was sentenced to death, which he faught to have overturned. Linda became an advocate against stalking and domestic violence, conducting seminars and appearing on Oprah and a Diane Sawyer documentary. Linda had to fight for justice and to establish a new life.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    ISBN978-1-4787-5729-0

    Mature Audience Themes

    Extreme Violence,Sexual Abuse

    Plot - Other Elements

    Meaningful Message

    Plot - Premise

    Tragedy,Quest,Overcoming Monster/Villain

    Main Character Details

    Name: Linda Walls

    Age: 32

    Gender: Female

    Role: Emotional

    Key Traits: Honorable,Educated,Leader,Faithful,Empathetic,Decisive,Confident,Desperate,Complex,Selfless,Underdog,Visionary,Strong Moral Code,Sophisticated,Sexy

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Bernon Howery

    Age: 43

    Gender: Male

    Role: Antagonist

    Key Traits: Badass,Aggressive,Masculine,Narcisstic,Villainous,Power Hungry,Outspoken,Manipulative,Educated

    Additional Character Details

    Name: 4 children

    Age: 4- 11

    Gender: Other

    Role: emotional

    Key Traits: Confident,Obedient

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    A wrenching true tale of love, domestic violence, stalking and murders, and survival. A mother suffering from her children being murdered, but fighting for justice while being attacked through the justice system that was being manipulated manipulated by the murderer and his lawyers.

    Genre

    DRAMA, MATURE AUDIENCE

    Brief

    A woman forms a relationship with a man that she has three children with. He also is a father figure to her first child from a different relationship. The man becomes increasingly abusive and kills all four of her children. He is brought to justice for the murders, and the woman grows from her mistakes.

    Overall Rating

    GOOD

    Point of View

    FIRST PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: GOOD

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: EXCELLENT

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: GOOD

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: GOOD

    Theme: GOOD

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The genre needs adjustment. It is a memoir and crime, but it is not action. The logline is not a true logline. The short summary doesn’t include a summary. The target audience is more female leaning rather than male leaning. The narrative is more specific to those that have experienced domestic abuse.

    Draw of Story

    The fact that it is based on a true story. The dedication of the book at the beginning with a listing of all the family members that were murdered also brought me into the tragedy of the story and wanting to know more about how so many could have been affected by a murder. The beginning of the story of Linda experiencing PTSD as she’s at the end of her rope helped to bring forth empathy for her and the desire to see her succeed, as well as to discover what led her to that low point.

    Possible Drawbacks

    Linda is a little too perfect and Bernon is a little too evil. This is understandable, as this is written from the point of view of the author, who is the protagonist and person this story really happened to. It can be difficult for each of us to articulate our own flaws, but that would be helpful since it can get a little black and white with Linda always the victim and Bernon always the bad guy. It gets a little repetitive without much escalation of conflict around page 85. In other words, the same level of conflict remains for a stretch with similar events that occurred before that continue to happen. Bernon makes promises he doesn’t intend on filling, Linda trusts him and get angry when he betrays her, and there’s physical abuse. This cycle plays out repetitively. While Linda endured much of the same abuse over and over, for an adaptation, certain events need to be chosen to highlight so the pace isn't affected.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The fact that it’s based on a true story and the magnitude of what occurred is so grand with all four of a mother’s children being murdered by the man that’s obsessed with her is compelling. There are so many questions that come up from that premise that it hooks you in.

    Fanbase Potential

    This is not the type of narrative that would foster a large fanbase. It's a true crime story based on domestic violence, and those types of narratives don't typically have large fanbases.

    Awards Potential

    The characters of Linda and Bernon are complex and interesting. If written well and cast well, those roles could see acting nominations. The narrative takes place in the 1980’s and 1990’s, so there’s some potential for costumes and art department to gain recognition.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    THERE ARE A SLEW OF LIFETIME MOVIES THAT HAVE THE SAME PREMISE OF A WOMAN BEING STALKED BY AN OBSESSED, MENTALLY UNSTABLE MALE ANTAGONIST. THE DIFFERENCE WITH THIS ONE IS THAT THE LEVEL OF CRIME THAT’S COMMITTED IS EVEN MORE EXTREME, AND IT’S BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

    What’s New About the Story

    It’s a true story of domestic violence and stalking. While it sounds like the premise of a melodramatic Lifetime Movie, it’s true. As they say, truth is stranger than fiction. That completely applies to this narrative.

    Lead Characters

    Linda is a complex, diverse female lead character. She is attractive, driven, athletic, intelligent, and stands up for herself. She’s not the typical victim one might assume would end up in this type of domestic violence situation. She consistently focuses on her goals and works toward them, while being resourceful and smart.

    Uniqueness of Story

    This is a rare gem.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Indie, Film - Streaming, Film - Studio, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series

    Analyst Recommendation

    RECOMMEND

    Justification

    This has a clear throughline with a beginning, middle, and satisfying end. There's a clear protagonist and antagonist. The protagonist is complex, and many are looking for diverse female led narratives.

    Brief

    Based on a true story, med tech Linda Walls meets Bernon Howery in college, not knowing that one day he will be the father to her children – and their murderer. After giving birth to a baby with a man that isn’t interested in her anymore, Linda gets back together with an old flame, Bernon. Things start off well, but Linda’s life quickly devolves into one of survival and learning to live with years of verbal and physical abuse. Not one to give in so easily, Linda continues to pursue her dreams of a law degree, even after having three more babies fathered by Bernon. With an unchecked mental illness driving his actions and an uncontrollable obsession, Bernon kills all of Linda’s children to try to make her love him.

    What We Liked

    - The narrative is compelling because it’s a true crime story. At the center of it, a strong, diverse female protagonist, Linda, consistently speaks up for herself and defies the world’s picture of what a domestic violence victim is. Intelligent, driven, outspoken, and resourceful, Linda’s story offers a message about the reality victims endure at the hands of their abusers and the flaws in the justice system. It fosters understanding in how a woman can end up in an abusive situation and see no way out of it, in addition to how abusers get away with their actions.
    - There is internal and external conflict aplenty, as Linda strives to live the “American dream,” but her failed relationships, unplanned pregnancies, and abuse from Bernon consistently get in the way. This is the type of narrative that appeals more to a female audience.
    - The extremes of violence and abuse that occur are compelling because it’s all true, pulling the audience in to want to see how all four of a woman’s children could be killed by their father. Bernon, the antagonist and killer, is also complex, because he grapples with an unchecked mental illness that drives him.
    - This can work either as a TV movie or feature film. It has a clear beginning, middle and end. As mentioned, there’s an excellent balance of internal and external conflict throughout for the protagonist, Linda, as she deals with financial issues, health problems with her kids, unexpected pregnancies, escalating violence from Bernon, with the ultimate conflict occurring when Bernon kills her children. Throughout it all, Linda is a complex character that consistently tries to achieve her goals of achieving a college degree and advancing at work. Her journey contains a message about domestic violence and mental illness. There’s a clear antagonist in Bernon, who consistently manipulates Linda, threatens her life, physically abuses her, sexually assaults her, and takes the lives of her children. The trial is also compelling, and is a nice wrap up to the narrative, seeing Bernon brought to justice and Linda using her experiences to educate others and bring forth laws that will protect victims. She now has a teen daughter, which is a cathartic ending. This has all the makings of Lifetime movie, but is compelling due to it being a true story. There is potential for this to appeal to a faith-based audience, but more of Linda’s religious life would need to be seen.
    - Key points: True story; Diverse Cast; Strong Diverse Female Protagonist; Messages about Domestic Violence and Mental illness; Compelling Antagonist.

    Synopsis

    Linda Walls meets Bernon Howery while she’s in college. She works as a med tech, going to school in hopes of a law degree. Linda and Bernon break up after a short time, and Linda gets back together with her high school sweetheart, Robert. Linda has Robert’s baby, but their relationship falls apart. Bernon comes back into Linda’s life and is a good father to LaDonja, Linda’s baby with Robert. While things start off well with Bernon, bit by bit, things fall apart, until one day Bernon has a machine gun pointed at her head.

    Over the course of many years and Linda having three more babies, all fathered by Bernon, he gaslights Linda while physically and verbally abusing her. With the machine gun ever-present in the house and his threatening Linda’s life, she feels she has no choice but to find a way to live with him. However, Linda is strong and isn’t shy about standing up for herself, which leads to the unthinkable: Bernon kills all four of Linda’s children in a twisted effort to win her love back.

    As Linda grapples with her grief, Bernon, from jail, continues to try to manipulate her get back together with her. In a heartless and very public trial where Bernon attempts to lie and manipulate the justice system into believing he’s innocent, Linda musters all her will to stay centered and get the verdict that will give her children justice. She learns to make empowering choices for herself and other victims of domestic violence.

    About The Author

    Linda Walls is an author and advocate against domestic violence and stalking. She advocated for the National Stalking Law and has been featured on Oprah, a Diane Sawyer documentary, and numerous news outlets for the message of survival she offers through the lessons she learned from her partner tragically killing her four children in 1989. In 1999, Linda gave birth to a beautiful daughter, who is now a junior in college. Linda lives happily with her daughter in Illinois.