Flashback: The Disappeared
I get one question more than any other even years after the book was published: “What happened to Noah?” So, let me start this flashback post by telling you the inspiration for the book. If you haven't read it yet, check out the book's page on Amazon, since this post does contain spoilers, and I wouldn’t want to ruin the experience for you if you do decide to read the story.
At that time, I'd finished writing The Chicago Series, All the Love Songs, and The Fire, and I had no plans to write anything else connected to The Fire. Kenna and Ripley existed in a universe of their own, and I was good with that. I also had this idea for another crime book. (For those of you who don't know, I have an advanced degree in Behavioral Analysis and Criminal Justice, so writing a few books with crimes in them is my way of using that expensive degree since I decided not to become a profiler). I wanted to tell a story that was real.
Yes, there's romance, and so there's often suspension of disbelief and often near-impossible sexual positions, but the crime part is real. When Ada and Noah go to the lake, it's a normal day. Ada only looks away for a matter of seconds when she's underwater, and when she looks up, her brother is gone. That's how it happens. I've studied enough and watched enough to know that in just about every story where a child goes missing, that's the phrase someone uses, "I only looked away for a second." And the reality is, once a child has been gone for 24 hours, the likelihood of finding them falls drastically. If it hits 72 hours, it's almost impossible you'd find them alive.
There are other fictional stories, of course, where there's probably a happy ending to a case like that, but when I wrote The Disappeared, I wanted it to be realistic. I made sure that Dylan kept her promise to Ada, and she does find her brother in a roundabout way, but Noah is still gone. I wanted to give Ada closure; to give her a happy ending in Dylan and a brother she never knew she had, but I never planned on revealing what happened to Noah.
The reason: I intentionally never told MYSELF what happened. Noah disappears; that's as much as I allowed myself to know (and to this day, that is still the case). To me, that allows Noah to still exist somewhere in The Fire universe, and for readers to determine what happened to him, if they want.
So, while I'm sure it's not the answer most readers want, it is the truth; and Ada can move on with her life with Dylan and be the sarcastic asshole she often is. ;)