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Those Empty Eyes

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

The Story Behind The Story

THOSE EMPTY EYES hits shelves this month! Since readers always ask where the ideas for my novels come from, I thought I'd share a brief post about the inspiration behind the story.

The Story Behind the Story...

The catalyst for my new thriller, THOSE EMPTY EYES, was my research into the media’s role in the JonBenét Ramsey case from the ‘90s. Through tabloids and incessant news coverage, the media created a narrative around a six-year-old girl’s death on Christmas night that was based more on sensationalism than reality, and was reported with an eagerness to sell newspapers rather than find the truth. As of 2023, the case remains unsolved...

When I sat down to write THOSE EMPTY EYES, I imagined if the JonBenét Ramsey case had taken place when the internet was mainstream, and what sort of amplifying effects social media might have had on the exploitation of the family. Instead of a six-year-old being killed, however, I imagined a seventeen-year-old girl named Alex as the sole survivor the night her family is killed in their quiet suburban home during a middle-of-the-night invasion. When responding officers misread the scene and suspect Alex as the shooter, they lead her out of the house in handcuffs—and straight into the hot lights of television news cameras waiting on the front lawn. The wide-eyed stare Alex offers reporters the night her family is killed becomes the crux of the media’s nickname for her—Empty Eyes. Months of exploitative news reports follow and turn Alex’s life upside-down.

With the media, the country, and the authorities convinced Alex is guilty, her only chance at finding the truth about the night her family was killed is to up and vanish. So she does...

Thanks again for reading my books. I’m forever grateful.

—Charlie Donlea

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