When Chelsea Cain visited the set of "Gone," a TV show based on one of her books, she says the magnitude of the production "blew me away."
And it made her feel proud.
"The most unexpected gratification was to go there and see the actual crew, the 300 people who had jobs and working 16 hours a day ... so many people working from the same source material," the Portland author says. "That blew me away. I didn't expect that; 'Oh my god, it's a whole world that I created, all these people from a fantasy in my head.'"
"Gone," which airs Wednesday nights on WGN America, is a 12-part series based on her 2014 book "One Kick." The story: A 6-year-old girl named Kick is abducted and learns combat skills — martial arts, boxing, knife throwing and more — from her abductor, and is released five years later to much fanfare. At 21 she is hired as a crusader by the FBI to track down abducted children, and is tormented by the dark corners of her mind.
Writers of the show, led by Matt Lopez, took some liberties with the original story, but it comes off really well, says Cain, who has a creative producer credit for the show. Translation: "The studio agrees to pay you money," she muses.
"I'm kind of biased, but it's great," Cain says. It works "for what they're going for, which is kind of like a 'Criminal Minds' vibe ... a show that has a procedural pace and crime wrap-up and somebody saved every week while having an overarching theme."
The series stars Leven Rambin as the adult Kit "Kick" Lannigan, as well as Chris Noth as FBI agent Frank Novak and Danny Pino as FBI agent John Bishop.
Cain says the case of Elizabeth Smart, a Utah teenager abducted and later released, transfixed her. Cain remembers how Smart comported herself publicly after the release, dressed in a cardigan sweater and pearls in a TV interview, and how she must have had "bad stuff" going on in her mind. It inspired Cain to write "One Kick" — she had a vision of Elizabeth Smart taking off her cardigan and putting on a leather jacket and going after bad guys.
(The novel "One Kick" has been rereleased by Simon & Schuster as "Gone" with TV artwork and images of Noth, Rambin and Pino on the cover.)
Kick is a hero to Cain.
"It's just empowering in general," Cain says. "There's a bit of wish fulfillment, honestly, that comes from me seeing that."
Cain says that Rambin researched the character by reading the book, working with abduction survivors and fight-training.
"She was amazing. So lovely," she says.
Noth, who starred in "Law & Order" and "Sex and the City" (as Mr. Big), "was exactly who you'd want him to be — very Chris Noth-y. Just gruff and irascible and charming and very much like Mr. Big."
Cain visited the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, set with her daughter, Eliza Mohan, and her daughter's friend Jo Ritter West. The novel's setting is Portland, and it was amazing to Cain how producers recreated the scenes at a Pittsburgh studio.
"We spent a week on set and talked to a whole lot of actors about the characters and they asked me all sorts of questions," she says. "They had literally built a set that I had imagined in my head; to be able to walk through it, it was the best. 'Yes! This is what it's supposed to be like!'"
"One Kick" was Cain's seventh thriller. The previous six featured the Archie Sheridan (cop) and Gretchen Lowell (serial killer) characters; in fact, there's another Sheridan/Lowell book in the works.
Meanwhile, Cain has finished her first compilation volume of "Man-Eaters" comics, and she'll promote it at the Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, March 14-17. The story: A mutation of Toxoplasmosis causes menstruating women to turn into ferocious killer wildcats, easily provoked and extremely dangerous, and the fate of the world rests on one 12-year-old girl. It's been described as "Part Cat People, part The Handmaid's Tale."
"Man-Eaters" is also being developed into a TV show, Cain says. The theme of "Man-Eaters" was a response to negative feedback received from men from the comic "Mockingbird" she wrote for Marvel.
"Some fanboys felt I shouldn't have been doing it, and the character shouldn't have her own title," she says. "They felt I was promoting a feminist agenda, which I was." The press about the controversy, she admits, sold a lot of copies.
So, Cain is staying busy. She's also raising a teenager, Eliza, with her husband Marc Mohan, a freelance writer who's attending Lewis & Clark College Law School.
A Washington state native, she settled in Portland about 20 years ago, and continues to use our city as part of book settings.
"I love this town. That's why I keep murdering people here," she jokes.