“When you spend 20 years dreaming about this happening to you, and then it does, it is just amazing,” said Eggeman, who by day works as public information officer for the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department.
Eggeman, 50, who uses her maiden name, Natalie S. Ellis, as her pen name, describes the book as a “sexy thriller.”
“It is a little scarier than a regular suspense,” she said. “And it is a little sexier than a typical romance.” But not “50 Shades of Gray”-sexy, she added quickly.
The plot involves a former policeman whose brother, a psychologist, asks him to kidnap one of his patients to help her overcome her fear of being kidnapped, Eggeman said. But the ex-cop mistakenly kidnaps the wrong woman, a tough and beautiful news reporter, who is new to town and who has her own secrets.
Eggeman, who was born in Lima, Ohio, but has lived in Fort Wayne since 9 months old, set her story in the Summit City. She also drew on her 16 years of experience working off-camera in television news at the former WKJG, Channel 33.
The idea for the book grew out of an article she read years ago about someone arranging a kidnapping as a practical joke. She thought about how scared the victim would feel, and then about how some people force themselves to face their fears as a way to overcome them.
Eggeman, who loves to write, finished her first full-length book manuscript while in her mid-20s. She sent it out to one or two publishers, but it was rejected.
She loves playing tennis, and she wrote a book about the sport 25 years ago. A publisher expressed interest in it. But she soon learned the company was a scam preying on eager would-be authors.
Soon after, she began work on what has become “Fear for Hire,” one of eight books she has written over the years.
Eggeman continued attending writing conferences and workshops, still pursuing her dream. Publishing house editors and book agents attend many conferences, and writers can pitch them new book ideas.
About eight years ago, an agent took interest in her writing, and in “Fear for Hire” and another book she had written, she said. After no publishing success, Eggeman switched a couple of years later to a different agent and worked with her for two years.
Both agents suggested numerous revisions in her books, but no publishers took interest.
Eggeman then decided to step back and revise “Fear for Hire” based on her gut feeling about what she loves in books.
“When you listen to your instincts, you tend to write the best book,” she said.
She self-published “Fear for Hire” on Amazon.com about a year ago.
She sold a few copies to family and friends. Amazon.com featured the book in special promotions twice, generating sales of about 1,000 copies each time. But the author doesn't get any money from those sales, she said.
In September, a friend sent out a note via Facebook that HarperCollins would let authors email the first three chapters of prospective books to an editor each Wednesday. On the first Wednesday, Eggeman sent the beginning of “Fear for Hire.”
A week later, a HarperCollins editor emailed her to say she liked it, and she asked for the entire book. A week after that, the editor asked if she could show the book to the company's acquisitions team. A few days later, the editor contacted her to sign her for publication.
“I thought, 'This can't be happening to me,'” Eggeman said.
She never considered giving up through all the years.
“I love to write these books. It's just fun,” she said.
She also knew she was close to achieving her dream, based on positive feedback from publishers and book agents.
“How could I quit when I knew I was close?” she said.
Based on “Fear for Hire,” HarperCollins already has asked her to do a book series, Eggeman said.
She is halfway through a first draft of the second book, which also takes place in Fort Wayne. She has two chapters written on the third book, which is set in Chicago.
Eggeman hopes the book series will be good for the Fort Wayne.
Along with the first two books featuring local neighborhoods and landmarks in their stories, HarperCollins wants to include photos of the city in a social media campaign for the books, she said.
Eggeman also plans to use 3 percent of book sale proceeds to set up a fund that will grant money to initiatives that help Fort Wayne grow.
“I love living in Fort Wayne,” she said.
Getting 'Fear'•Natalie Eggeman's new ebook, “Fear for Hire” (HarperCollins, $6.99) will be released this spring and can be pre-ordered now from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble bookstores and Google Play.
•Eggeman is working with local company Punch Films to create a book trailer — similar to a movie trailer — to promote her book. When completed, the trailer will be shown at a book launch party.
•For more on Eggeman and “Fear for Hire,” including a book excerpt, go to www.fearforhire.com.