1. Can you tell us about the real-life inspiration behind this book? Everything that happens in the 1930s part of the book actually happened to members of my family. I fictionalized the scenes of course, but my great uncle really did witness a bank robbery in 1932, he really was murdered in 1935, and my great grandmother really was murdered in 1937. I have always been fascinated by the retelling of these events and saddened that my great uncle’s murder was never solved. I’ve always thought someone should write a book about those tragic events.
The other little things that happen in the 1930s part of the book actually happened as well. My grandfather owned a filling station in the center of town, and he and my dad witnessed the occurrences with the drunks and the policemen, just as it happened in the book. The whistle story is actually something my grandfather did to keep some bad guys from ambushing the sheriff. All of that small town flavor are things I’ve heard my dad retell, and they just stuck with me.
2. How did you decide on the details of main character, Tess, regarding her age, situation in life, etc.? I’m not sure I decided. I think Tess told me what to write, and I wrote it. But beyond that, there are tons of chick lit books out there with twenty-something main characters who are beautiful, smart, and have the perfect figure. At a hair over, ahem, fifty, I’d like to read about a character who is older. Older women have love lives too! And I was gratified to hear from several twenty-something readers that they loved the romance between Jack and Tess and found age to be just a number.
As far as Tess’s situation in life, I wanted the romance to be rocky, and I wanted the suspense of her fighting the mutual attraction, so I needed her to not want to get involved with a man. That’s why I had Tess move to town to start a new life after a messy divorce. After what she’d been through, she wanted nothing to do with men. But then she met Jackson.
And I had to give her an adult son in order for part of the plot to work. I can’t elaborate, or I’ll spoil it!
3. The male MC, Jackson, is a little different from the rest of Goose Pimple residents. Can you tell us a little about him? Jackson is a southerner, but he’s not originally from Goose Pimple Junction. He’s fluent in southern speak, although his accent isn’t as thick as some of the town’s residents. So he’s the perfect one to translate for Tess and to help her when she becomes stumped by the pronunciation of words or the meaning of the many “goosepimpleisms” in the book. Of course, he translates for the reader as well. And he’s a mystery writer who loves a good mystery, which makes him the perfect one to help Tess solve the cold case murder.
4. The second storyline in this book centers around the original bank heist. How did you research this era? I had several sources for my research: one was my father. He wasn’t alive for any of the crimes, but he grew up hearing accounts of them. And then I grew up hearing about them. When I began writing the story, I questioned him about some of the details, and we talked about the three events and what he remembers being told. I also have all of the original newspaper articles reporting on the robbery and murders, and there’s quite a bit online about them too. I poured over everything I could find.
5. Some aspects of this story were developed using fictional license when it came to solving the mystery, given that the original mystery was never solved. Was it difficult to create your own ending? No it wasn’t difficult. My imaginary friends sat in on my conversations with my father, and they listened to the possible scenarios and told me what to write. What was a little difficult was tying in the present day killer with that of the 1930s murderer. Several facts and details had to match up in order for it to work.
6. The romance between Tess and Jackson doesn't take the smoothest path. Why was it important not to make it too easy for them? I think it’s a lot more interesting that way. I wanted the reader to root for Jack and Tess to get together. I wanted there to be sexual tension and suspense, like in the television shows where season after season, the main characters are attracted to each other, and the audience is dying for them to get together. But when they do, there’s no more tension, nothing to hope for anymore. You’re glad they finally got together, but it’s easy to get bored with them after that. I had a lot of fun putting bumps in the road for Jack and Tess. Jack wasn’t very pleased with me at times, but he got over it, and I think the story is more fun.
7. In the working version of this book there were scenes that were a bit more racy than what was published. Can you tell us about the reasons behind the changes? I suppose the first version was more racy because I succumbed to peer pressure on the critique site where I first posted the story! Halfway through the book, my readers were threatening me with bodily harm if I didn’t get Jack and Tess together. Well, maybe I exaggerate a little, but the point is…I gave the readers what I thought they wanted. When I found out the book was going to be published, I wanted the book to be one my sons, my father, and people I know could read without me wanting to put a bag over my head for the rest of my life, so I toned it down. My editor and I agreed that it didn’t take anything away from the story to tone it down. I also wanted the book to be mostly a mystery with just a sideline of romance.
8. Who are your favorite authors? Of the old established authors, I love Robert B. Parker, John Sandford, and Nelson DeMille. Of the new authors, I like Tricia Drammeh, Wayne Zurl, and Mike Wells.
9. Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write? I didn’t when I wrote this first book. But after reading it in paperback, I’ve learned I need to read everything out loud at some point in the editing process. So now my dog, Cooper, is my audience and is the first to hear one of my books. He’s a tough audience though. Sometimes he falls asleep. I hope that doesn’t happen with a human reader.
10. Can you tell us about any other projects or books you're working on right now? I’m working on the second book in the GPJ series—Heroes & Hooligans In Goose Pimple Junction. I thought I was done with it, but I put it aside for a few months and now have gone back with a fresh eye, and I’m rewriting it a bit. The town is just recovering from the murder and mayhem that occurred in the first book, when three hooligans arrive. The new police chief has his hands full trying to apprehend a killer, catch a thief, and stop a stalker. Oh, and he has to try to control his feelings for a damsel in distress too.
I’ve also started GPJ3, and every now and then I tinker around on the thriller I started two years ago.
Thank you so much for hosting me, DelSheree. And thank you for reading my book!
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Murder and Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction is available now from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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