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EBD: Murder at Timber Bridge, your novel released in June 2010, features three characters that you presented in the short story, “Nothing Much Has Changed.” Do your characters often originate in short stories and then develop fully into novel characters?
KDE: I actually wrote “Nothing Much has Changed,” to post on my website and help build interest for Murder at Timber Bridge. At the time, I had an offer from a publisher and thought publication would be imminent. It didn’t work out and over successive re-workings of the website, I removed all off my short stories and decided to put them together in a collection to help promote my books. So far it’s worked the other way. Readers buy the novels and then come back for the shorts, but in the end, it’s all good in whichever way they purchase them.
EBD: Is Murder at Timber Bridge a traditional mystery?
EBD: I had a good friend, Dinty, who was a chocolate Lab. What do you have against black Labs?
KDE: I actually love Labs. They are big, sweet, slobbery, easy to train, and beautiful. What’s not to love about them? They’re like big teddy bears. But on a visit to Oklahoma, my mom took her little Jack Russell Terrier with her. The neighbors that lived behind my grandmother had a black Lab that was a couple of kibbles short. Every morning this dog would lay down to have a nap next to the fence, and every morning Max would head out to inspect his territory for the day and one of the things he marked was the dog sleeping against the fence. It cracked us up every morning and the Lab never found a different spot to take his morning siesta. So in this instance, art does imitate life.
EBD: You had me going on this one, lots of red herrings. I really thought that Lex was the killer, but he is someone isn’t he?
KDE: Lex is a very complicated individual and we’ll learn a lot more about him in the next book. Believe it or not, when I invented Lex, he was supposed to be the bad guy. But he just didn’t want to be. He kept doing nice things and messing up my plans and truth to tell, he is my favorite hottie in the book. He’s the one I’d like to go home with.
EBD: Your biggest red herring was quite believable. I’ve often wondered if some cops want to get behind a badge for instant authority. Do you think that’s a problem in our police force?
KDE: That’s a really tough question. I think that a police officer has to be comfortable with confrontation. If they’re not, they won’t last long, and might not even make it through the police academy. So, there’s a personality type that gravitates to police work, and I think the personality type that gravitates toward criminal activity often have some of the same traits.
So to answer one of your questions, absolutely, some people become police officers for the authority the badge gives them, but I think the majority of them just want to help people. Police officers, firefighters, EMT’s, do their extremely difficult jobs for relatively low pay and I don’t think they do it for the power trip. I think they do it because someone has to right the wrongs. And I for one am just tickled to death that they’re around to take care of me. Even when I get stopped for speeding.
EBD: The last time I interviewed you, I asked how you wrote men so well. This time, in Murder at Timber Bridge, your main character is Randi Black, a woman. But she’s not a typical woman. Were you, like her, brought up in a house full of males?
KDE: I wasn’t brought up in a house full of guys. I’m an only child, and I spent most of my time with adults and those adults spent most of their time at the racetrack or in the racecar shop. I cut my teeth on a set of mechanics tools, and I was lucky enough to have parents that didn’t try too hard to dissuade me from whatever I wanted to try. So I grew up with the opportunity to learn to cook and work on my car; to fix the lawnmower and learn to sew. The best wedding gift I received was from my mom. It was a toolbox that she put together for me to keep in the house so I could take care of the little things that break or that I wanted to change without having to wait for hubby to do it, which is a good thing, cause they might not have gotten done at all otherwise.
EBD: Are you a twin? If not, why did you decide to make Randi a twin? And do you think most twins are close?
KDE: I am not a twin, but one of my fondest wishes was to be a twin. When I got old enough to realize that wasn’t going to happen, I decided I would just have twin boys when I got married. There are tons of twins on both sides of my family and the generation was right, so I was hoping, but it didn’t work out that way. My son married a twin, so maybe I’ll get twin grandbabies instead.
EBD: Randi and her mom don’t get along, but then her mom and grandmother don’t get along well either. Is that typical?
KDE: Randi’s mom is very traditional. Randi and Granny Bert, which is actually her father’s mom, are a bit untraditional. Randi by upbringing, because she grew up with a ton of men and boys in her life, and Granny Bert because she’s lived long enough to know some things are important and the rest of them just don’t made a bit of difference in the long run. As for me and my mom, we got along very well, and she actually asked me once who Randi’s mom was patterned after. I told her it was her mom.
My grandmother was not traditional in a lot of ways, but she had a way of making you feel unworthy even when you thought you had done something worthwhile or well. That’s kind of what I tried to do with Randi’s mom. She does love Randi, but she’s so much different than Alice feels a woman should be that they have no common ground and Alice ends up making Randi feel a bit small. Granny Bert goes a long way to making this hurt a little easier to live with.
EBD: Randi and AJ have an interesting back story. Will we find out more about their relationship? Do any secrets come to light?
KDE: Randi and AJ do have a lot of baggage both individually and together. As the series moves forward, we are going to learn more about Randi, about AJ and there might even be a secret or two revealed one of these days.
EBD: Will we ever find out how Bill gets on the roof?
KDE: Ah, Bill the cat. I won’t say we won’t ever find out how Bill the cat gets on the roof, but I don’t have any plans at this time to give away his secret. Bill is a pretty important guy though. He’s not going anywhere.
EBD: Small town life plays a detrimental role in this book, which is typical at least in my experience. Does it in your real life?
The difference in living in an actual small town instead of a small community inside a city is you never get away from it. You can’t go to the other side of town for a date, or there’s no reason to ‘cause you’re going to see the same people there and at least one of them probably knows your parents. But I kind of like it. There’s something to be said for walking into the diner for breakfast and having five or six people yell hello or ask how your dad is. It makes you feel connected. I don’t think I would change it for the world.
EBD: So, which sequel will be next? Brocs, the main character of your first book, Where the Dreams End, or Randi in Murder at Timber Bridge?
KDE: That’s easy. Murder at the Jolly Roger, sequel to Murder at Timber Bridge, will be out no later than June of next year. Possibly sooner. It’s in final edit now, and the cover art is done and fantastic, so basically everyone’s just waiting on me. I’ve actually just started the next Brocs Harley book. It’s so new I don’t even know who the bad guy is or what he wants yet, so I don’t think Brocs will be ready before Randi’s next appearance.
WWK Blogger Paula Gail Benson has two short stories running in Kings River Life Magazine this weekend, "Pelican Spring" and "The Mama Factor." Both are Mother's Day short stories. You can read them by going to: http://kingsriverlife.com/category/kings-river-reviewers/terrific-tales/
Linda Rodriguez is a finalist in two categories for the International Latino Book Awards (given out at BEA the end of May)--one for Every Last Secret and one for editing Woven Voices: 3 Generations of Puertorriquena Poets Look at Their American Lives (with Gloria Vando, Anika Paris, and Anita Velez-Mitchell). Congratulations, Linda!
The second SinC Guppy anthology, Fish Nets, has been released by Wildside Press. WWK authors, Gloria Alden, Warren Bull, Kara Cerise and E. B. Davis have short stories in this volume, which can be bought at Wildside Press, the usual retailers and will be available at the Malice Domestic Conference. Look for "the story behind the stories" on May 1 here!
Upcoming Salad Bowl Saturdays include authors Carolyn Mulford on 5/25 and Liz Mugavero on 6/1. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, send a message to Jim Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.