If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our May author interviews: Marla Cooper-5/3, Rhys Bowen-5/10, Cindy Brown-5/17, Martha Reed-5/24, Sherry Harris--5/31.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in May--Paty Jager-5/6 and Maren Anderson-5/13. WWK Saturday bloggers write on 5/20--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 5/27--Kait Carson. E. B. Davis blogs this month on 5/30.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.”

In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on October, 18, 2017. Look for the interview by E. B. Davis here on that date!

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Agatha Nominated Sasscer Hill's Racing from Death

The nomination of Full Mortality for an Agatha Award in 2011 hasn’t jaded Sasscer Hill. She’s come back stronger with her second book in the Nikki Latrelle series, Racing from Death. I interviewed Sasscer just after the Malice Domestic Conference in 2011. You can read that interview here. Although I loved Full Mortality, Sasscer’s writing seems even stronger in her second book, and she doesn’t shy away from the horse racing world’s dire issues. If you haven’t yet read the series or the second book, grab a copy and arrange to read it when you have no obligations. You won’t want to stop reading Racing from Death. Please welcome Sasscer back to WWK.                                                                  E. B. Davis

EBD: You aren’t a stranger to the horse racing world. What is your experience with horse racing?

SH: A roller coaster ride! Nothing compares to the deep valleys and high peaks of owning a race horse. In 1982, I bought a broodmare to keep my riding horse company and establish an agribusiness that would lower our property taxes. The idea was to breed the mare and sell the youngsters. But I’ve always been a speed demon – a fast driver and lover of racing across the fields on horseback. I got bit by the racing bug and kept a foal to race. His sire’s name was “Feel the Power.” His dam was called “Swimming Home.” I named him “Sea Surge.”

The night he was born, I delivered him. Later I broke him and trained him right on the farm. Surge ran fairly well in his first start, but came up lame after the race. He’d sustained a slight crack in his shin bone. I was devastated. The vet said to give the horse several months off. I did and then began riding him on the farm again. When he was almost ready to start serious training, I made the mistake of putting a less experienced rider on him. Surge tossed this rider, took off down the driveway, galloped onto the county road, and hung a left onto Route 301. He ran on the paved shoulder, heading south in the north bound lane for over two miles.

By some miracle, he did not run into an oncoming eighteen wheeler and I got him safely home. I expected him to be dead lame. He wasn’t. He continued training and a few months later came flying down the stretch on the lead at Pimlico racetrack and won both his and my first race. It was one of the best moments of my life. Seeing that colt win was a high that had to be experienced to believed.

EBD: Give us the hook of Racing from Death.

SH: Racing at Virginia’s beautiful Colonial Downs twists into a nightmare for jockey Nikki Latrelle. A sociopath is selling diet cocktails – killing jockeys who struggle to make racing weight. A hidden meth lab, an old family secret, a body buried years ago in the woods, and a friend’s disappearance pull Nicky into a race against death. 

EBD: Is weight a big issue for jockeys?

SH: Yes, for many, it is a huge issue. Consider a young apprentice jockey who is allowed/assigned a lower weight. The lighter weight gives his horse an advantage and racehorse trainers a reason to hire the apprentice. If this jockey is not blessed with a tiny frame and a rocket metabolism how does he make weight restrictions as low as 108 pounds?

There are jockeys who sit in sweat boxes, toss up their last meal like a bulimic, or take diet drugs. The idea for Racing from Death came from a news article about the young apprentice jockey, Emanuel Jose Sanchez, who died at Colonial Downs in 2005 because he had a solid build, and abused his body and starved himself to make the weight. 

EBD: Are illegal drugs at the track a bigger problem for horses or humans?

SH: Horses, because there are some low life trainers who will administer almost anything to a horse to get the win. Thank God these people are in the minority, and more strict laws are being passed almost every month to put a stop to this nefarious behavior. One of the things I so enjoy about Nikki Latrelle is the horse comes first. Not the money, and those who do wrong suffer the consequences.

EBD: Nikki seems more sure of herself in this book. She’s growing. Have you planned her development, her character arc?

SH: Nikki has evolved on her own. I always knew exactly who she was, but learned who she’d become as I wrote the stories. It was clear to me she needed to “woman-up.” The battles she endures give her self confidence, but it doesn’t happen overnight. She really steps up to the plate in the third book in the series.

EBD: Nikki wins races in Racing from Death. (A bit of vicarious fun for the reader too!) Will she become a sought after jockey?

SH: From time to time, yes. But as we writers are only as good as our last book, a jockey is only as good as his/her last win. It’s hard to stay on top, and Nikki is at her best when struggling.

EBD: While Nikki seems unlucky in love, her relationship with her eccentric horse maybe growing. What are relationships like between horses and humans?

SH: They can be absolutely amazing. For me, horses have been far less disappointing than humans. For starters, they don’t lie and if they like and trust you, they will do almost anything for you. But if you do them wrong, they never forget.

EBD: What guides do you use to pace your books?

SH: The races in each story are perfect for pacing. They also provide little story arcs. Nikki either finds a race that fits one of the horses in her care, or is told by the boss or owner a horse is running in a specific race. She has to figure out what the horse needs, and train him for the upcoming race. Is the horse bold, or timid? Is he a plodder or a sprinter? Is it a long race, or a short race? Is it on the turf or the dirt? What other horses will be entered? What are their strengths and weaknesses? But as she does this, the main plot keeps unfolding around her, providing conflict. Events in a race may echo what happens in the plot, and the personalities of the horses often mirror those of the human characters. I like to think the horses and the races bring depth and imagery to the plot.

EBD: Does being nominated for an Agatha Award make a difference in your writing?

SH: Yes. It makes me more competitive with myself. It puts more pressure on me to write something even better than the book that got the nomination.

EBD: Do you have a writing schedule? If so, are you disciplined about keeping to it?

SH: I am terrible about being disciplined with my writing except for when I am. What I mean is, I will find any excuse not to write, then for no reason I can explain, I’ll write a lot every day, print it out before bedtime, read and edit it over morning coffee, then go back to the computer and keep going. I work very well under deadlines, unfortunately my small press never hands them out. I try to make my own drop dead dates. If there aren’t too many life suspending interruptions, this works pretty well.

 EBD: What’s next for Nikki?

SH: Nikki is going to South Florida in the novel, “The Sea Horse Trade.” The manuscript is completed. Here’s the cover copy:

When Nikki works the January meet at Gulfstream Park near Miami, something about new racehorse owner, Currito Maldonista, worries her. Bad enough she’s expected to handle the evil-minded colt that reflects his owner’s personality, but Nikki discovers the Colombian is a drug lord, selling his product to the US. Even worse, she suspects he might be abducting young American girls into a network of overseas slave trade.

Friend Carla Ruben contacts Nikki, desperate to find the teenage daughter she gave up for adoption. The adoptive parents have died unexpectedly, and the exotically beautiful girl was last seen in Miami. Nikki’s ominous association with Maldonista will lead her down a dark road where she must search for Carla’s daughter.


I had the pleasure of meeting Sasscer at the 2012 Malice Domestic Conference, even though we are both SinC Chesapeake Chapter members and should have met sooner. Thanks, Sasscer for visiting WWK again. Her books are available at Amazon and Wildside Press

18 comments:

Polly said...

I've had the great pleasure of meeting Sasscer up close and personal, so I know how hard she works at everything she undertakes. We've even swapped manuscripts. She's a terrific writer and deserves all the accolades coming her way.

E. B. Davis said...

I loved both of Sasscer's books, and I thought the second was even better than the first, which was nominated for an Agatha. If you are looking for a good reading series with a lot of action and character development, this series may be the one for you.

Sasscer Hill said...

Thanks Polly and E.B.! I hope everyone will watch the Belmont this Saturday on NBC Sports channel. We have a possible triple crown winner! It's been decades since the last horse pulled it off.

Warren Bull said...

Thanks for telling us about your books. It sounds like you introduce your readers to a world very few of us know about.

Sasscer Hill said...

Thanks, Warren. It's a world filled with passion, that's for sure.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Sasscer, it's great to see you here on Writers Who Kill! I met you last year at Malice, though missed you at this year's except from afar. I second EB's recommendation of your series!

Great interview, EB!

E. B. Davis said...

I'm glad you reminded me about Belmont, Sasscer. I really want to see that race. I hope that "I'll Have Another" wins! Love the horse's name. It will be exciting.

Shellie Williams said...

Hi Sasscer,

Wonderful interview and it just makes me respect your writing even more. I read Full Mortality and what I loved was the ring of authenticity that permeated the book. This is a writer, I thought, who knows her stuff Not just a great researcher, but someone intimately familiar with horses and racing.

I think readers are searching for authenticity and you've got it in spades.

Shellie Williams

Meg Opperman said...

Hi Sasscer! Great interview. I can't wait until the Sea Horse Trade comes out. Since I've had a sneak peek I can tell everyone that they won't be disappointed! ;)

Sasscer Hill said...

Thank you Shellie and Meg. Comments like your keep the muse alive!

Ricky Bush said...

Enjoyed the view from your insider horse racing experience. Good luck with your books.

Gloria Alden said...

I loved your first book, Sasser, and I have your second -Racing From Death, a signed copy from Malice, next to my nesting chair to start soon. I'm looking forward to it,

I heard the sports commentator from NPR state he thinks I'll Have Another and the jockey are great, but he's hoping they don't win the Belmont because both the owner and trainer have dubious morals and have been in trouble quite a few times - the trainer over drugging horses, and the owner for unethical business practices. He hates to see either of them getting any glory. What do you think?

Sasscer Hill said...

Gloria, there are others who feel that way about the trainer Doug O'neil. I have heard nothing negative about Reddam, the owner. I want "I'll Have Another" to win. He will get the glory, his dam, his sire, the hotwalkers, exercise rider, breeder, fans. There are many more involved than the trainer who will benefit and racing needs a triple crown winner. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it!

Sasscer Hill said...

NEWS ALERT "I'll Have Another" just drew the outside post11 in an eleven horse field. This is just fine as the race is a mile and a half and he has all the time in the world to position himself. Better than being crowded and bumped on the inside! So excited!

Gloria Alden said...

Okay, you're the authority, Sasser. The commentator said people wouldn't be as excited in the following years if someone finally won the triple crown - at least not for a long time. I plan on watching it on TV. You're lucky you can be there.

E. B. Davis said...

What time does the race start, Sasscer? We've been invited to dinner. I'll have to invent some excuse so we can be late. Is it a 6 p.m. start time?

Sasscer Hill said...

E.B., it usually goes off around six or six:thirty. I'll check and get back to you. Sasscer.

Mary Ellen Hughes said...

I've read all of Sasscer's books, including an early look at The Sea Horse Trade. They're all winners, in my opinion! Sasscer's knowledge and love of horses really comes through with her wonderful writing, and her characters and stories are great.