Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Gun for a Pillow

Our Salad Bowl Saturday guest today is returning author Rebecca Jean Downey, whose second novel, Devil Eye was released March 4, 2014. She asks a thought-provoking question regarding author motivation as you'll read below. I'm interested in seeing the response readers and authors will have to her poser.


© Lecajun | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Guns are a weighty subject, but I finally got the courage to tackle them in my second book, Devil Eye, released on March 4, 2014. Writing a thriller about firearms can create a stir, so I run the risk of generating an armory full of hate mail. But as an author and former journalist who lives on the U.S.-Mexico border, I am drawn to subjects of controversy and pain. There are fascinating stories everywhere, and I must select carefully those I would fictionalize.

When I first queried agents for The Middle Eye a few years ago, most said they couldn’t get “all that excited” about the border. This only made me redouble my efforts to examine issues facing the citizens who live across the Rio Grande from me, and then to write about some of the most chilling of circumstances.

I would ask you, is there an issue or a story left untold in your community? Who will be sharing it with the world, if not you?

I made the decision to write what was important for the rest of the nation to know, whether or not someone in publishing is excited about it or not. For me it’s not just about selling my work, it’s about making my readers more aware of the steady infiltration of drug cartels and human smugglers into our nation’s cities and into major banks and businesses. I tackle the financial implications of money laundering in my third book, Unbridled Eye, now in the works.

In high school I was inspired by writers such as Sinclair Lewis, J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee, John Steinbeck and Harriet Beecher Stowe. President Abraham Lincoln, upon meeting Stowe, was reported to have said about her novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”

I would challenge each of us to remember those writers who went before us. They used their writing ability to share freely and well about what kept them up at night. How about you? How are you using your words to inspire and to impact lives? And if you are doing so, are you sleeping better because of it? I would like to hear from you.


Rebecca Jean Downey has a way of pulling you into her stories. You don't want to put her books  down until you make sure her characters survive! She graduated from the Indiana University School of Journalism, and has had a lifelong fascination with the law. She read Sherlock Holmes in elementary school, and has devoured hundreds of mystery novels over her lifetime.  She finally realized that her home in El Paso, Texas was a perfect backdrop for sharing the haunting and sometimes horrifying headlines generated on the U.S.-Mexico border.

To learn more, her website is or you can follow her Author Facebook Page 


  1. Writing crime fiction is a great way to present issues and problems that are present in society. I've written a number of stories with a protagonist who lives on the fringes of his or her society and has to deal with problems like discrimination.

  2. Rebecca, the publishers who couldn't "get excited" about the setting of your story must not be paying attention to the news - and the dramatic potential of the stories of those living near the border. One of my all time favorite books is Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Saenz. It's about young people living in the physical and cultural borderland you speak of - it is one of the most maddeningly beautiful and tragic books I've encountered.
    I know I haven't answered your question - because my short story and work in progress are a bit lighter and don't revolve around big issues - but at the heart of every mystery is a desire for justice. My justice is provided by a distractingly beautiful detective, which lets me have a say about the ways women are perceived in society.
    Best wishes for the success of your series.

  3. Rebecca, I consider To Kill a Mockingbird one of my all time favorite books, not only because of the characters, but because of the message this southern writer had the courage to put out there. One of my two book clubs is reading Uncle Tom's Cabin this month. I read it in college and wrote an extensive research paper on what I perceived was the catalyst that led Stowe to write the book. We had to discuss what our paper would be about to the professor in advance. When I told him, he totally disagreed with my premise, but I went ahead and wrote the paper anyway. I not only got a perfect grade on it, but he wanted to send a copy to a Stowe scholar he knew. So now I'm reading this book again and seeing what a brave and perceptive writer she was.

  4. I think of the great satirists who use humor to prod the underbelly of establishment. Would that I had there talent; there is certainly much about today that could use prodding.

    Thanks for joining us today Rebecca.

    ~ Jim

  5. I like to to think I impact lives for the better. And I hope I raise issues in my writing that address social problems. One of the things I try to do is to give voice to people who live and struggle on the fringes of society.