With her short-cropped gray hair and dark skin, Cassie was
part mother hen, part Amazon warrior queen.
Annette Dashofy, Where the Guilty Hide, Kindle Loc. 78
I was glued to the pages of Annette Dashofy’s first book, Where the Guilty Hide, in her new series. Main characters photographer Emma Anderson and police detective Matthias Honeywell are equally compelling characters. However, Matthias’s boss/partner, Detective Cassie Malone, competes with them in popularity.
Emma’s on the run from an abusive relationship and trying to find her drug-addicted younger sister. Both women are damaged by their parents’ deaths. Matthias has family and women issues. Cassie is a grandmother, and she can’t seem to refrain from match-making single women and Matthias. It’s a triangle bound for trouble.
Please ask Annette questions using our comments area. E. B. Davis
About your new publisher, Annette—One More Chapter is a global division of HarperCollins. I downloaded my copy from a UK site, but I noticed that your punctuation is American. How did the deal come about? Is it digital only? How did you decide about that?
My amazing agent, Dawn Dowdle, negotiated the deal with One More Chapter, and yes, they’re one of HarperCollins’s UK imprints. I’m definitely learning as I go. Having previously been published by a small press, I can tell you this is a whole new ballgame. OMC publishes digital FIRST, meaning Where the Guilty Hide will be released on January 20 in eBook format with print coming later. I know the UK print release date is March 2, but I haven’t heard when it will be available here. Thankfully, I’m content to let it play out and see how it goes. As for the formatting, I wrote the manuscript the same as I always do, and I wasn’t sure if they would convert it to UK formatting or not. I’m glad they left it. The series is set here after all. But if they’d changed it, hey, as long as they send the royalties to me here in the US, I’m fine with whatever!
The series is named A Detective Honeywell mystery. Does that mean he is the main character? Since the book is written from Matthias and Emma’s POV, I thought they shared the title.
This is another one of those learning curves, from small press to big-five, items. They have a team who makes decisions. When I submitted to them, I called it the Lake Erie Mystery Series, and my title was Rule of Thirds, because Emma is a photographer. The OMC/HC marketing team made the changes to both, with my consent, of course. Yes, while I’d thought of Matthias and Emma having joint “ownership” of the series, it does seem that Matthias is now the lead.
Your story is set in Erie, PA. Are you familiar with the city and area? Have you experienced the lake-effect snows?
My husband and I have been going to Erie and Presque Isle to vacation for decades. Plus I teach at a writing conference in Erie every October. I’ve wanted to set a series there for quite a while because of the diversity of locations. There are lakeside mansions and there are areas of deep poverty. I can find a place that makes sense for any type of story and stay within the city. I admit, I’ve never experienced winter at the lake, but even here in southwestern Pennsylvania, we get some of the lake-effect snowstorms. But we’ll get a foot, and they’ll get six!
This book had no horses. Why? When will they show up? If Emma can ride a bike, surely she knows how to ride horses.
And no cats either!
Emma grew up on a farm and had horses. Matthias grew up in Oklahoma and his mom was a champion barrel racer (backstory that we haven’t gotten to yet), so he also grew up riding horses. While neither have horses right now, I can see their mutual love of equines coming into play in a future book.
Describe the area of Presque Isle peninsula and its relationship to the city and lake for readers. I was at first confused by a bay within a lake. And that the peninsula, jutting out into the lake, was actually a state park.
As you say, Presque Isle is a peninsula jutting out into Lake Erie, but it also curves back toward the city, producing a bay. The northern side of the peninsula faces the lake. Canada is across the lake, but you can’t see it, so from the beach, Lake Erie looks a lot like the ocean. The city of Erie sits on the southern shores of the lake and bay. Presque Isle peninsula is indeed a state park and is gorgeous. Besides the beaches along the lakeside, there are hiking and biking trails, lagoons, and lots of wildlife. One time, while bike riding, we encountered a much-too-tame coyote that was eyeballing the wild geese at the shore’s edge. We immediately rode to the park office to report him to the rangers!
The scenario you describe of the home invasion can lead to confusing a victim with a perpetrator. I can understand why people could distrust the police in such a situation. How did the husband, Wesley, create police suspicion, at least Cassie’s, of his working with the home invaders?
Wesley’s escape from being tied up felt “too easy” to Cassie. She wanted to keep the possibility of him being an insider with the gang as an option to counter Matthias’s concerns about Wesley trying to be a hero. She knew Matthias’s history with a similar situation and feared he’d fixate on that one scenario.
Emma is on the run from an abusive boyfriend, Clay. Even though she was his victim, she’s trying to help her drug addicted little sister, Nell, who disappeared in Erie. Was Emma’s victim status temporary? How did Emma realize that she was a victim and get away?
Emma and her sister are both emotionally wounded. Nell turned to self-medicating to deal with her loss. Emma sought comfort in Clay’s charms. But like so many abusive men, while he started out charming, he soon revealed his true colors, cutting Emma off from her sister and her home. Ultimately, it took a while for Emma to see him as he truly was, at which point she planned her escape to Erie, a town she was familiar with and where she knew Nell had recently been. As for Emma’s victim status being temporary, I think she’s toughened up by the end of the book to some degree, but still has some work to do on herself.
Is it common that abuse victims “see” their tormentors everywhere?
I’m not a psychologist but I believe there’s an element of PTSD involved. Emma’s waiting for her nightmare to return. She wants to believe she’s safe but knows she’s not. So she expects Clay to jump out of the bushes at her at any moment.
What is the “rule of thirds composition?”
If you imagine a camera viewfinder (or a canvas in art) and draw imaginary lines in the form of a large hashtag (#) over the viewfinder or canvas, points of interest need to fall along the lines or where the lines intersect. For example, in a portrait, the subject’s eyes should align with the top horizontal line. In a landscape, the horizon should fall on one of those horizontal lines rather than in the middle. If a landscape has one tall tree, it should be placed on one of the vertical lines. That’s oversimplifying it, but it gives you an idea. In this book, “thirds” also seem to apply to the crime spree. The burglaries are happening three to a city.
When Emma first meets Matthias, she thinks that he is Clay, her abusive boyfriend. But even when she knows he’s a police detective, Matthias scares her with his intensity. Why is Matthias so intense?
When Emma accidentally takes a picture of a murder victim hidden under floating junk at the water’s edge, she doesn’t realize that the murder victim is her neighbor Joe Platt’s son-in-law. Why don’t Joe and his daughter get along?
Joe’s son-in-law has some of the same traits as Emma’s ex-boyfriend in that he’s controlling. He has done his best to drive a wedge between Joe and his daughter. Joe sees the son-in-law for what he truly is, but his daughter is the dutiful wife who only sees Joe as critical of the man she married.
Matthias doesn’t have a great history with women. Hasn’t he sought counseling? He must consider himself an abuse victim, or can’t he see that?
Funny that you mention Matthias being a victim of abuse. He absolutely does not see himself that way. As I mentioned, he has a dark past that I hope to explore in book #3 when all his demons come calling. The only counseling he’s had was with the department’s therapist following his earlier partner’s death. Matthias tends to take out his frustration on the heavy bag in the gym. As for women, he’s been deeply hurt twice when he’s made bad choices.
The county has a coroner and a forensic pathologist? Where does one job end and the other begin?
The coroner is an elected official and may have medical training, but often does not. The forensic pathologist is a specially trained physician who is qualified to perform clinical autopsies. If the elected coroner doesn’t have these medical qualifications, a forensic pathologist is called in as needed and they work together. Some counties use a Medical Examiner system instead of a coroner system. In those cases, the ME, who is hired rather than elected, is also a forensic pathologist.
What’s next for Matthias, Emma, and Cassie?
As I write this, I’m working on the second Detective Honeywell mystery, which is due to my editor on February 1. In it, Matthias is working multiple cases when a man turns up shot to death in a residential alley after leaving his favorite bar with a mysterious blonde. Additionally, a young woman has vanished while walking home from work, although there’s some question as to whether her disappearance is a matter for law enforcement, or whether she simply ran off with a rich boyfriend. Emma’s drug-addicted sister Nell, however, remains missing and in danger. Emma continues to search for her, but it’s Matthias who finds more than Emma wants to know.