>>>Enter to win an electronic copy of Five Dog Voodoo<<<As Halloween approaches, engaged couple Mae December and Sheriff Ben Bradley have devoted all their energy to Ben’s campaign for reelection as sheriff of Rose County, Tennessee. The race is already too close to call when the sheriff’s office is hit with yet another maddeningly tricky murder case.
In recent years the town of Rosedale has had more than its fair share of murders, a fact Ben’s smarmy opponent is all too eager to exploit.Investigator Dory Clarkson and her friend, Counselor Evangeline Bon Temps, are visiting the mysterious Voodoo village when a resident tells them her granddaughter, Zoé Canja, is missing. Her dog, a Weimaraner nursing four pups, escapes the house and finds the young woman’s body in a shallow grave. Evangeline becomes Sheriff Ben Bradley’s unofficial consultant because her grandmother in Haiti and later her mother in New Orleans practiced Voodoo. A threatening symbol is left on the pavement by Dory’s front door, effectively banning her from the case. Evangeline and the sheriff’s office ask too many questions, and Evangeline soon wears out her welcome. Voodoo curses aside, Ben’s job is at stake, and no one associated with the case is safe until the killer is found.
Q: Thanks for stopping by Island Confidential! Can you tell us about your protagonist Mae?
A: At the start of the series, Mae December is twenty-nine. In her mid-twenties, she was engaged to Noah West, a country singer, who died in an automobile accident. After Noah died, she started her career in dog breeding and boarding. In the first book in the series, One Dog too Many, while out exercising some of the dogs she was boarding, Mae discovered her neighbor’s body which led her to meet Sheriff Ben Bradley. Mae comes from a fine family and is close to her sister (a designer) and her parents (mother Suzanne is a journalist; father Don is a photographer.) When Mae and Ben start dating and he discovers he has a little boy from an earlier relationship, Mae takes this in stride and learns to love little Matt and even forge a relationship with his mother, Katie. The biggest issue Mae had with Ben in the early days of their relationship was his unwillingness to involve her in his cases. He has slowly grown to appreciate her insights and thanks to Mae has solved a number of murders. They will be married in the final book of our series, Six Dogs ‘til Sunday.
Q: How much of you is in Mae? How would you feel about her if you met her in real life?
A: Mae is a sweetheart. She is loyal and kind. She is a big dog lover. These are the qualities I appreciate in her and hope to display in my own life. I am more driven and ambitious than Mae is. I would enjoy spending time with Mae and probably would find her relaxing.
Q: Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?
A: All of our main characters change and evolve throughout the series.
- Mae December is pretty stable as a character. She is grounded in her community. Her values are family loyalty and kindness. She is a great animal lover. She has conservative values with respect to love and marriage and insisted on being engaged before she would live with Ben Bradley and hopes to become pregnant soon after they are married. She wants to be married in a church.
- Ben Bradley, who was ambivalent about being Sheriff of Rose County in the first book, commits to the role in successive books and realizes it is a perfect career for him by the end of the series. A lot of his acceptance of the role is due to his love for Mae December, her help with his cases and his creation of a team at work.
- Dory, the Sheriff’s office manager, is a restless soul. She tried to become a deputy, but couldn’t pass the physical. She becomes an investigator for the office, but often wishes she had more responsibility. She’s funny and smart and her sense of humor helps her through her frustrations. She is divorced from her first husband, a musician, and is now dating a retired well-to-do man.
- Wayne Nichols, the main detective in the series, is bedeviled by his family and his past. He failed to save his foster mother from an abusive marriage which weighed heavily on him for years. In “Five Dog Voodoo” his hatred for spouse abusers leads him to use excessive force on a suspect, coercing a confession. Wayne’s boss, Sheriff Bradley, sends him to a psychologist to work through his issues, which Wayne resents but reluctantly concedes may be helpful. In addition to seeing his foster mother abused, Wayne’s foster brother was murdered. It took him years, but eventually he got the killing pinned on the right person. He is still a long way from accepting himself. He is dating Lucy Ingram, M.D. and has immense respect for her. Their relationship has deepened over time, and Wayne has changed because of it.
Q: Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?
A: One of the victims was inspired by a real person—can’t tell you which one!
Q: How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?
A: Our setting is quite realistic. There is an actual town in Tennessee very much like Rosedale.
Q: When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?
A: Oh what a great question! We would like to see:
- Patrick Dempsey play Sheriff Ben Bradley
- Katherine Heigl play Mae December
- Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Wayne Nichols—although he would need to look older
- Loretta Devine would make a great Dory
Q: What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?
A: I think the worst advice I ever received was to give up and not pursue a literary agent or publisher and just self-publish. While it works for many people, they don’t sell nearly as well. The best advice I’ve ever heard was to access my sub-conscious by taking long walks in nature, long baths and remembering what I think of first thing in the morning. That’s when answers to writing problems often crop up.