New Paramedic Mystery and Guest Post from Annette Dashofy

>>>Enter to win a signed print copy of No Way Home<<<
A relaxing trail ride turns tragic when Paramedic and Deputy Coroner Zoe Chambers discovers the body of a popular county commissioner in her Pennsylvania woods.
Inconsistencies surround the horrible accident, but before she can investigate further, she’s pried away by a plea for help from her best friend whose son has been deemed a person of interest in a homicide over a thousand miles away. When he vanishes without a trace, his mother begs Zoe to help clear him and bring him safely home. The task takes Zoe out of her comfort zone in a frantic trip to the desolate canyons and bluffs of New Mexico where she joins forces with the missing boy’s sister and a mysterious young Navajo.
Back at home, Vance Township’s Chief of Police Pete Adams must deal not only with the commissioner’s homicide, but with an influx of meth and a subsequent rash of drug overdoses in his rural community. Bodies keep turning up while suspects keep disappearing. However little else matters when he learns that half a continent away, a brutal killer has Zoe in his sights.


Guest Post: A Fish Out of Water

Last fall, I participated in a library tour as part of a local authors panel. As the only panelist writing a series, one question repeatedly directed to me was, “What would you do differently in book #1 if you could go back?”

While first creating a series character, we authors try to give them a history, some secrets, and a few loveable quirks. These get rewritten many many times over the years it takes to find a publisher. But once the book is in print, you’re locked in. No more changing a name. No more tweaking those loveable quirks, which can—over time—become annoying habits.

Kind of like with spouses.

Wait. Did I say that? Moving on…

First of all, I would not have named the county coroner Franklin Marshall. It’s a great name, except that both names could be first or last. Paramedic and Deputy Coroner Zoe Chambers, who’s closer to him personally, thinks of him as Franklin. Chief Pete Adams thinks of him as Marshall. I fear some folks start to wonder if they’re two different guys.

Secondly, I’m not so sure if Zoe’s quirk of being a deputy coroner who can’t stand the smells in autopsy, as well as her whole inner turmoil about that career choice, was a good idea. I’ve gradually transitioned her away from the problem, although I can’t completely ignore her issues. Readers may think her growing competence has to do with her character development (and who am I to argue?), but between you and me, I simply became annoyed by what was becoming less of a quirk and more of a weakness.

The biggest change I would have made is I would have started the series earlier in Pete and Zoe’s relationship. By the time we meet them in Circle of Influence, Pete has been the police chief of rural Vance Township for a number of years, having previously been a city cop in Pittsburgh. I wish I’d shown him as more of a fish out of water playing against Zoe, the lifelong resident and farm girl.

You see, I’m really enamored of the whole fish-out-water scenario. In No Way Home, Zoe finally has a case with the coroner’s office she can dig her investigative teeth into, but her best friend Rose begs her to travel out west, where Rose’s son and his girlfriend are missing. The trip means leaving her case—and Pete—behind and plunging into the unfamiliar badlands of New Mexico where she has no sense of direction and no idea of whom she can trust.

As a lifelong Pennsylvania farmgal myself, I drew on my personal experiences from my first trip out west a few years ago. Like Zoe, I said “wow” about a hundred times, annoying the heck out of my traveling companions. Like Zoe, I had a horrible time with distance and direction. And like Zoe, I fell in love with the wide-open spaces.

Now I’m wondering if Zoe might not someday return to the Land of Enchantment. She could still be that fish out of water. After all, I’ve been out there four times now and still manage to get lost.


About The Author  

Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE, published by Henery Press, was afinalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and for the David Award for Best Mystery of 2014. LOST LEGACY, was released in September 2014 followed in April 2015 by BRIDGES BURNED, which has been nominated for the Agatha for Best Contemporary Novel. BRIDGES was followed by WITH A VENGEANCE. NO WAY HOME is the most recent book in the series.

Keep up with Annette

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#Giveaway and Guest Post: Annette Dashofy, author of With a Vengeance

>>Enter to win a signed copy of With a Vengeance<<<

Paramedic Zoe Chambers and the rest of rural Monongahela County’s EMS and fire personnel are used to wading into the middle of trouble to rescue the sick and the injured.

But when someone with an ax to grind seeks retribution by staging accident scenes and gunning down the first responders, Zoe finds herself forced to not only treat her own brethren of the front lines, but also, in her role as deputy coroner, seek out whoever is killing her friends. At the same time, Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams races to track down a gun, a mysterious all-terrain vehicle, and the sniper before Zoe goes back on duty, placing herself—and Pete—firmly in the gunman’s crosshairs.


 

 


When I started writing the Zoe Chambers mystery series a few years back, one of the first things I decided on—besides the main characters of Zoe and Pete—was the location. I knew I wanted to set the series here in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, but I opted against using the real towns and municipalities.

My reasons for setting the stories locally were numerous. I know the area. No need to travel for research. No need to learn about quirky customs or manners. I grew up around them! And although we’re in the middle of farm country, crime exists. I liked the idea of writing about small town crime being as deadly as anything you’ll find in the city. I can write about corrupt politicians. I can also write about a body discovered in a bin of potatoes in a farmer’s root cellar.

My reasons for creating a fictionalized version of my corner of the world are less numerous. One: I wanted to be able to move things around and merge three different townships into one. If I had done this using the correct names for places, my readers who live around here would have nailed me to the wall. As is, they take great pleasure in announcing that they recognize that store or that road! Two: I’m not a police officer, but I write police procedure. While I try to stay accurate, if I do get something wrong, I can always say, “That’s how it’s done in Monongahela County!”

One thing that’s very real is the Kroll farmhouse, where Zoe lives in the first three books. It’s the house in which I grew up. My grandparents’ house. While the real structure was razed years ago, having Zoe live there has allowed me to keep my memories alive. Having said that, let me tell you I had not intended for Bridges Burned to end the way it did. Sometimes we authors write the stories. Sometimes they take over and write themselves. Such was the case, and I wasn’t at all happy about it. However, I’ve gone through the seven stages of grief and have moved on.

Zoe’s still working on it.

In With a Vengeance I bring back a number of locations that have shown up or been talked about in earlier books. The reclaimed strip minds known as the Cuts are real. I’ve always thought there was something vaguely sinister about them. A great place for a murder! Same with the State Game Lands. Easy access, and yet desolate. It’s one of my favorite places to drop a body.

Fictionally, of course.

Locations aren’t the only reason I chose to write about this area. The people are as varied as the topography. In With a Vengeance, the characters range from attorneys to mechanics to farmers to survivalists. Hunting is big business around here, so even knowing the murder weapon is a specific kind of deer rifle doesn’t narrow down the list of suspects.

 

Finally, I admit I’m obsessed with setting. I love reading books that take me someplace I’ve never been—or take me someplace I know quite well. I hope my readers have the same experience with my series, whether they’re experiencing Pennsylvania for the first time, or whether they think of Pete and Zoe as their neighbors.


About The Author  

Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE, published by Henery Press, was afinalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and for the David Award for Best Mystery of 2014. LOST LEGACY, was released in September 2014 followed in April 2015 by BRIDGES BURNED, which has been nominated for the Agatha for Best Contemporary Novel. WITH A VENGEANCE, the fourth in the series, will be available May 3.

Keep up with Annette

Blog  | Facebook  | Website | Twitter | Henery Press | Amazon | B&N | Kobo

 


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