<>

<>
.

Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Monday, October 5, 2015

a surprising connection - Stillwater: A Jack McBride Mystery by Melissa Lenhardt

Former FBI agent Jack McBride took the job as Chief of Police for Stillwater, Texas, to start a new life with his teenage son, Ethan, away from the suspicions that surrounded his wife’s disappearance a year earlier.
With a low crime rate and a five-man police force, he expected it to be a nice, easy gig;

Description:

Release Date: October 6th, 2015

Former FBI agent Jack McBride took the job as Chief of Police for Stillwater, Texas, to start a new life with his teenage son, Ethan, away from the suspicions that surrounded his wife’s disappearance a year earlier.

With a low crime rate and a five-man police force, he expected it to be a nice, easy gig; hot checks, traffic violations, some drugs, occasional domestic disturbances, and petty theft. Instead, within a week he is investigating a staged murder-suicide, uncovering a decades’ old skeleton buried in the woods, and managing the first crime wave in thirty years.

For help navigating his unfamiliar, small-town surroundings, Jack turns to Ellie Martin, one of the most respected women in town—her scandal-filled past notwithstanding. Despite Jack's murky marriage status and the disapproval of Ethan and the town, they are immediately drawn to each other.

As Jack and Ellie struggle with their budding relationship, they unearth shattering secrets long buried and discover the two cases Jack is working, though fifty years apart, share a surprising connection that will rattle the town to its core.

GUEST POST
Why a Small Town Setting?

My first reaction when I saw this blog subject was “Um... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.” I’ve lived so long with Stillwater as the setting I’d completely forgotten why I chose to base my mystery series there. It originated as the country setting for a modern day retelling of PERSUASION. When I switched it to a murder mystery, I kept the setting. Here’s why. 

Write What You Know (Not) - One of the basic tenets of writing is Write What You Know. The last thing I want to write about is the daily life of a suburban mom. Sure PTA meetings can be brutal, and in the right hands would be a great setting for a murder mystery (hmmm…), but I write to escape, to discover new worlds, not to relive my day. My life is ridiculously normal and wonderfully uneventful. 

While I can understand the impulse for people to think Stillwater, Texas, is a stand-in for my East Texas hometown, it truly isn’t. I don’t remember enough details about my childhood to include much of it in my fiction. So, to all my childhood friends, NONE OF THESE CHARACTERS ARE BASED ON YOU! EXCEPT THE GOOD PARTS! THOSE ARE BASED ON YOU.

What are the chances? - Most books have a limited cast of characters. Fact is, much of fiction is based on coincidence and coincidences are easier to swallow in a small, intimate setting. Sure, your investigator might run into someone on the NYC subway who gives them the last piece of the puzzle they need to solve the crime, but what are the chances? You don’t want your reader asking “What are the chances?” You want their suspension of disbelief to carry them through to the thrilling end.

Stranger in a Strange Land - One of the best ways to introduce a new setting to a reader is by using one of the oldest writing tropes in the book. Drop a character in an alien environment and watch their every preconceived notion be shattered under the weight of reality. Everyone expects big cities to be a cesspool of vice, corruption and murder. Small towns, though, are supposed to be our safe havens, where we see the very best of ourselves - friendly, upstanding, loyal and moral. Jack McBride takes the job in a small town because he thinks life as a single parent will be easier there and the crime rate is low. Easy life, easy job. Perfect for a disgraced former FBI agent. Unfortunately, there are just as many ugly undercurrents beneath Stillwater’s placid surface as Jack saw in the big city and he learns rather quickly that instead of moving to Mayberry, he’s moved to Twin Peaks.

And, that's fun to write.
About the author:
Melissa Lenhardt writes mystery, historical fiction, and women's fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in Heater Mystery Magazine, The Western Online, and Christmas Nookies, a holiday romance anthology.
Her debut novel, Stillwater, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers' MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest.

She is a board member of the DFW Writers' Workshop and vice president of the Sisters in Crime North Dallas Chapter.

Melissa lives in Texas, with her husband and two sons.

Author's Giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

2 comments:

Lance Wright said...

It's always interesting to learn how and why authors choose the settings they do. Thanks so much for sharing this inside information with your readers!

Starfire259 said...

I really enjoy interesting facts about the books authors write. History, culture, inspirations, etc. Thanks for sharing! I also am not sure what is required for the "Free Entry in the Rafflecopter Giveaway". Usually you just click "enter" and you are "entered". The entry doesn't require you to do anything. I don't know what I am supposed to fill in.