What is your latest project? Tell us about it.
My latest project, which Terry is pitching for me is a mystery set in the beautiful Ozark Mountains where I live. Cassie Richards, whose parents were town trash, drug dealers, you name it, has come a long way from her upbringing. She has a thriving business, an elegant home, a good bank account, and none of it matters anymore. Her sister, LeAnn is missing. Cassie leaves town and goes to Tolbert Springs determined to find her sister, even though Police Chief Ike Carpenter has made it clear he doesn’t want her help. Cassie soon finds she has an unknown enemy in Tolbert Springs, and as several attempts are made on her life, she finds she is turning to Kip Horton, reporter at the local paper for help. Cassie, who accidentally killed a man, doesn’t think she’s good enough for Kip and the people he goes to church with, but God has plans for Cassie Richards, and when He gives, it’s full measure, tamped down, and running over.
How did you research for this book?
We often hear true stories of serial killers, psychopaths, people who do terrible things, yet live normal lives, often working in the community or church. Their neighbors are astounded that that nice person they know and trust could be guilty of such horrible crimes. The monster living among us, the darker side of human nature and what it does to its victims. I read a lot of those stories and I tried to imagine what I would do if someone I loved disappeared, and found it was too horrible to contemplate. I understood how Cassie felt, her pain became my pain. And I knew what it was like to stray from God and have to find my way back. The setting is at a lake where my family and I go every summer for a week. I’ve walked around that lake, sat on the dock, seen the herons and otter. I could picture it in my mind, and picture Cassie walking where I had walked.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
From many places, stories I hear, comments someone makes. I collect newspaper articles about crimes that grab my attention. And I get inspiration from my own life, my fears, my desires, and from the lives of my family and friends. I carry a small notebook with me everywhere to jot down those little snippets I might be able to use later.
What has been the hardest part of writing your latest book and how did you overcome it?
The hardest part was thinking of how I would feel if a member of my family disappeared. We have a family in our area whose daughter disappeared ten years ago. Nothing has ever been found that would point to where she is. I know that mother’s pain, and sometimes I had to put that aside, concentrate on Cassie, and remember this was just a book, not something that really had happened.
What do you hope people will take away from reading your book?
That we can never run so far from God that we can’t come back. And that no matter how dark our valley, God is there, and He’s our light.
What new projects are you working on?
I have just finished a manuscript set on Dauphin Island, Alabama where I went with my sister and her family two years ago. It’s a mystery, of course, a young woman is forced to go back to Dauphin Island because her grandmother needs her. But Kelsie fled the island the year she graduated from high school because someone tried to kill her. She doesn’t know who her enemy is, but she does know he’s still after her because every year on the anniversary of the time he tried to kill her she gets flowers. The first year she also got a book of the language of flowers, and the offerings she receives mean things like rejected, deceit, heartbroken. Now she has to spend a week on the island, and she’s afraid she’ll never leave alive.
Now I’m working on a humorous mystery about five women in their sixties who decide to start a murder solving club. There hasn’t been a murder in their town in years, but it isn’t long before they stumble over a body and end up being the prime suspects. I’m having fun with it.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing? The programs and speaking that you do?
I have a website, http://www.barbarawarrenbluemountainedit.com I also send out a monthly online newsletter featuring writing news, book reviews, wacky news stories, and writing tips.
What is the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?
The best writing advice was to be myself. The worst was to pick out my favorite author and try to write like her.
Anything else you’d like to take this opportunity to say?
I appreciate the opportunity to interact with other writers. Only another writer can understand the pain of rejection, or the joy of acceptance. And I’m grateful for a hard working agent like Terry Burns who does so much for his clients. He’s truly a blessing.