Christian horror is another of the genres she writes in-The Choice, Deeds of Darkness, and Cup of Demons are prime examples. She also has a chapter in the best seller, "THE PORTABLE WRITERS' CONFERENCE" from Quill Driver Press.
Also a writing teacher, Marilyn has been a featured speaker at several writers' conferences. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, EPIC, and the Public Safety Writers Association.
Marilyn is an inspiration to many writers, and she introduced me to that fabulous organization, PSWA. Welcome, Marilyn!
I'm not giving anything away to say that Stacy and Doug are on their way to the altar in Angel Lost. Once they get together, do you envision any changes in the Rocky Bluff series?
I’m not sure what’s going to happen with Stacey and Doug. What I do know is the next book in the series focuses on Gordon Butler—he’s the one that bad stuff happens to all the time. Of course Stacey and Doug are prominent in the book because they are Gordon’s best friends. I’m still editing that particular book.
In my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series I like to incorporate Native American legends. The Hairy Man is a legend of the Tule River Indians, the Indians who live on the reservation near me. I visited the pictographs of the Hairy Man and knew I had to write about him.
As for the angel’s appearance in Angel Lost, the idea also came from something that actually happened in a nearby town except it was Jesus’ face everyone thought they saw. For about two weeks crowds gathered around the carpet store window every night to view the face—until they figured out that the face was being caused by a reflection from a light across the street. I knew I had to include something like that in a book.
And now for the answer to your question about whether or not I’m attracted to the supernatural, yes. It’s fascinating. I like to write about ghosts too. And my husband and I have stayed in several haunted places on purpose like the Queen Mary and a hotel that is supposed to be haunted as well as a B and B where we stayed in the haunted room. We didn’t see any ghosts, unfortunately, though on the Queen Mary you could definitely feel a different atmosphere.
I've read and enjoyed both of the above series. Do you use a different approach for each series?
The Deputy Tempe Crabtree series mostly comes from Tempe’s point of view. In the latest, Invisible Path, the first chapter is from the point-of-view of the murder suspect, but that is an exception.
In the Rocky Bluff P.D. the point-of-view and scenes shift from different members of the police department and their families. My intention from the first book I wrote in this series was to show how the job affects the family and what’s going on in the family affects the job. Because each series is different from the other, I’m glad I’ve written them this way.
Your books are part police procedural, and you always include interesting technical details. Do you have a special advisor or resource you use?
The Rocky Bluff P.D. doesn’t have much money so they don’t have the up-to-date technical stuff a big city has, and in fact, they have to send off some of their evidence to the Ventura P.D. to be tested. This way I can really keep what happens centered on old-fashioned police work.
Tempe is a Native American resident deputy in a mountain community and things are done a bit different than they are in some other places. It really isn’t her job to do investigative work in a homicide, but she often does because she doesn’t think the detectives have chosen the right suspect. Over the years she’s gained the respect of the lead detective though she’s not always happy when he gives her the job of questioning Indians on the reservation as they are as suspicious of her as any other law enforcement officer.
As for advisors or resources, I am a member of the Public Safety Writers Association and friends with many law enforcement officers. I get some help from them and I’ve certainly asked them lots of questions. However, I always tell them that the Rocky Bluff P.D. is my police department and I can do it however I want.
What's next for you?
My next Tempe mystery is called Bears With Us and will be out sometime in the early fall. Bear Creek is being overrun with troublesome bears. This is another book I had lots of fun writing. No Bells is the next one in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.
I'm asking every writer I interview this month: Do you have any tips or tricks that will help authors with rewrites?
Oh, my goodness, I had such a terrible time with names of supporting characters in Bears With Us. I had them written down, but didn’t do enough checking and thought I could remember and mixed up names like Vera and Nora, and spelled names differently too. Thank goodness I had a great editor who caught the changes.
Another thing I did was mess up the time line, skipping a whole day. I kept a calendar of what happened each day, but I think when I got toward the end and so much was happening, I quit checking the time line. So—my advice is keep a good record of the characters’ names and check back to make sure you’re using the right on. And a timeline is always important—and don’t do like I did, keep it up to date.
Be sure to visit Marilyn's website and blog, Marilyn's Musings. You can order her books from the usual places, but don't forget the independent booksellers. Thank you, Marilyn!