Friday, March 27, 2015

Celebrating Women's History Month #5: Serie-ous and Stand-Alone Women

Here at Midnight Ink Headquarters, we find that the best way to celebrate Women's History Month is to talk to our authors whose books feature strong female protagonists. Every day this week, return to this blog to find out more about the ladies portrayed in our various series and stand-alone releases this year!

Don't miss our previous posts in this series!
Day 1Day 2Day 3, and Day 4.

Maegan Beaumont

Maegan Beaumont's longtime love of action movies inspired her to begin writing stories of her own. Carved in Darkness, the first Sabrina Vaughn Novel, was a Suspense Magazine Best Debut of 2013 and a Library Journal Debut of the Month. Beaumont is a member of Sisters in Crime. Visit her online at

To her very core, Sabrina is a fighter. Her strength and resiliency never ceases to amaze me. No matter what I throw at her, she keeps coming back. For her family, for the people she loves, there isn’t much she won’t do. Even when she’s battling her own demons, she’s there for the people who need her. She’s constantly surprising me and I think that’s what keeps me interested in her as a character.

In Promises to Keep (August 8, 2015), Sabrina must help Michael find and rescue the grandson of a U.S. senator from a ruthless drug lord who is hell bent on revenge and targeting them both.

Mark Stevens 

Mark Stevens worked as a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, The Rocky Mountain News, The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour and The Denver Post. He now owns his own public relations firm. Stevens is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the Colorado Authors League. Visit him online at

Allison Coil was inspired by a real-life female hunting guide with a ferocious tenacity for outdoor life and sincere enthusiasm for every rugged aspect of it. Allison’s strength comes from her protective of the Flat Tops Wilderness—it’s where she recovered following a commercial airplane crash. In Lake of Fire (September 8, 2015), a massive wildfire is wiping out precious hunting grounds and threatens the ranch owned by her boyfriend’s family. The murder of an offbeat environmentalist—the body is found near where the fire started—sends Allison burrowing into a world of anti-government haters who harbor grim messages and evil plans. 

Laura DiSilverio

Laura DiSilverio's novel Swift Run (Minotaur) was nominated as a finalist in the 2013 Colorado Book Awards. She has received starred reviews from Booklist, and Suspense Magazine named Die Buying (Berkley Prime Crime) as one of the top mysteries of 2011. Laura is a former president of Sisters in Crime. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and can be found online at

In The Reckoning Stones (September 8, 2015) Iris Dashwood suffered sexual abuse during her childhood and had the wound immeasurably enlarged by her parents' refusal to believe her. She ran away at fifteen and lived by her wits for three years before meeting Jane who took her in and shared her passion for art. Twenty years later, Iris uses her jewelry-making to work through her emotions, but when her creativity fails her, she returns to her previous home and confronts the Community that shunned her. She had put her faith in her physical strength and fighting ability, but discovers that true strength lies in forgiveness.

Catriona McPherson

Catriona McPherson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and is the author of critically-acclaimed stand-alones for Midnight Ink, including: Anthony Award-winning and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2013, As She Left It; Edgar-nominated The Day She Died; and Come to Harm. She also writes the Dandy Gilver historical mystery series (Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books). McPherson is the president of Sisters in Crime and a member of Mystery Writers of America. Visit her online at

Like Etsuko, Mariko and Yuko, my office-mates at Edinburgh University in the nineties, and like me in America now, Keiko Nishisato in Come to Harm (May 8, 2015) is thousands of miles from home in an alien culture.  It’s hard  to know how much of what seems suspicious is just unknown. Maybe she’ll settle down in this little Scottish town and get used to the people she has met there, or maybe those people really are harbouring dark secrets and she really is in deep trouble. Crucially, Keiko knows—her mother has taught her—how to be a “good girl”. It’s the perfect disguise.

In The Child Garden (September 8, 2015), Gloria Harkness is the single parent of a profoundly disabled teenaged son. She lives alone in an isolated farmhouse near his care home. Many people would look at Gloria and see tragedy, but she feels lucky. She is lonely though and her life is a quiet one. So, when a childhood friend reappears, she doesn’t question why. And then, when adventures offer themselves, she plunges in. What I love about Gloria is her sense of life’s possibilities and her dawning belief in herself. She’s bookish, imaginative and very kind. If I knew her in real life I’d want her as my friend.  

Thanks for celebrating Women's History Month with us!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Celebrating Women's History Month #4: Serie-ous Women

Here at Midnight Ink Headquarters, we find that the best way to celebrate Women's History Month is to talk to our authors whose books feature strong female protagonists. Every day this week, return to this blog to find out more about the ladies portrayed in our various series and stand-alone releases this year!

Don't miss our previous posts in this series!
Day 1Day 2, and Day 3.

Linda Joffe Hull

Linda Joffe Hull is on the national board of Mystery Writers of America and is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Awarded the 2013 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Writer of the Year Award, Hull is the author of the Mrs. Frugalicious Shopping Mystery series for Midnight Ink and has also published The Big Bang with Tyrus Books. A native of St. Louis, Hull now lives in Denver with her husband and three children. Visit her online at or at

Maddie Michaels is the wife of TV financial guru Frank Finance Michaels. When he loses all their money in a Ponzi scheme, she reinvents herself as bargain shopper/coupon clipper Mrs. Frugalicious to save the family from financial ruin. Luckily, Maddie is able to look at the dire situations she faces with humor and optimism.  In her latest adventure, Sweetheart Deal (November 8, 2015)Maddie is in Mexico finding deals on destination weddings and timeshares. When faced with both murder and the maddening issue of playing happily married for her new reality show, The Family Frugalicious, she does so with her trademark pluck.

Sallie Bissell

Sallie Bissell is the author of the award-winning Mary Crow mystery series. A native of Nashville, Tennessee, she graduated from Peabody College (now part of Vanderbilt University) and now resides in Asheville, North Carolina. Bissell is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. Visit her online at

Mary Crow was born because I find people who bridge different cultures fascinating. Mary’s half-Cherokee, half-white. She works in an urban, male-dominated American legal system; yet she was raised in the mountains, in the more matrilineal traditions of the Cherokees. The murder of her mother devastated her, but ultimately led her to become a take-no-prisoners criminal prosecutor. Over the years, though, she’s realized that guilt is not often black or white, but gray. In Judgment of Whispers (September 8, 2015), new evidence reopens an old murder case and reawakens rumors that have never died. Mary must find the truth amid some horrific innuendo.

D. A. Keeley

D.A. Keeley has published widely in the crime-fiction genre and is the author of six other novels, as well as short stories and essays. In addition to being a teacher and department chair at the Northfield Mount Hermon School, and a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Keeley writes a bi-weekly post for the blog Type M for Murder. Keeley divides his time between Massachusetts and Maine. You can learn more about the author and series at: or on Twitter @DAKeeleyAuthor.

Peyton Cote is a single mother and a top-flight US Customs and Border Protection agent. I love writing her for many reasons—she’s dedicated, tough, and smart -- but she also struggles, like any single parent, to balance her work and home lives. Her strength is founded upon her childhood: she was raised in the farming community where she now works, and she knows what it feels like to lose it all—her family did; they lost the farm, literally. This offers both internal struggle and great empathy when dealing with the people a border patrol agent typically deals with, those individuals desperate to better their lives and the lives of their loved ones. These conflicts are never more apparent than in Fallen Sparrow (June 8, 2015), where Peyton’s past (in the form of a long-lost friend) collides with her duties as a CPB agent, and the teacher of her son, who has just been diagnosed with dyslexia, is smack dab in the middle of it all. 

Nina Milton

Nina Milton has been publishing short stories and children’s books for thirty years. She has won many literary competitions, including the Crossroads Competition, Kent Festival Prize and the Wells Literary Short Story Competition. Milton holds her Masters in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. Milton, a Druid, drew from her background to create the realistic depiction of shamanism presented in the Shaman Mystery series. Visit Milton online at

As a hard-knock kid, Sabbie Dare knew she was different—she saw through the veil that hides other planes of existence. 

Now she has a shamanic therapy business, she’s still facing trouble because clients bring danger with them. 

In Beneath the Tor (December 8, 2015), a friend dies after a night of dancing, and Sabbie investigates the abusive emails the bereaved husband receives. Sabbie can’t resist untangling this mystery, using confused help from the spirit world, but to get closer to the truth, she must penetrate the deranged mind of a killer, whose madness is taking down innocent victims, one by one.

Return to this blog tomorrow for our final round-up, including: Maegan Beaumont, Mark Stevens, Laura DiSilverio, and Catriona McPherson!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Celebrating Women's History Month #3: Longest-Running Ladies

Here at Midnight Ink Headquarters, we find that the best way to celebrate Women's History Month is to talk to our authors whose books feature strong female protagonists. Every day this week, return to this blog to find out more about the ladies portrayed in our various series and stand-alone releases this year!

Don't miss our previous posts in this series!
Day 1 and Day 2.

Sue Ann Jaffarian

Sue Ann Jaffarian is the author of the Madison Rose, Ghost of Granny Apples, and award-winning Odelia Grey mystery series. Her books have been lauded in The New York Times and optioned for television. In addition to writing, Jaffarian works full time as a paralegal in Los Angeles and is widely sought after as a humorous motivational speaker. Visit to learn more about the author. 

I decided to create the character of Odelia Grey for many reasons:
  1. Since I’m a middle-aged, plus-size paralegal myself, I already had certain character traits and career information to draw upon, making it easier to kick-start the series;
  2. I felt the mystery genre was already full of women who could run 5 miles and still shoot  the label off a beer bottle while it teetered on a fence. Odelia is an ordinary woman with no super powers or talents;
  3. I felt middle-aged women were under-represented in the genre, and plus-size women definitely were. I wanted to show the mystery reading community that a fat mature woman could be smart and sexy and intuitive. She didn’t always have to be the chubby friend who watched the purses while her friends had a good time.

In book after book, Odelia is constantly called upon to dig deep inside herself and pull out strength and courage she didn’t know she possessed to help people and to keep herself and her loved ones out of danger.  This is especially true in A Body To Spare (November 8, 2015) when her mother’s life is in danger and Odelia herself is the center of the investigation. A Body To Spare also explores one of her more puzzling relationships with someone on the wrong side of the law.

When asked in interviews to sum up the character of Odelia Grey, I say:  She doesn’t see the world through rose-colored glasses, but through Groucho Marx glasses.

Jess Lourey

Jess Lourey is the author of the Lefty-nominated Murder-by-Month mysteries set in Battle Lake, Minn. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, The Loft, and a founding faculty member of Mystery Writers of America's MWA University. Lourey resides in Minneapolis, where she is a professor of writing and sociology. For more information, visit her online at

Mira James is flawed, authentic, and constantly evolving. Those qualities make her strong, but they also make it hard for her to relax. In February Fever (February 8, 2015), she comes face to face with a childhood fear, juggles a long-distance relationship, has to solve a murder on a speeding train, and loses someone very close to her. Her greatest strength—her ability to find the humor in even the darkest situation—is put to the test like never before in the 10th book in the Murder-by-Month mysteries.

Kathleen Ernst

Kathleen Ernst is an award-winning author, educator, and social historian. Her past work as an Interpreter and Curator of Interpretations and Collections at Old World Wisconsin inspired the Chloe Ellefson mysteries. The series won the Lovey Award for Best Traditional Mystery (The Light Keeper's Legacy) and the Anne Powers Fiction Book Award (The Heirloom Murders). Visit her online at

Chloe is the curator of collections at Old World Wisconsin, a large living history museum where I used to work.  She has survived personal loss, and derives some of her inner strength from the long-gone women she discovers through her work.  Countless women in the 19th century managed to cope with challenges and problems that are almost unimaginable today.  Their stories are inspirational.

In Death on the Prairie (October 8, 2015), Chloe and her sister Kari set off on a road trip to explore Laura Ingalls Wilder homesites.  Personal revelations (and a murder or two) challenge Chloe’s relationships with Kari, and with her cop-boyfriend back home.

Sheila Webster Boneham

Sheila Webster Boneham is the author of the Animals in Focus mystery series. Drop Dead on Recall, the first in the series, won the Dog Writers Association of America Maxwell Award for Fiction. Like her protagonist, Boneham shows her dogs in various canine sports and has founded dog rescue groups. Her nonfiction books have also won awards from teh Dog Writers Association of America and Cat Writers Association. To learn more, visit her online at or

Fifty-something and long divorced, animal photographer Janet MacPhail loves her pets, her home, her family and friends, and—just to complicate her life—Tom Saunders. Janet is a blend of the many terrific women I’ve met through the dog, cat, and horse worlds—exhibitors, trainers, breeders, rescuers, therapy-dog volunteers, advocates, pet owners. She is devoted to her animals, gutsy (have you ever faced a flock of stampeding sheep?), compassionate, funny, and determined to be her own woman while loving and being loved. In Shepherd’s Crook (October 8, 2015), she finds herself once again pulled into a murder investigation even as she makes other life-altering decisions. Let’s face it—the second half-century of life isn’t for wimps!

Return to this blog tomorrow to hear about the serie-ous (and sassy) protagonists!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Celebrating Women's History Month #2: The Ladies of 2015 Series Starters

Here at Midnight Ink Headquarters, we find that the best way to celebrate Women's History Month is to talk to our authors whose books feature strong female protagonists. Every day this week, return to this blog to find out more about the ladies portrayed in our various series and stand-alone releases this year!

Check out the first in this series here.

Gigi Pandian

Gigi Pandian is the USA Today bestselling author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series for Henery Press. A cancer diagnosis in her 30s taught her two important life lessons: healing foods can taste amazing, and life's too short to waste a single moment. Therefore she writes the Accidental Alchemist mysteries while drinking delectable green smoothies and eating decadent home-cooked meals.
Zoe Faust is a centuries-old alchemist. Her character came to me because I loved the themes of immortality explored in The Highlander TV show, but the experiences and challenges would be different for a woman. Living forever isn’t necessarily a blessing, and Zoe has lost many loved ones over the years. When The Accidental Alchemist (January 8, 2015) begins, Zoe has been running from human connections for years – until she’s sought out by a fellow misfit who needs her help. In helping the gargoyle who was accidentally brought to life through alchemy, she embraces her strengths and finds joy in life once again. 

Loretta Ross

Loretta Ross is a writer and historian who lives and works in rural Missouri. She is an alumna of Cottey College and holds a BA in archaeology from the University of Missouri—Columbia. She has loved mysteries since she first learned to read. Visit her online at

In real life, some of the strongest women I know are also some of the kindest. It was this realization that helped to define my female main character, Wren Morgan. Her strength comes from kindness and a desire to care for those she cares about.

In Death Bogart, she sees a good man broken down by war and tragedy. Letting him into her heart would be scary even if they weren't being stalked by homicidal jewel thieves. But Wren is strong and she will do whatever it takes to see them both through in Death and the Redheaded Woman (February 8, 2015).

Elizabeth Perona

Elizabeth Perona is the father/daughter writing team of Tony Perona and Elizabeth Dombrosky. Visit Tony online at

Our main character in Murder on the Bucket List (July 8, 2015) is Francine, based on Tony’s mother (Liz’s grandmother) Frances. Frances grew up in a very poor family in Terre Haute, Indiana during the Depression. She was the oldest child. When she was ten or eleven, she was put to work picking berries for a landowner during the summers, day after day in the hot sun. Her income was necessary to help her family survive. When she reached her teens, her parents wanted Frances to quit high school and work full time, but knowing she needed an education to get a better job, she worked long hours after school as a soda jerk until she graduated. Her determination is honored in our stories. 

Deirdre Verne

Deirdre Verne is a mystery writer, college professor, and an active college blogger. A writer for the millennial crowd, Verne regularly delivers straight-forward and often hilarious advice on her college blog. Prior to teaching, Verne worked in new product development for Time Inc., representing the magazine titles Fortune, Money, and Parenting. Visit her online at

I’ve been a rule follower my whole life and according to my mother, I was the easiest child to raise. I never strayed from the path, I did well in school, I got the right jobs and then I raised my own family.  If this was the start of a novel, you’d probably put the book down and so would I. That’s why I created CeCe Prentice, an unconventional, off-beat, Dumpster-diving freegan who thrives on challenging the rules. Although she does and says as she pleases, her higher power is the environment. Sure, she steps on toes along the way, sometimes even her own, but the socially conscious CeCe genuinely cares about the world and those closest to her. And when people mess with that world? Well, you can find out how far CeCe strays from the path in Drawing Conclusions (February 8, 2015).

Amanda Flower

Amanda Flower is an academic librarian and the Agatha Award-nominated author of Maid of Murder, the Appleseed Creek Mysteries and the India Hayes Mysteries. She also writes the Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries under the name Isabella Alan. Visit her online at

Kelsey Cambridge is a single mom and the director of Barton Farm, a living history museum thirty minutes south of Cleveland, Ohio. Like all single moms, she is strong and does everything for her son. Her dream is to preserve history for all children, and she took the job as Barton Farm’s director because of her love of Ohio and American history. She is determined to help the struggling Farm succeed so that future generations can learn from the past. She brings new ideas, like a Civil War re-enactment, to the Farm, but not everyone embraces those ideas, as in The Final Reveille (May 8, 2015).

Tracy Kiely

Tracy Kiely
is the author of the Elizabeth Parker Mysteries for Minotaur Books. Murder
 with a Twist is her Midnight Ink debut.

My character Nicole “Nic” Martini is a modern-day twist on Dashiell Hammett’s iconic detective, Nick Charles. Like her predecessor, Nic is a former NYC detective who has married into wealth. Husband Nigel shares Nic’s wit, quickness, and love of a “dirty Martini.” In Murder with a Twist (May 8, 2015), the couple is in NYC for Nigel’s cousin Audrey’s birthday party. Unfortunately, Audrey’s shady husband is missing. Nic reluctantly agrees to find him and quickly realizes that there are darker forces at play. Nic’s tenacity and innate sense of justice lead her to seek the truth, even if that truth ruins Nigel’s family.

Return to this blog tomorrow to hear about the protagonists from some of our longest-running series from: Sue Ann Jaffarian, Jess Lourey, Kathleen Ernst, and Sheila Webster Boneham.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Celebrating Women's History Month #1: The Cozy Protagonists

Here at Midnight Ink Headquarters, we find that the best way to celebrate Women's History Month is to talk to our authors whose books feature strong female protagonists. Every day this week, return to this blog to find out more about the ladies portrayed in our various series and stand-alone releases this year!

Linda O. Johnston

Linda O. Johnston writes the Superstition and Barkery & Biscuits mysteries for Midnight Ink. She has published over thirty-five romance and mystery novels, including the Pet Rescue Mystery series and the Pet-Sitter Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime. She lives in California. Visit her online at

Rory Chasen, protagonist of the Superstition Mysteries, is a superstition agnostic... like me.  After losing her beloved fiancĂ© when he walked under a ladder, she traveled to the town of superstitions, Destiny, California, to determine if they're real.  She's still not sure, but her strength lies in her ongoing determination to find out.  Her lucky dog Pluckie beside her, she runs the Lucky Dog Boutique.

In Knock on Wood (October 8, 2015), her closest friend is accused of murder.  Rory, who faced similar circumstances in Lost Under a Ladder, will do all she can to confront the applicable superstitions and clear her friend.

Carrie Kennersly, protagonist of the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries, loves animals, like me. As a veterinary technician, she has devoted her life to them.  But she is also an entrepreneur at heart and jumps at the opportunity to buy a bakery and convert half into a barkery for healthful dog treats she has developed.  

In Bite the Biscuit (May 8, 2015), Carrie opens her new stores.  Soon thereafter she is accused of murdering a nasty member of the town's most elite family, owner of a local pet store, who criticizes Carrie's new venture.  Carrie must clear herself . . . and keep on cooking.

Tracy Weber

Tracy Weber is the author of the Downward Dog mysteries, a certified yoga therapist, and the founder of Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, where she lives with her husband and a horse-sized German Shepherd. Weber is a member of Sisters in Crime, The Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and the Dog Writers Association of America. Visit her online at

Kate Davidson is a yoga teacher who suffers from unfortunate—and often embarrassing—anger management issues. She’s smart, fiercely loyal, and independent to a fault. Her strengths, when unchecked, become her weaknesses.  She’s so independent that she doesn’t accept help; she’s so loyal that she helps others when it would be smarter not to; she firmly believes in the ethics she teaches, even when she fails to live up to them. Kate interests me because she makes mistakes, falls flat on her butt, and gets back up again.  Isn’t that the true definition of courage?

Kate faces many challenges in A Killer Retreat (January 8, 2015), including being the primary suspect in a murder investigation. But her biggest challenge is always getting out of her own way. Kate’s a work in progress, but she’s growing!

Steve Hockensmith with Lisa Falco

Steve Hockensmith is the author of the Tarot Mysteries (Midnight Ink), the Edgar-nominated Nick and Tesla mysteries (Quirk), and the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies novels Dawn of the Dreadfuls (Quirk) and Dreadfully Ever After (Quirk). His book Holmes on the Range (Minotaur Books) was a finalist for the Edgar, Shamus and Anthony Awards for Best First Novel. Visit him online at

Lisa Falco received her first tarot deck at the age of eight years old. She holds degrees from both Northwestern University and Cal State University Northridge. She is also the author of A Mother's Promise for Illumination Arts.

It was Lisa’s idea to write about a female tarot reader who helps her clients through the cards. I [Steve] added Alanis’ dark back story—that she was raised by a sociopathic con woman—and made her the series’ skeptical, wisecracking narrator. So Alanis is a hybrid: spiritual yet worldly, well meaning yet cynical. That blend makes her a complicated character—and one who refuses to conform to the limits (be unthreatening, be “nice”) that are sometimes imposed on female protagonists. In Fool Me Once (August 8, 2015), Alanis is trying to balance those opposing sides of herself, and it’s not only difficult . . . it’s deadly!

Maddy Hunter

Maddy Hunter draws inspiration from disastrous vacations that have spanned three continents to fuel her Passport to Peril Mystery series. The first six titles are available from Pocket Books; books seven and eight are available through Midnight Ink Books. The first in the series, Alpine for You, was an Agatha Award finalist and a Daphne du Maurier Award finalist. Hula Done It?, Pasta Imperfect and Top O’ the Mournin’ were named to the Independent Mystery Bookseller’s Association bestseller list. For more information, visit

Emily Andrew Miceli leaped from my imagination as a fish out of water who trades in her stage-acting career for that of a tour escort for Iowa seniors. I thought her misadventures abroad with her quirky companions might be amusing. What I didn’t know was that despite a barrage of life-altering setbacks, Emily really likes herself, is incredibly resourceful, and has a kind heart. These qualities are what make her strong. The challenge she faces in From Bad to Wurst (December 8, 2015) is to nab a killer while being distracted by nonstop emergency room visits, psychic disharmony, and musical disasters. Uff-da!  

Return to this blog tomorrow to hear from our new series authors: Gigi Pandian, Loretta Ross, Elizabeth Perona, Deirdre Verne, Amanda Flower, and Tracy Kiely!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Q&A with Shannon Baker

This week, we sat down with Shannon Baker, author of the Nora Abbott Mysteries. Her latest, Tattered Legacy, was released earlier this month!

Midnight Ink: How long have you been writing?
Shannon Baker: My daughter turned 30 last week, so it’s been about that long. I’m not one of those artists who came out of the womb with a story to tell. When I was 11, I wrote a poem and it won some awards and netted me attention. When my older sister read the poem, she declared I’d stolen it from her and informed me SHE was the writer in the family, not me. I believed her, even after a college prof wrote on an essay, “You have a real facility for the language. Consider being an English major?” When I became a stay-at-home mother, I needed some outlet, so I started writing.

MI: What influence have other authors had on your writing?
SB: Way back when dirt was new, I read “And Ladies of the Club” by Helen Hooven Santmyer. I loved that book—a sweeping saga. I’d read that she wrote it when she was in her 80s and I figured if I wanted to ever get good enough to write such a big book, I’d better get started. I was big into Franklin Day Planner and The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, so I wrote out a long-term plan, medium, and short-term, complete with daily tasks. I’ve long since lost the plan, but it got me moving. A body in writing stays in writing.

MI: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
SB: If I weren’t a writer AND I had a ton o’ money, I’d go SCUBA diving a lot. A whole lot. I’d also hike mountains and kayak rivers. Skiing, riding a bike in Europe, hiking the Camino de Santiago, and climbing to Machu Picchu seem like great ways to fill my days. Oh, and the Great Wall and volcanoes in Costa Rica….

MI: If you have a job outside of writing, what is it?
SB: I have an MBA and really loved being the tactician in start-ups. Not the strategist—I have no vision. But I rock at follow-through. (Or, I used to. I’m much less driven now.) I’m pretty happy being a stay-at-home writer, although I miss the regular paycheck.

MI: What are your favorite things to do when you’re not writing or working?
SB: See the answer above, but without the money side. I ride my bike and hike, backpack, float on lakes, and a couple of times of year, if I’m lucky, I get to go diving. When I’m deep into writing avoidance, I like to bake and cook. And always, there’s a book to read.

MI: Who is your favorite mystery sleuth and why?
SB: I came late to the mystery game. I’m playing catch-up so I don’t have the repertoire of classics. But lately, I’m loving Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire. And I’m eating up Jessica Lourey’s Mira James.  With Walt, I love his humor and connection with the natural world, plus, I’m a sucker for Wyoming. With Mira, she makes me laugh out loud.

MI: Do you have a favorite murder case from a book (either yours or another author’s)?
SB: This question makes me feel so stupid! My brain doesn’t hang on to details like this. I’m much more of a “SQUIRREL!” type. So I can tell you what’s going on right now. My brilliant and slightly deranged husband is days away from retiring from 40 years as a BNSF conductor. I am writing a book set in rural Nebraska with a murder on a freight train and I asked him for ideas. His plan, which took him an alarmingly short time to come up with, involves suspending a railroad tie from a bridge and decapitating an engineer.

MI: What was your inspiration for this series?
SB: When we moved to Flagstaff in 2006, there was a huge controversy raging over pumping treated wastewater to the ski resort just outside of town. While creating a constant snow supply would be good business for the town, the ski resort sits on a peak sacred to 12 separate tribes. My first thought was, “Someone’s going to die over this.” So I wrote Tainted Mountain. When Midnight Ink offered to publish it, they asked if it was a series, and I said, “Yes, yes of course.” Then I had to set about making it one.

MI: How does this book/series compare to your past works?
SB: I’d published a thriller in 2010 with a Nano-press. I didn’t really know I’d written a mystery with Tainted Mountain, I thought it was a thriller. So after I sold it, I started reading lots of mysteries and some series. Now I consider myself a mystery writer and have every intention of sticking around here!

MI: What inspired Nora Abbott’s character?
SB: I wanted to write about the man-made snow controversy in Flagstaff and I thought about who would care the most. Obviously, the ski resort owner. Then I wondered how to make her more conflicted, so I made her an environmentalist. I was working for The Grand Canyon Trust at the time. It’s an environmental non-profit with the goal of protecting and restoring the Colorado Plateau. (The area from south of Flagstaff to southern Utah, including the Grand Canyon.) The people at the Trust are pretty passionate about their work, so I had some great examples to work from.

MI: How did the ancient Hopi culture make it into your books?
SB: When I started to research the sacred aspects of the San Francisco Peaks—where they wanted to pump treated wastewater—I came across the Hopi tribe. They are a fascinating culture. One of the smallest, oldest, and poorest tribes in the country, they believe they are responsible for the balance of the whole world. They are also very secretive. So, of course, I chose to write about them. I could write a twenty book series and still not cover all the mysteries of the Hopi tribe.

MI: Saving and conserving the environment is a huge part of your Nora Abbott series. Is this a significant part of your life as well?
SB: I worked for The Grand Canyon Trust, but my job was finance director of the cattle operation on the North Rim. It’s ironic that an organization that fights overgrazing all over the west runs cattle, but there is a reason. By buying up nearly one million acres of land and leasing rights, the Trust could reduce the number of cattle to the bare minimum required by the government, instead of letting a commercial cattle operation run the maximum allowable and pillaging the delicate landscapes.

But I’d spent 20 years in the cattle country of Nebraska so my perspective was a little different from the enviros at the Trust. However, I’d been living in Boulder, CO before moving to Flagstaff, and environmental awareness drifts off the Flatirons like pine pollen. So, yeah, I’m kind of conflicted.

Am I an environmental activist? No. But I am aware and I try to leave as little trace as possible, especially in the wild places.

MI: Do you have a pet? Tell us about him/her.
SB: PUPPY! We lost our last Boxer in 2012 and since our lives were in such flux at the time, we decided to hold off getting another pet until we were more settled. We’ve been a very sad household without a dog. But since we’re heading down to Tucson and staying home full-time in less than 90 days, we’re getting a Weimeraner puppy. The mother’s been ultra-sounded and she’s due March 26th, which means we’ll have our little bundle of pee, poop, needle-teeth and joy in May!

A Weimeraner puppy, like the one that will soon join the Baker family.

MI: What food could you live off of for the rest of your life?
SB: Pizza. Or tacos.

MI: Do you have a favorite recipe?
SB: My mother was the world’s worst cook. Seriously awful. When I got married, I moved to the ruralist of rural Nebraska and my mother-in-law taught me how to cook. But I never used recipes (except for baking), just threw in this and that. About 5 years ago, a friend gave me a subscription to a cooking magazine and I started to make the recipes, getting the right ingredients and measuring them.  I’m totally amazed at what a better cook I am now!

MI: What’s your favorite part about being an Inker?
SB: I treasure the friendships I’ve made at Midnight Ink and the feeling of camaraderie. It’s so wonderful to walk into a conference and see other Inkers and feel like part of the group. Everyone has been so helpful, generous, and FUN! The other aspect of being an Inker is being part of a respected press. MI has street cred in the mystery world. When I approach a bookstore or other venue to set up an event, I’m often met with a cautious reaction. Then I tell them I’m published by Midnight Ink and the smiles open up.

 Tattered Legacy is available online and in bookstores now!