What’s in the hopper? Another Next Big Thing.

My work-in-progress, of course! My Next Big Thing is a mystery, a police procedural, a thriller, a crime novel. Call it what you will. Plan X, as in X marks the spot? Maybe… read on.

1. What is the title of your work-in-progress?

Plan X. The title came directly from the writing. For once I’ve never been tempted to change it, although if you give me some feedback that it stinks, I’m listening! The term features in the story  on a challenge coin, the kind of memento given to military to commemorate a unit or mission. The meaning of it is a mystery in itself, one the main character has to decipher.

2. Where did the idea come from for the WIP?

If I knew where my ideas came from I’d be a lot better off! However… this book begins with a large explosion in Bozeman, Montana. Just before I moved there, a gas explosion rocked downtown Bozeman, wiping out almost an entire block and killing one person. My explosion is more nefarious, of course, a bomb set by a bad actor. Two professors at Montana State are killed while engaged in some intimate activity late at night in a science lab. The real explosion set my imagination going. What better way to start off a story than with a big ol’ bang?

3. What genre does your book come under? 

Plan X is a mystery. It’s a police procedural. The main character is a young female police officer in Bozeman. She is tasked with finding the identity and next-of-kin for one of the victims of the bombing, a professor of Shakespeare in the English Department.What should be a simple task turns into something else completely, and yes, there’s the rub.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmmm. Good question. I could see somebody like Jennifer Lawrence or Jessica Chastain, tough, independent, serious, playing Cody Byrne. Cody is just back from a reserve tour in Iraq as a bomb scene investigator and is struggling with emotional issues. She has panic attacks and, embarrassingly, faints dead away sometimes. She has a fierce sense of duty. So the actress needs to be strong with a vulnerable side. Cody is a complex character, an independent woman who doesn’t want to be quite so alone in the world.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

Plan X is about a young cop whose sanity is shaken by her Iraq tour and her brother’s death as she searches for the identity of a murdered Shakespeare professor, and the father she never knew.

(You can’t believe how long it took me to write that!)

6. Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

At this point the book is still on my computer. But it will be represented by my agent and/or published by Thalia Press.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Oh, ages. I can’t really remember when I started the first draft. I spend a lot of time filling a notebook full of ideas, scraps of research, working on characters especially. I remember Meredith Blevins helping me by telling me to interview my character. That was a great idea! During the formative weeks (months…) I also do a computer diary every morning, working on ideas, getting the juices flowing. Sue Grafton gave me that tip!

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I was inspired, in a way, by Michael Gruber’s Book of Air and Shadows, a literary thriller about a lost Shakespeare play. In the end I found Air and Shadows unappealing, but the concept remained intriguing. What would happen if a new Shakespeare play was found? Would anyone believe it? Who would find it, and how? It is, of course, a lot more complicated than that in my story. The Shakespeare professor is… [cue scary music] not who he seems.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See #8. I also wanted to write a book set in Montana again, about a hometown girl who becomes a police officer. And still make that rather small stage engaging for readers, and expand the character’s reach around the world. (She goes to the UK on the search for the prof’s family.)

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There is a royal connection which leads to MI-5 and the British Library and Windsor Castle. As well as the search for the professor’s identity, Cody’s search for connection with her family drives the story. Her mother is a feminist who wrote a book about the Vagina Dentata myth. (Look it up!) Her real father is a mystery to her. It turns out he has some big secrets of his own. Her brother was in the Army and killed in Afghanistan. He has a past as well. A big part of the story is her journey to find out who her father is, how to honor her brother’s memory, how to stand up to her rather scary mother. And to figure out her ‘Man Problem.’ Yes, there’s some romance for our girl!
And that’s my Next Big Thing!


I’m not sure if this is how one of those blog hop things is actually supposed to work, and I hate the bit where once you’re done you’re supposed to drag five other people into it. But I got tagged, and I’m always up for questions, so…

 What is the working title of your book?

 BUCKTHORN. It’s a sequel to my Kindle bestseller BREAKING COVER. Truth be told, I’m not totally thrilled with that title. I was going to call it LAWLESS, but then that damn movie came out. The readership is invited to suggest alternatives. 

 Where did the idea come from for the WIP?

 My friend David Terrenoire, the author of BENEATH A PANAMANIAN MOON, read BREAKING COVER and observed that it was as much Deputy Tim Buckthorn’s story as it was Tony Wolf’s. Buckthorn starts off as Wolf’s antagonist, and ends up being allied with him against the enemies who’ve invaded his town. See the story of how Buckthorn developed here.

 What genre does your book come under? 

Same as before: Redneck Noir. (Actually, it’s more hardboiled than noir, but “Redneck Hardboiled” just doesn’t trip off the tongue the same way).

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh, lord. This is always a tough question, but even more so with these books because of the nature of the characters. Tony Wolf is a guy who spent years undercover, and part of the reason he was so good at it is because he looks so unremarkable. Tim Buckthorn is a quiet, serious guy who the main female character doesn’t realize is attractive until she really gets to know him. Good luck finding actors in Hollywood that fit THAT.

All that said, High Jackman was looking at BREAKING COVER at one point, but passed on it due to some of the darker aspects of the subject matter. I think he would have been a good Wolf. Timothy Olyphant might work as Buckthorn, but I may just be thinking that because he’s so great in Justified. 

The female characters are a little easier. I’d love to see Michelle Rodriguez play Gabriella Torrijos. Ellen Page would be great as FBI agent Leila Dushane, a character in the new one.

As for the other books…We need to get Viggo Mortenson to play Jack Keller before he gets too old. 

ImageI wouldn’t mind seeing Josh Brolin play Andy Cole. Christian Bale’s got the scary intensity to play Kyle Mercer. I haven’t really decided on an actor for GALLOWS POLE’s Colonel Mark Bishop, but Jonathan Banks from Breaking Bad would be great as Mr. Campbell. 

Image    What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

 Straight-arrow, by-the-book lawman Tim Buckthorn’s quest to save a kidnapped girl leads to a reunion with Tony Wolf and puts him on a collision course with a vicious Southern crime family out for vengeance. 

Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

It’s going to be self-published.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Probably the closest  would be Elmore Leonard’s Raylan Givens stories.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s got a kick ass female lead who I really love. Plus, stuff blows up.