Thank you so much for visiting us today here at the CCC blog! Can you tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write the story?
Hi! Thanks so much for having me! I’m excited to be here. My latest release, Cold Case Witness, came about because I wanted to set a series in Treasure Point, Georgia, the fictional town where my debut novel Treasure Point Secrets was set. Once I knew where I was setting it, I started brainstorming for the novel and the first thing I thought about was the characters. I knew Matt O’Dell needed a story—I’d known that since he showed up in the first book all sweet and lovable—but I also knew he needed a special kind of woman. Rather than figure out someone who fit him well in an obvious way, I set out to create a heroine who wouldn’t be at all what Matt expected, but who would be perfect for him anyway. That’s how Gemma came about, and the rest was developed from there.
What was the most difficult scene for you to write? Yes. Hahahaha. But seriously, for awhile I referred to Cold Case Witness as “The Book that Tried to Kill Me.” Not that I’m overdramatic (um, yes, yes, I am) but it was a tough book to write. This was the first book I wrote after a miscarriage that was difficult to work through, and the first few drafts of the first three chapters were atrocious because of my own internal struggles. When I finally got a contract for it and wrote the book itself, the writing was going better and it “sounded” like me again, but there was still some emotional depth missing in my characters, especially in my heroine. My husband helped me find it by telling me to go figure out what it was that I wasn’t ready to learn yet, and implied that when I did that, I’d know what Gemma needed. He was right, and everything came together from there. I’m really happy with how it turned out, and I’m also really happy with how I changed through the writing of it. This is a really special book to me because of how much it helped me to work through my own emotions (even though on the surface Gemma’s story is nothing like mine).
How did you choose the location for this novel, and why did you pick this particular place?
Treasure Point is a fictional town in Georgia near Savannah and Darien. I chose it initially as the setting for my debut novel because coastal Georgia has such a mysterious feel to it that makes it fun to set a suspense novel there. Around the time when I was thinking of writing suspense again (I’d written it when I started writing, then shifted to chick lit, and then came back to suspense.) I took a trip to St. Simons Island and on the drive down the trees and the entire landscape just really intrigued me and I thought something along the lines of “I could totally set a story here.” So I did! Four of them, total.
Tell us about your favorite secondary-character, and why you love them? In this novel, it’s definitely Clay Hitchcock. Much like the hero, Matt O’Dell, Clay is such a typical southern good ol’ boy. He’s dependable, cares deeply about anyone who matters to him, and he’s one of those friends who is always there for you when you need them. I couldn’t believe it when I reached the end of this Treasure Point series and realized I hadn’t given Clay a story. So I had to move him to another location, but I’m working on Clay’s story now. Hoping for a contract on that one—we will see! But I love Clay so I’m 99% sure I’m writing it either way. ;)
If you could have your readers pick out one critical scene, truth, or storyline from your novel, what would it be and why?
I love everything about this question. In this story Gemma is adopted and wrestled with who she is partially because of that and partially because she’s just one of those people pleasers. If readers could take away one thing from this story, it would be to remember who you are in Christ. And once you’ve done that, to remember that you can be braver than you think you are because of who He is and because He is with you.
Time to learn some more about you! Here at the CCC Blog we’ve had a running war for some time between coffee and tea drinkers J. To shake things up a bit, if you had to choose between a cup of hot cider or pumpkin spice latte, which would you pick to warm up to this Autumn? I’d go with a pumpkin spice latte. They taste like fall, and change, and new beginnings to me, and they’re also delicious.
I don’t have one huge holiday memory that sticks out, but what I love are the little things we do almost every Christmas. On Christmas Eve we watch Donovan’s Reef, a John Wayne movie that I promise does have a Christmas tie-in. On Christmas morning after we’ve done stockings and had breakfast we sit and open presents together one at at time and it’s just nice. It’s the little parts of it, I guess, that make it special.
We know you love to write (obviously!) and read, but what other hobbies do you find yourself gravitating toward?
I love being with my family and I love being outside. Hiking mountains is one of my very favorite things to do—I love the view from the top of a mountain and the perspective it gives me that we are so small and God is so big. I also love kayaking and also camping. Basically Alaska in the summer is my dream life.
Tell us about one odd item you can find in the bottom of your purse, book bag, or computer bag?
I have a pencil sharpener in my purse right now because I love taking colored pencils and a coloring book to church. It helps me listen and focus better.
What’s your favorite app on your smartphone and why? J
Whatever Thomas the Train app I have, because it lets me drink Starbucks in peace sometimes when my kids play it. Hahaha.
Now’s your chance to brag on your pet, if you have one! And include a picture! We love pets around here. Erica and Jaime are cat lovers, Anne too! And Gabe recently got a dog! So what furry, reptilian, or amphibious character lives in your house?
Awwwww, I love my dogs! Leif is a…no one is sure. We were told terrier but he’s 35 pounds and looks like either a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd. He follows me around and is completely adorable. My other dog is Dixie, a German Shepherd with a little bit of Chow. She’s a sweetheart who is convinced that I had kids so she’d have some small people to take care of.
What three books grace the top of your To-Be-Read pile? (because we know you HAVE to have more than one book on that stack)
I am a such a re-reader that my stack is enormous because at any given time I could be adding an old book back to it! I’m currently reading A Girl’s Best Friend—classic fabulous chick lit from Kristin Billerbeck. I’m waiting for Kara Isaac’s latest, Can’t Help Falling, to come in the mail and planning to buy Colleen Coble’s Twilight at Blueberry Barrens soon.
To close, will you share with us a favorite snippet from your upcoming novel to whet our appetite? And be sure to include the links where we can buy a copy!
I like the excerpt they chose for the front of the book teaser…
“Cold?” He raised his eyebrows.
“No, really, I’m okay.”
She accidentally looked in the direction of the crime scene, and shivered again. Matt jogged to his car, retrieved a jacket and returned. Gemma thanked him and slid her arms into it, reminding her skittering heart that this wasn’t high school, wearing his jacket didn’t mean anything, and he was just being chivalrous—Southern, really—to make sure she wasn’t cold.
Technically, she could only answer yes. Gemma had run out of reasons to delay this walk. So she nodded slowly, followed Matt as he started off down a path that she knew from experience would lead them from the clearing into a thick forest, dense with love oaks and Spanish moss whose shadows choked out the sunlight.
No, she wasn’t ready. She never would be.
But someone was out there, someone who knew what she’d seen, and they wanted her dead. Sometimes people had to do things they weren’t ready for.
So Gemma took a deep breath and stepped farther into the dark woods. Out of the light.
And back into the place that haunted her very worst dreams.
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