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Bitter/Mercy Interview

The Lourey-Baker Doublebooked blog tour is stopping here! Read on as I interview and am interviewed by Shannon Baker, author of the recently-released BITTER RAIN. If you like strong female characters (and who doesn't?!?), you're gonna love Shannon's writing.

Shannon: Jess, we’ve been bopping around the internets on our Double-Booked Tour talking about all kinds of

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things, but we haven’t really talked about our new books. So, tell me the quick lowdown about MERCY'S CHASE.

Jess: Thanks for asking, lady! In this sequel to SALEM'S CIPHER, out September 8, FBI cryptanalyst Salem Wiley is sent to London, where she discovers that Stonehenge is actually an ancient code that holds the secret to the greatest feminine mystery of all time. Woot! Tell me something about BITTER RAIN, the latest in your engrossing Kate Fox mysteries.

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Shannon: In BITTER RAIN, Kate investigates the disappearance of her deputy’s younger sister, bringing all kinds of feelings of loss and worry over Kate’s own missing niece. Of course, there’s Kate’s meddling family to contend with and all the quirky characters that populate her Sandhill’s home.

I love the Nebraska Sandhills and since it’s a unique place, I like to write about aspects of it most people wouldn’t know. I can’t remember what got me thinking about the town of White Clay (Dry Creek in Bitter Rain) but I was horrified to find out this town with the population of 12 people sells 4 million cans of beer annually. It is located two miles from the dry reservation of Pine Ridge and is purveyor of so much tragedy.

The Kate Fox books contain a fair amount of humor, so writing about someplace so bleak was challenging since I didn’t want the book to be something readers wouldn’t expect. But life is always like that, isn’t it? We laugh, we cry, we feel loss and celebrate victory, sometimes simultaneously. Wow, that’s pretty deep for me. I think I need a nap.

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Jess, you did some interesting research involving travel for MERCY'S CHASE. Tell us about that.

Jess: Between you, me, and the world wide web, I planned my honeymoon around researching the book. My husband, Tony, and I booked a small-group tour inside Stonehenge, rodeup in the London Eye, toured Parliament, touched down in Scotland, and explored Wicklow County and St. Brigid’s Cathedral in Ireland. It all went into the book!

Here I am inside of Stonehenge:

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A real challenge in writing MERCY'S CHASE was continuing to advance Salem’s character. In the first book, she went from agoraphobic computer genius to FBI cryptanalyst. Getting her to cross the pond in MERCY'S CHASE took some finessing, but I think it set her on a path that will allow for many books to come. Can you tell me about Kate’s character arc?

Shannon: The Kate Fox series is the first time I ever planned for several books. I set Kate up with lots of brothers and sisters thinking I could have them all involved in some adventure in different books. But Kate is growing and changing with each book and I’m enjoying her journey.

Unlike some of my earlier protagonists, Kate is headstrong and pretty solid in who she is. But she faces challenges and needs to find her way. In Stripped Bare, she loses everything she’d built her life and future around and needs to find other avenues of opportunity. In Dark Signal she’s figured out how to get some traction under her wheels. And in Bitter Rain she’s making a place for herself and thinking about where she wants to go. The next book will involve Kate’s search for her niece and will take Kate out of her familiar setting to navigate the bright lights of the city.

Jess, what’s next on the horizon for you? Indie pubbing? New books?

Jess: I have a book of my heart out on submission. It crunches two timelines: that of the abduction of Jacob Wetterling, which happened in 1989 just up the road from where I grew up, and two weeks of my life when I was 12, which would have been 1982. Please send positive publishing thoughts for that one! Then, the plan is to write APRIL FOOLS, the last in the Mira James Mysteries, before...I don’t know what. What should I write next??? What are you writing next?

Shannon: It’s a whole new publishing world out there full of opportunity and sinkholes. I’m thrilled and terrified at the same time. I’ve thrown chips into the indie pub basket with writing steamy romance and now with BITTER RAIN.

I wrote a book I’m proud of but was a totally different direction for me, and sadly, it didn’t tickle the enthusiasm of the New York houses. I’ve got another suspense plotted and would like to get after that, but there’s a Kate book calling, and this romance gig. So, as I write this, I’m really a fart in a skillet, trying to figure out my direction.

Please, in the comments section below, let Jess and Shannon know what you’d like to see from them next, and ground these two skillet farts. All comments will automatically enter you to win a signed copy of BITTER RAIN or MERCY'S CHASE!

Sign up for Shannon's or Jess' newsletter for another chance to win, and to automatically receive a Kate short story from Shannon and MAY DAY from Jess. You can also find out more about Shannon on her website. Finally, read the blog post right before this one to find out our next (and previous) tour stops! There's laughter, cocktails, and writing insight at each stop along with more chances to win.

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