Guest: Keenan Powell

Edith here, happy to welcome Keenan Powell to the blog today! Her new book, Deadly Solution, is just out and she’s giving away an e-copy to one commenter.

Deadly Solution coverLess than a year after drinking sidelined her career as a public defender in Anchorage, Alaska, Maeve Malloy is asked to defend an Aleut Indian accused of beating another homeless man to death. With no witnesses to the crime and a client who claims to have no knowledge of the night of the murder due to a blackout, the case is stacked against them. When Maeve and investigator Tom Sinclair discover there may be a link to an unusually high number of deaths among the homeless community, the search is on for a killer hunting among the most vulnerable members of society. 


Becoming Maeve

In high school, writing seemed like a romantic endeavor. Pounding the keyboard when the muse strikes, laughing and swearing with my friends as we drank coffee on sidewalk cafes, wearing berets, earning oodles of money. But I didn’t have a story to tell of my own.

So, I ended up in law school. Later I realized, I was particularly well-suited for litigation. It’s a storytelling profession where you get paid to fight with other people. What’s there not to like?

Fast forward twenty plus years: On this particular morning, I was sitting in a continuing legal education seminar when the two presenters, a workers’ compensation employee attorney and an insurance defense attorney, were talking about a case they’d had years before. They had to run to court for an order prohibiting the medical examiner from disposing of the remains of a man who had died working on the North Slope so that their experts could examine the body. Little known law: the medical examiner in Alaska can declare the cause of death without doing an autopsy and dispose of the remains within seventy-two hours. If no one claims the body, it’s cremated.

A light flashed in my head. I slapped the table in front of me and yelled, “That’s how he did it!” startling the lady who was knitting beside me. A few years earlier, a dozen homeless people had died during the summer within weeks of each other. The thing is, homeless people in Anchorage, Alaska, generally die from exposure during the winter. Having made it through the winter, it’s unlikely they’d start dropping in the summer. The city was in an uproar, convinced that there was a serial killer afoot. However, the police insisted that the medical examinations revealed that there had been no foul play. Then, the murders stopped as mysteriously as they started.

Sitting in that seminar next to the knitter, I’d realized: If the medical examiner determines the cause of death without doing an autopsy, and then destroys the remains, who’s to say he’s right?

I had a story.

Readers: How have twists and turns shaped your life? Share a “flash of light” moment in your life for the chance to win a e-copy of Deadly Solution. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends January 28, 2018.

IMG_5637Keenan Powell was born in Roswell, New Mexico, several years after certain out-of-towners visited. Her first artistic endeavor was drawing, which led to illustrating the original Dungeons and Dragons when still in high school. A past winner of the William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic grant, her publications include Criminal Law 101 in the June 2015 issue of The Writer magazine and several short stories. She writes the legal column, Ipso Facto, for the Guppies’ newsletter, First Draft, and blogs with the Mysteristas. She lives, and practices law, in Anchorage, Alaska. When not writing or lawyering, she can be found riding her bike, hanging out with her Irish Wolfhound, studying the concert harp, or dinking around with oil paints.

Visit Keenan at:



39 Thoughts

  1. Hi Keenan, really, the first Dungeons and Dragons. WOW, that is so cool.

    I love those ah-ha moments. There is a serendipity to writing. Sometimes the world aligns with your story. Looking forward to reading Deadly Solution. It’s on my Kindle and queued up.

    1. Gary Gygax had a dream. I had no idea when I drew those pictures how huge it would be. I don’t think anyone did. Hope you enjoy the book!

  2. I don’t think this has shaped my life, but a few days ago I was working on a short story and thinking that the first six pages were fine but nothing special. Then I was listening to a speech during the SAG awards, and I had an aha moment. The story’s plot was about X but the story really was about Y. Once I realized that, I knew how to enhance the story.

    1. There’s a line in the book I took straight from a TV interview. I used to let it drone in the background when I wrote. When the interviewee made this statement, it hit just when I was writing a scene that felt a little flat and I thought, “that’s creepy” and put it in. It’s still in there. Mwa ha ha ha!

  3. So far we’ve had no deaths in the shelter for which I schedule volunteers.

      1. Officially a 9 bed shelter we currently have 12 adults and 1 child. This in a mostly rural area.

  4. Such a great story, Keenan. Welcome to the Wickeds! I have seen people in public on occasion who prompted an entire story to pop up in my brain. Best of luck with the new book. It’s waiting on my kindle.

  5. My whole life is made up of twists and turns – some good and some not so good, but they have gotten me to where I am not. There’s been everything from how I got to the town where I met my amazing husband, his changing jobs (Although in same retirement, we wondered if it was the right decision, but by doing do we now have health insurance for life.), to the move we took the leaf of faith this last year and did. I wouldn’t change a thing because if you did change something your path would change. No telling where I’d be now if I changed something.

    Love the storyline of “Deadly Solution”. Stories set in Alaska always interest me. Think it’s because I’ve always been told the story of how I was conceived there but Mom being RH- and the times it was, my folks were sent back down. I think about how it could have been my birth state. I’ve always wanted to go back.

    Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  6. Kay, so true about twists and turns. It’s a good think you were sent down. The old Anchorage hospital, where you probably would have been born, was downtown on 9th and L Street. It’s gone now and there is a tiny parking lot where it used to be. Before the Trans-Alaska Pipeline was built, things were pretty primitive. Your name’s in the drawing!

  7. Congratulations on your book Keenan! The opening and part of the plot for my first book came from a conversation I overheard in an airport. I love it when those things happen.

  8. Thanks, Sherry! I read Bernard MacLaverty goes out every afternoon to public places, eavesdrops and writes down what he hears. Then next morning, he starts his writing day working with those bits of conversations. And, his dialogue sings. I now carry around a little book with me everywhere I go to capture those moments.

  9. Hi Keenan,
    Your book sounds very interesting and a great read. Your history of yourself
    is very interesting too! Enjoyed learning
    about the book and you too. Have a
    great day.

  10. First of all, I have my copy of Deadly Solution, have started reading it, and it’s wonderful!! Congrats, Keenan. As to my light bulb moment, when I was in Louisiana in late October, I decided to treat myself to another plantation tour, and chose the Creole Mourning Tour at St. Joseph. I knew I’d enjoy seeing the home, but what I didn’t expect was the inspiration for what will eventually be book six in my series. Oh, how happy that made me!

  11. Keenan, I love that story. I can’t think of a particular twist right now, but I’m sure I’ve had them.

    I’m reading DEADLY SOLUTION now and really enjoying it. Congrats again!

    1. Glad you’re enjoy the story. I’m sure you’ve had, and are having, so many twists, you’re too busy coping with them to think about it. You are one busy person!

  12. I love those “aha” moments! Apparently, I need to pay closer attention when I attend CLEs! That’s one place I’ve yet to have such a moment. Lately, my flashes arrive during my office commute. Congratulations on your new release, Keenan! Can’t wait to read it!

    1. Thanks, Lida! I get those during the commute too, so I have a pad in the passenger seat to write it down at stop lights. I liked to think remembering them all the way to the office would be good for mental acuity but I found it was exhausting. And I wasn’t good at it. Ha!

  13. Really enjoyed this post, Keenan. For me, it took a birthday brunch with a 90-year-old friend for that flash of light: there was no reason I had to wait for retirement to write a novel. I could surely find one hour a day to write. Immediately the concept for my first series (Lakeside Porches) sprang fully formed. A year later I had a contract for the first in series, Stepping Up to Love. Incredibly, that imperfect first effort was a popular pick on the Summer Reading List for the fifth largest schools district in my home state. So “what are you waiting for?” is now part of my vocabulary and I’m loving it. Thanks for sparking all this cool discussion!

  14. Congrats on the new book! And an interesting story. So who was killing the homeless in real life, and how were they getting away with it?

    1. Thanks Mark. We never found out. The killings ended as mysteriously as they started. Then I read a couple of years later it was happening in LA. So I think he moved on.

  15. Keenan, welcome to the WIckeds! Best of luck with your book!

    I love those flashes of insight that seem to arrive when I am just letting my brain drift about a bit. It seems to happen a lot when I am knitting or writing long-hand. There is just something about moving my hands that moves my brain too.

    1. When I was studying for the bar exam, I listened to tapes while I did cross-stitch. For year afterwards, I could point to one work and recite the rule I was memorizing. Funny! Keeping hands busy puts our brains in another place.

  16. My personal twists and turns sound a lot like Kay’s. A whole lot of “if that hadn’t happened just when it did, then….” turned what could have been a lousy life into a wonderful one.

    Really looking forward to reading Deadly Solution!

  17. Loved your book. I couldn’t put it down. But then, I’ve got a bit of detective in my history. Head right back back to the desk and publish number two please.

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