Liz here, excited to welcome Jess Lourey and Shannon Baker back to the blog today on their Double Booked Tour! Take it away, ladies!
Another “Where Do You Get Your Ideas” Blog
We’re back! And so happy to be here. This is Jess and Shannon returning for the Third Annual Double Booked Blog Tour (woot!). Thanks so much to Liz Mugavero and the rest of the Wicked Cozies for having us. We love it here, especially because you let us bring the pretzels and beer.
Mercy’s Chase, the latest in Jess’ feminist thriller series that Lee Child calls “highly-recommended,” will be released in FOUR days! Shannon’s newest page-turner in the Kate Fox mysteries, Bitter Rain, is only a week old. Get it while it’s hot!
Make sure to read to the end of this blog post for a chance to win a signed copy of both.
Shannon: I loved Salem’s Cipher, the first in this series that was released in 2016. The premise of that book was, as they say, ripped from the headlines and involved a female presidential candidate. I guess it’s no secret where that inspiration came from. Tell us a little about Mercy’s Chase and how you came up with the idea for that plot.
Jess: Thanks, Shannon! I loved Salem’s Cipher, too, and so when my publisher asked for the sequel, I was thrilled to leap back into that world of intrigue, conspiracy, and puzzles. The premise of the series is that Salem Wiley, a world-famous cryptanalyst, discovers that women throughout history have been hiding secrets and treasures in coded scavenger hunts to protect them from The Order, a group of men hellbent on keeping women down.
To decide which secrets to write about in Mercy’s Chase, I looked at a globe and decided where I wanted to research. (Seriously. Sometimes this job is the best.) I decided I wanted to head to Ireland, England, and Scotland, and so I booked the trip (to coincide with my honeymoon; hello tax write-off) and began researching ancient feminine mysteries in those regions. I booked tours around them, and eventually built the book around the possibility that Stonehenge was built by women thousands of years ago to pass a message to us today, through time.
Below is a photo of my husband (he still had that fresh husband smell) inside of Stonehenge:
Shannon, please tell us where you got the idea for the latest Kate. I can’t wait to hang out with her again!
Shannon: (I love the pic, Jess. It’s during that bangs phase you went through!) While the Kate Fox books have a fair amount of humor (at least I hope so) the plot for Bitter Rain is, well, a little more bitter. Not far from where I lived in the Nebraska Sandhills, the Pine Ridge Reservation straddles the NE/South Dakota state line. The horrendous problems of poverty, alcoholism, and gang violence are largely ignored by the ranchers going about their daily business. I was compelled to send Kate up there. Against the wishes of the other sheriffs in her four-county co-op, Kate hires a Lakota Sioux man as their shared deputy. When his sister goes missing, Kate investigates.
I found it difficult to write about such bleak conditions and not drown the reader in sadness. I think Anne Hillerman does a deft job balancing the realities of rez life with humanity of her characters. To add a bit of levity, I added another element. About the time I started thinking of Kate’s third adventure, my husband was busy installing a 3000 gallon water storage tank and a big-ass generator in our backyard. Although he wasn’t constructing tin hats and digging a fall-out shelter, he was making preparations for an EMP. He’d just read Ted Koppel’s book, Lights Out. I have only myself to blame since I bought it for him.
Anyway, all of that gave me the idea to include end-of-world preppers in my story. The Sandhills would be the perfect place to build your safe compound. And then, of course, there’s always Kate’s family to meddle in her affairs. This time, they’re set on pairing her up and taking bets on their favorite eligible bachelor.
Jess, are you one of those writers who has so many ideas flying at you you’d never have time to write them all?
Jess: Ohmygoshyes! I once had a gentleman come up to me at a signing, not to buy a book but to tell me he had a great concept for one. He’d tell me this jewel of an idea, he said, then I’d write the book, and we’d split the profits. Once I stopped laughing, I assured him I had enough of my own ideas to last me three lifetimes. I keep them in a gorgeous, gilded accordion folder because I think they deserve to be honored, even if (especially if) I never get time to write them.
Also, when a new great idea comes to me, I put out a big glass marble in my flower garden as a thank you to the story fairies. I’m not kidding!
Shannon: I’m trying not to be bitter and jealous. I’m not an idea factory. They generally come at me one at a time and then, only when I specifically ask my recalcitrant brain. I tend to work on one project at a time, too, and only when that’s done, can my brain release itself for another idea.
My latest big idea came when I read your book, Rewrite Your Life. In that, you challenged us to write about our biggest fear. For me, that is the death of one of my children. Because I wanted to write something completely different from Kate, I wrote a disturbing and dark suspense. So far, it hasn’t found a home. But the effort was worth stretching my writing wings.
I’m actually casting about for a really great idea. I cut out an article in the paper about roaming gangs of Disney fans staking turf in Disneyland and waging wars on competing gangs. Seems perfect for a cozy, but I haven’t quite embraced it, yet. I’m biding my time by writing some quick (and dirty) romances under a pen name. But if any of you have a great idea to spare, pass it my way!
Jess: Shannon, I’m honored you read that book, and I loved your dark suspense. Really, it’s a crime it hasn’t found its home YET. I know it will. It’s powerful with ache and insight. As far as great ideas, I’ll read anything you write.
My latest project, The Devil in the Dirt Basement, is out on submission (six rejections and counting). Like you, I chose to write about my deepest fear, which is having my stories taken away from me. The main character is named Cassandra, after the tragic Greek heroine who always told the truth and was never believed. After that, it’s on to something lighter for me–the final book in the funny Mira James Mysteries! Woot!
Dear reader, what would you like to see Shannon and Jess write next? Tell us in the comments below.
We are each giving away three signed books on the Lourey/Baker Double-Booked Tour. To enter to win, sign up for our newsletter!
- Jess Lourey newsletter sign-up (when you sign up, you’ll automatically receive a free copy of May Day, the first in Jess’ comic caper mysteries): BookHip.com/KJNSXH
- Shannon Baker newsletter sign-up (when you sign up you’ll receive a free Kate short story): https://mailchi.mp/d5ccfe1840ea/shannonsbooknews
For every comment you make along our tour stop, you’ll get another entry in the contest. Don’t be shy; we love talking to you.
DOUBLE-BOOKED BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE
August 23: “Two Middle-aged Introverts Write a Sex Scene” on Criminal Minds
August 26: “Write What You Fear” on Writer Unboxed
August 27: “The Five Stages of Author Grief” on BOLO Books
August 29: “Tools and Tricks that Changed the Game” on Femmes Fatales
August 31: “Write a Great Scene” on Fiction University
September 2: “Author Interview” on Jess Lourey
September 4: “The Unexpected Places Authors Get Their Ideas” on Wicked Cozy Authors
September 8: “A Day in the Life of Our Characters” on Dru’s Book Musings
September 13: “Most Embarrassing Author Moment” on Jungle Red Writers
September 26: “Create an Author Persona” on The Creative Penn
TBA: “More than the Sum of Our Parts” on Career Authors
ABOUT SHANNON AND JESS
Shannon Baker is author of the Kate Fox mystery series set in rural Nebraska cattle country, and the Nora Abbott mystery series, fast-paced mix of Hopi Indian mysticism, environmental issues, and murder. Now a resident of Tucson, Baker spent 20 years in the Nebraska Sandhills, where cattle outnumber people by more than 50:1. She is proud to have been chosen Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2014 and 2017 Writer of the Year.
A lover of the outdoors, she can be found backpacking in the Rockies, traipsing to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, skiing mountains and plains, kayaking lakes, hiking, cycling, and scuba diving whenever she gets the chance. Arizona sunsets notwithstanding, Baker is, and always will be, a Nebraska Husker. Go Big Red. Visit Shannon at www.Shannon-Baker.com.
Jess Lourey (rhymes with “dowry”) is an Anthony, Lefty, and Agatha-nominated author best known for her critically-acclaimed Mira James Mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing “a splendid mix of humor and suspense.” She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft’s Excellence in Teaching fellowship, a regular Psychology Today blogger, and a sought-after workshop leader and keynote speaker who delivered the 2016 “Rewrite Your Life” TEDx Talk. Mercy’s Chase, the second in the feminist thriller series Lee Child calls “highly recommended,” releases September 8. You can find out more at www.jessicalourey.com.