Edith here, so very delighted to host the prolific and talented (and my friend) Annette Dashofy on the blog. We are occasional retreat-mates, too (read below), and I absolutely love her Zoe Chambers Mysteries. The new book, Cry Wolf, is nearly out, and you won’t want to miss it.
Rural Pennsylvania’s Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams is down an officer and has been dealing with extra shifts as well as a pair of bickering neighbors, one of whom owns a machete and isn’t afraid to use it. Golden Oaks Assisted Living is outside Pete’s jurisdiction, but a murder in the facility his Alzheimer’s-afflicted father calls home makes the case personal.
Paramedic and Deputy Coroner Zoe Chambers has been itching for an opportunity to take the lead in a death investigation. She gets her chance when her boss is hospitalized and not only assigns her to the Golden Oaks homicide but puts her in charge of the county coroner’s office. As if she doesn’t have enough to handle, a long-lost, over-protective, older half-brother walks into her life threatening to drive a wedge between her and the man she loves. A second dead body leads them to realize the case may have dark ties to a distant past…and if Zoe doesn’t untangle the web of lies, Pete will be the one to pay the ultimate price.
Take it away, Annette!
A Visit to the Idea Store
Every writer who has put a story out into the word has been asked where their ideas come from. One author (I can’t remember whom—sorry) responded to this query with “From the Idea Store.”
In reality, ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. I’ve taken my own family issues and folklore and morphed them into stories. I’ve picked up tidbits from local news stories and used them as springboards into fictional crimes. I take life, ask “what if…?” and add a healthy dose of creative license as my recipe for a mystery.
One of the key plotlines in Cry Wolf came from a blip of a news story. A man in a rural area attacked his neighbor with a machete. I don’t recall the details. I don’t even know if I listened to the rest of the report. That one line was all I needed. Machete, I scoffed. The
guy’s a farmer. It’s a corn knife. The rest of the opening unfolded with an ease I can only wish was true of all scenes. Why would a farmer attack his neighbor with a corn knife? Because the neighbor is a clueless city dude who refuses to believe his fresh grass clippings could harm the farmer’s horses.
And by the way, that’s very true. Fresh grass clippings can be lethal to a horse’s delicate digestive system. (Read a Zoe Chambers Mystery, learn a lesson about equine biology.)
While a great many of my story ideas come from news stories, some drop into my lap when I least expect them. Last summer, I attended a retreat led by the fabulous Ramona Long. The wonderfully Wicked Edith Maxwell was a fellow attendee. One evening she and I sat around chatting, and from that relaxed conversation, a seed sprouted in my brain.
What if a previously unknown relative suddenly came into your life?
Zoe Chambers grew up without her father. The lack of a supportive male role model in her life shaped much about her. What if she learned she had an older brother? How would that one person, one element in her life, change who she was? After decades of taking care of herself, what would she do if someone offered to help and wanted to look out for her? And how would a protective older sibling affect her relationship with Pete Adams? Especially if that sibling didn’t share Zoe’s affinity with law enforcement?
Oh, the conflict. I love exploring issues like these.
Wickeds: do you have a source you keep going back to for story ideas? Do you ever fear you’ll run out? Readers: do you prefer a story with threads that ring true to reality for you, or do you prefer total escapist fantasy?
USA Today bestselling author Annette Dashofy has spent her entire life in rural Pennsylvania surrounded by cattle and horses. When she wasn’t roaming the family’s farm or playing in the barn, she could be found reading or writing. After high school, she spent five years as an EMT on the local ambulance service, dealing with everything from drunks passing out on the sidewalk to mangled bodies in car accidents. These days, she, her husband, and their spoiled cat, Kensi, live on property that was once part of her grandfather’s dairy. Her Zoe Chambers mysteries have received three nominations for the prestigious Agatha Award. Cry Wolf (September 2018) is the seventh in the series.
You know, it all depends on my mood. Sometimes I like a story with things that relate to my life. At other times, total escape is what I need!
I enjoy this series and I am looking forward to reading this new book.
So here I am going to be contrary: I grew up surrounded by sugar cane fields, and every household had a machete or three. They were used to strip the leaves from the cane, or to cut a path through them without slicing your face and arms to ribbons–sugar cane leaves are sharp. My father had several machetes. But stabbing someone would be difficult because it’s large and heavy….I am thinking about this way too much!
I love the Idea Store. Does it come with a genius bar, I wonder?
Ramona, my grandfather had a corn knife that was smaller than what you’re talking about, but some folks still called it a machete. And the genius bar is currently under construction.
Variety is the spice of life, therefore I like some variety in the books I read. Annette Dashofy’s books are a treat to read. I have read a few and found them to be entertaining.
Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy Cry Wolf as well!
This series is one of my best series. My Review will be on my blog. I love it. I am ready to follow Zoe in her search I want my reading to be close to the real world.
Thanks so much, Betty! You’ve made my day!
Personally, I love a story that has a snippet of something I’ve read about or know of first hand. I think when it does it makes the story more believable like “yep that could happen”.
2clowns at arkansas dot net
Me, too, Kay. Of course, I also love to learn new stuff and visit new places.
A big thank you to the Wickeds for having me here today! I always love visiting with you gals!
Welcome back, Annette! It was so great to see you at Bouchercon. I love the idea of the brother appearing! In my fourth book Sarah’s brother shows up. They were close as coud be until he disappeared from her familie’s life for twenty years. It was so much fun to have them start working through their relationship. I can’t wait to read how this plays out in Zoe’s life!
It was great seeing you too, Sherrie! And congratulations again on taking the helm of Sisters in Crime!
Congratulations, Annette. This is a fabulous entry in the series and readers are going to love it!
I’m going to cheat and say, “Both”. I like a story that rings true because there really does seem to be an element of reality to it, but I want it to become escapist fantasy. I don’t need to read about really serious, gory murders. I get enough of that (really, too much) in the news. Don’t want much, do I? 🙂
Actually, Ginny, you sound exactly like me!
I want escape in all my fiction to a certain extent, however, there are times I enjoy a more realistic version of escape than others.
This new book sounds intriguing. I am only how many books behind already?
Haha, Mark! Well, you just read Lost Legacy, right? So that means you have five to go!
Welcome back, Annette. For my Maine Clambake series, I am constantly inspired by the struggles of folks who live in resort areas–the constant push-pull of offering the amenities guests demand without ruining the charm they came there for in the first place.
It was great to see you at Bouchercon, however fleetingly, and continued success with Cry Wolf!
Thank you, Barb! Bouchercon was great but a little overwhelming! And that is such a real conflict. At one time I thought I’d like to run a B&B, but I don’t have the patience for it.
I am here in your beloved New Mexico, Annette, soaking up santa ferret history and food. It was brilliant to bring Zoe here for a book!
Edith, as soon as I turn in book #8, I’m going to work on a short story set there. Love it! Have fun! (And you have to love auto correct! Santa Ferret? All right!
Escape is fine, it’s those flights of fantasy that keep us sane (and sometimes out of jail) but I have to have a kernel of reality to hang my hat on.
Amen to that, Kait!
Thanks for visiting, Annette! I am never worried about running out of ideas! I worry more about addign too many to a single novel! I don’t know that I bump up against them in any one place. They seem to be scattered about the place like Legos at bedtime!
“Legos at bedtime.” Hahaha! Yes!
It really depends on the story. Some are better with a touch of reality & others need that total escapism.
Thanks for the visual of a corn knife . . . looks wicked enough, but NOT a machete (and I’m a city girl, but even I would know that). Does it close up? (just curious, no plan to get one, really, officer 😉 I did NOT know about grass. Now I do. <3
Terrific book — terrific people!
Mary, that’s a stock image of a knife. I’ll try to find a photo of what was actually used in the book and will post it on Facebook. But no, they don’t fold up. And thanks so much for the kind words!
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