By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ March 8, 2012
Donna: Welcome Debbi. Thank you so much for being my guest and for hosting me on your blog today as well.
I've been a fan of Debbi and her sassy, loyal, quick-witted Sam McRae ever since I won a copy of Debbi's first book IDENTITY CRISIS. That seems such a short time ago and here's Debbi with a track record of a New York Times bestseller and her third novel launching this weekend.
I think a lot of Debbi's success is due to the intelligence underlying her stories. They aren't just clever plots, they deal with important issues that the reader is forced to think about along with trying to solve the crime.
So, Debbi, tell us about how you develop these plots:
Debbi: I’d like to start off by thanking Donna for the invitation to write a guest post. I’m deeply grateful for Donna’s support ever since I published the first novel in the Sam McRae mystery series. In fact, we’ve exchanged guest posts today, so feel free to pop over and read hers here.
When Donna suggested that I write a post about the themes I explore in my stories, this was both an appealing subject and a bit of a poser.
When I write, I don’t tend to think about the theme of the story a lot. Not consciously, anyhow.
However, it’s clear that themes do emerge in the telling of the story.
I think, in my case, those themes relate largely to the nature of my protagonist, Sam McRae.
Sam grew up a white girl in the Brooklyn ghettos during the 1970s, until her parents died in a plane crash when she was nine.
At that point, her cousin Addie took her into her home in Takoma Park, Maryland. Addie was a 20-year-old freelance artist and more like a reckless older sister than a mother. So, Sam spent her adolescent and teen years nearly unsupervised.
When I think of Sam, I see a person who’s overcome adversity to achieve, despite great obstacles. However, I also see someone who’s desperately seeking rules that will help make sense of the world’s chaos. Further, Sam is a person who’s been downtrodden and wants to help the underprivileged, because she can. However, her greatest fear is to become too dependent upon others, because people can let you down and you can only rely upon yourself in the end.
This results in an odd combination of having Sam care about people, yet keeping them at arm’s length. I think if Riptide has a theme other than those of small town racial prejudice, xenophobia and good old boyism, it’s that true friendship creates bonds that transcend all others.
In general, the Sam McRae mystery series tends to explore themes related to the ways that the justice system is far from perfect. Sam has seen how others flagrantly bend or break the rules to trample those in need simply because they have the resources to do it. In an imperfect world, Sam feels little compunction about bending the rules a bit, without breaking them, to even the score.
Stephanie Ann “Sam” McRae’s stay in Ocean City for the annual Maryland bar association convention turns into a busman's holiday when her best friend Jamila is arrested for a murder she didn’t commit. All signs point to a frame, but Jamila’s local counsel must plea bargain, placing a permanent stain on the ambitious attorney’s spotless record, unless Sam and the private investigator on the case find evidence to clear her. Sam has her work cut out for her, given that the victim is the stepson of a local wealthy entrepreneur and poultry producer and no one will talk to her, including the investigator hired on the case. Meanwhile, Jamila herself appears to be holding out on Sam.
With the clock ticking down to the convention and preliminary hearing, Sam must uncover secrets, lies, and fraud to find the real killer. At what cost will that knowledge come for Sam?
Debbi Mack has published two other novels in the Sam McRae mystery series: the New York Times ebook bestseller Identity Crisis, and the sequel Least Wanted. She’s also published Five Uneasy Pieces, a short story collection that includes her Derringer Award–nominated story “The Right to Remain Silent.” Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies and publications, including Shaken: Stories for Japan, an anthology created to benefit Japanese tsunami relief efforts.
A former attorney, Debbi has also worked as a journalist, reference librarian, and freelance writer/researcher. She’s currently working on a young adult novel, planning Sam’s next adventure, and generally mulling over other projects. You can find her online at her website. She also has five blogs, including My Life on the Midlist, The Book Grrl and Random and Sundry Things. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter. Feel free to follow the Riptide Launch Party on Facebook during the book launch week from March 12 to March 17, 2012.
Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more.