Query on Top

Query on Top

Let’s catch up with a few of the burning questions from my inbox and DM’s, shall we? I’ll try not to make you nod off into your whiskey. Also…I’ll say it forever because it’s true. I’m not nearly as interesting as my characters. You’ve been warned.

Are there ever scenes that are emotionally difficult to create?
Artie Walls, Toronto

That’s such a good question, and the answer is yes. In every book.
Like the character of Moxie, who wormed her way into Return to McCall. Her feelings of abandonment and desperation, the kind that closes in around you when you realize you’re alone in the world, hit close to home. Trying to survive is exhausting and if you have to do it, it’s all you can think about.
I think that’s what made her relationships with Mary and Sam so special. Mary saw her tender heart right away and made a safe space for Moxie to unfold, to take a breath and rest. Sam stepped in, had her back from the first minute and never budged. Which, when you’re Moxie, is the only thing in the world that matters.
It’s easier to write fluff characters than to dig deep. It’s also boring as shit. We have enough of that in the world.

You have a new book coming out soon, right? What’s your favorite scene in that one? And why?
Sarah McCarthy, Florida

I do have a book dropping this summer, Undercurrent, which is a tense romantic mystery set in Salem, Massachusetts. It’s available for preorder at BoldStrokesBooks.com, and if the idea of six female FBI agents holed up in a remote cabin trying to catch a serial killer appeals to you, you’ll love it.
In the first chapter, one of the agents, Maren from Australia, doesn’t get the memo about being drafted onto the task force that’s being formed to catch the killer. She’s on an all lesbian cruise and couldn’t give a single shit what’s going down on the mainland—until Special Agents  Trobaugh and Hooper are helicoptered in to drag her ass to work. The problem is, when they finally find her she’s getting a lap dance from a gorgeous woman and not at all interesting in jumping ship, shall we say.
In this scene, Trobaugh and Hooper have just spotted her on the top deck and attempt to drag her back to reality:

     Hooper didn’t answer, just elbowed Trobaugh and pointed to the opposite end of the pool. A blonde in her early twenties with enough oil glistening on her body to lube a fleet of Nissans was dancing in front of someone lounging on the tiled edge of the pool. She’d just started an impressive lap dance when Hooper noticed that the woman reclining on the tiled edge of the pool held a Corona in each hand and a lime wedge in her mouth, which seemed to track with what they already knew about Maren’s reputation. They both lowered their sunglasses to watch as she poured one of the Coronas across the breasts of the girl gyrating on her lap, then dropped the lime between them and followed the trail of beer with her tongue. She was also wearing an open Hawaiian shirt.
     “They really aren’t paying me enough for this shit.” Trobaugh rubbed her temples as she started toward the other end of the pool, dodging a beach ball that narrowly missed her head. Hooper grabbed it and threw it back to a group of laughing women in the pool.
     “Really?” Hooper nodded toward one of them who had decided to compete topless. “I think they might be overpaying us. Maybe we should stay and put in some overtime to even things out a bit.”
     “Let’s just corral this frat boi they call an agent and get the hell out.” Trobaugh held her ears as another dance song amped up from the DJ booth. “I need my feet back on solid ground.”
     By the time they arrived at the far end of the pool, it was obvious they’d found who they were looking for; even the shirt was the same as the picture. She was wearing mirrored aviator sunglasses, oversized khaki cargo shorts and slapped the girl’s ass with a loud thwack as the lap dancer turned around and started grinding into her with her arms firmly around Maren’s neck.
     “Jesus.” Hooper shook her head and shifted to make eye contact with the agent, which was difficult since they seemed to be locked on the nearly naked girl in her lap. The music pounded in the background, and Trobaugh leaned back to avoid a sudden splash of pool water as someone jumped in next to them. “What’s the protocol for interrupting a lap dance in progress? I’m drawing a blank on that procedure.”
     Trobaugh smiled. “In the interest of safety, we should probably just let this come to a natural end, don’t ya think?” They both tilted their heads in the same direction and watched as the girl stood up slowly and whipped off her bright yellow bikini top, dropping it in the pool.
     Hooper lowered her sunglasses and shook her head. “On second thought, that’s a really bad idea.” They made sure their badges were visible as they approached but shouldn’t have bothered. They had to speak up twice before Maren even acknowledged them, still without so much as a glance in their direction.
     “Nah, mate. I’m good on beer for the minute.” Maren pulled the now-topless girl back down onto her lap, her Australian accent dripping decadence. “I’ll let ya know when I need something.”
     “We’re not waitstaff.” Hooper made a valiant effort not to look at the topless girl straddling her thighs. “You’re Maren James, correct?”
     “Nope.” The girl on Maren’s lap answered for her, her hot pink lip gloss shimmering under the lights as she spoke. “Her name is Stone Cold. She just told me.”
     Maren finally turned her head long enough to notice their badges, rolled her eyes, and promised the girl on her lap she’d meet her at the bar in five. Her face downshifted into an instant pout, and she kissed Maren good-bye like she was going to war. Trobaugh loudly cleared her throat until the girl finally got the message and dove into the pool, retrieving her bikini top as she made her way to the bar. Maren watched, then turned around slowly, pulling her sunglasses from her shirt and flicking them open with one finger.
     “Look, mate. I don’t know what this is about, but I’m on vacation.” She drew out the word for emphasis while she scanned the pool area behind them, then winked at a girl by the DJ booth before she finally pulled her attention back to Trobaugh and Hooper. “As in, I’m not an agent for the next week. So, I’d appreciate it if ya’d stop harshing my vibe up in here and let me get back to what I do best.”
     “We’re Special Agents Trobaugh and Hooper. And it’s not like you didn’t know we were coming.” Trobaugh took the sunglasses off Maren’s face and handed them to her. “Pick up your shit, and let’s go.”
     Maren pulled out her phone and scrolled. “Are you talking about the endless emails I’ve been getting for the last two days?” She stopped and clicked on one of them, scanning it briefly. “Why would they even send me emails when I’m on vacation? At the very least they should assume I’m not going to read them. Like, there should be a law in this freakin’ country about it. There’s a law about every-fucking-thing else.”
     “Picking up your phone would’ve made this a lot easier, but we’ve got a serial killer amping into turbo mode in Salem, Massachusetts, and you’ve been assigned to a task force to help find him.” Trobaugh paused, choosing her words carefully. “Apparently, you have a reputation for seeing patterns that other agents miss, so this is not an option. It’s an order. From both your home bureau and headquarters.”
     “Which you would have known if you’d answered your phone.” Hooper stared as a beautiful blond crew member with warm hazel eyes wove through the crowd and leaned into Maren. The overhead bistro lights sparkled across her tan lines, and she tucked a glossy wave of hair behind her ear as she spoke. “Same place tonight? I’ll text you. I get off at twelve.”
he winked at Maren over her shoulder as she disappeared back into the crowd, and Hooper shook her head. “Well, would you look at that? You can use a phone.”
     Maren set her beer on the edge of the pool and glanced at Trobaugh. “How many bodies?”
     “Three.” Trobaugh held her gaze. “And counting.”
     Maren nodded, buttoning her shirt up over her beer-stained tank top. “In how many days?”
     “Fuck.” She sighed and dropped her cell phone back in the pocket of her cargo shorts. “Well, at least the fun-sucking dramatics make a wee bit more sense now, mate.”
     The three of them headed toward the elevator, only to have Maren’s lap dancer spot them as they passed the bar. She popped off her barstool and headed over, still tying the shoulder strings of her bikini back together.
     “Wait. I thought you said you’d meet me after you were done with…” She paused, sweeping Trobaugh and Hooper head to toe, searching for the right word, “the suits.”
     “No can do, love. I’m—”
     “Getting arrested.” Trobaugh cut in and flashed her badge. “She’s going to have to come with us.”
     “Seriously?” Her voice dropped to a sultry purr, and she trailed a manicured fingertip down Maren’s arm. “That’s kind of sexy. Can I watch?”
     Trobaugh picked up a beer the bartender had just flicked the top from and downed it in less than five seconds, setting it back down on the bar with a thunk. “Fuck me, man. I need a leaf blower, but for people.” She grabbed Maren by the shoulder and shoved her in front of them, lightly twisting her arm behind her back as she did. “Party’s over, Romeo, turns out this isn’t your balcony.”

Do you think you’ll live in your tiny house forever? 
Billie Yates, UK

I get this question a lot, and I’m going to finally answer it because plans are firm. I’m retiring to Ireland in a few years and plan to never return to the States. I’ll more than likely buy a regular sized house over there, something by the sea, but a piece of me will always be lurking among these trees. I’ll miss them.

I noticed something on the cover of the Return to McCall that made me think there may be more books to come? Maybe a series?
Chris Tattinger, Auckland

Yes Ma’am. We’ll be returning to McCall next year and hopefully a few more times after that.

Are you taking girlfriend applications? Asking for a friend. 
Janene Hareth, OK

Nope. And count your blessings. I’m more complicated than I look.


7 Replies to “Query on Top”

  1. Love that you have an Aussie in your next novel! Thought the syntax is perfect.
    Also this line “ enough oil glistening on her body to lube a fleet of Nissans ” is bloody brilliant!
    Can’t wait to read the whole thing!!

  2. Hmmm I wonder if they’ll have lap dances on our cruise. I can’t wait for the book and I noticed you brought Trobaugh and Hooper back yay! Undercurrent in July I think that’s when it comes out. Dang a long wait. 😄 it’s like I expect you to just churn them out. Oh I’m a greedy fan. I was very happy to hear about more McCall books. I can’t wait to read some more of those also. See what lil Moxie is up to. I loved McCall and Return to McCall quickly became one of my favorites. So I’m not surprised to read you want to retire to Ireland. You have mentioned quite a few times how much you love that country. All your critters will miss you, but wild as they are they’ll carry-on. Oh I disagree about you not being an interesting woman you most certainly aren’t run of the mill average Boi. Nope not at all. Anyone with a mind like yours is definitely interesting Evans. Not taking applications for a gf? Well maybe your just waiting for that over in Ireland with a fine Irish lassie. I’m sure that’d float your boat. Ok now I’ll sign off for now. Thanks again for sharing 😊 I do truly appreciate this.

  3. I think my goal for checking out the first of your books to read will be Undercurrent. I love mysteries and suspense and especially, novels with leading female detective.

    1. Thank you so much Gaile! Keep your eyes peeled for the first two chapters of the book, I’ll post them for free about a month before it’s available. Looking forward to hearing what you think!