My special guest today is a very prolific mystery writer. Marilyn Meredith is the author of over twenty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Dispel the Mist from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. No Sanctuary is the newest from Oak Tree Press and a finalist the mystery/suspense category of the Epic best in e-books contest .
She is a member of EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection), Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and is on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She was an instructor for Writer’s Digest School for ten years, and served as an instructor at the Maui Writer’s Retreat and many other writer’s conferences. She makes her home in Springville, CA, much like Bear Creek where Deputy Tempe Crabtree lives. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com
Marilyn, welcome aboard! Those are some wonderful accomplishments and affiliations. It sounds like writing is in your blood. Is it something you always did, or did/do you have other passions besides writing?
MM: I’m the mother of five children. The first part of my life consisted of all the things you do when raising a family, but I was always a reader. The writing I did at the time was mostly PTA newsletters and plays for my Camp Fire Girls to star in. I had all sorts of jobs from being a telephone operator, teaching in a school for developmentally disabled pre-schoolers to owning and operating a licensed residential care home.
MA: So, were you writing throughout all these other avocations or did it come later in life?
MM: I made a couple of attempts when I was in my early thirties, sent them off, was rejected and threw the manuscripts away. When my sister researched our family genealogy, what she found contained a lot of unaswered questions. I wrote two fictional historical family sagas based on the genealogy and after many, many rejections managed to find publishers for both. When I was done I knew I wanted to keep on writing–and mysteries seemed the logical choice since that’s what I was reading.
MA: Quite an interesting journey! I’m impressed by the family connection to your early fiction work. Now, none of your early professions seem to lend themselves to the kind of novels you write, but did you find any inspiration from them?
MM: None of my careers inspired my writing, although I’ve certainly included bits and pieces of different jobs and experiences into some of my stories.
In my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, Tempe is a combination of a female police officer I did a ride-along with, a female resident deputy I wrote a profile article on for the local newspaper, and a Native American artist I’d met on several occasions. In my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, because I feature different members of the department and their families more in one book than another, I have to say they are based on many police officers I’ve met over the years. I’ve had a lot to draw on. We lived in a neighborhood full of police officers and their families; my son-in-law was a 15 year veteran of a beach community police department; and I now have a grandson who is a police officer in a mountain community. I belong to Public Safety Writers Association and many of the members are active or retired law enforcement.
MA: It sounds like law enforcement is certainly part of the family history, so I can see the connection to your work. Tell us about your current projects.
MM: Dispel the Mist is number eight in the Tempe Crabtree mystery series. While helping in the investigation of a popular county supervisor with ties to both the Mexican and Indian communities, Tempe finds herself in deep trouble and has an encounter with the legendary Hairy Man. Our local Indian reservation, which is often the setting for many of the books in this series, has a place called Painted Rock which is a cave of boulders with a pictograph of the Hairy Man–the only Big Foot pictograph in California. When I visited I knew Tempe would also go there.
No Sanctuary is number five in the Rocky Bluff mystery series. I like to say it’s about two churches, two ministers, two wives and one murder.
MA: You mentioned you have had two major protagonists throughout your writing career. Tell us about them.
MM: The heroines in both series are strong women though very different. In both cases, the women lost their first husband and raised a child alone. In Tempe’s case, her son is grown now and off to college and Tempe is married to the pastor of the local church.. In No Sanctuary, Officer Stacey Wilbur’s boy is only five and she’s still single though she is romantically interested in one of the Detectives in Rocky Bluff P.D.
Tempe always sees things differently than the detectives she works with, often going off on her own to make sure the right person is being blamed for the crime, a strength…but one that often causes her problems. Her Indian heritage comes to play often–in this particular book it’s the legends her grandmother told her and dreams that may prophecy the future. Officer Stacey Wilbur is small but able to defuse bad situations without relying on her physical powers and she’s willing to take on new challenges which she does in the latest book when she’s asked to help trap a pedophile.
MA: Since you write mysteries, I assume you have a fair share of “bad guys,” but are there any particular ones that pop up throughout the series?
MM: There are always bad guys in every book–the murderer. But an ongoing character who has caused Tempe problems in the past has a turnaround in this book, Detective Morrison. In the Rocky Bluff novel, one of the police officers, a friend of Stacey’s and Doug’s is a bit on the bumbling side, sometimes to the detriment of a case.
MA: Your depiction of the Painted Rock is a fascinating real-life experience and feature you embedded in your work. What about others? Do you include aspects of other real laces or people in your novels?
MM: When I had the opportunity to visit the Painted Rock site on the reservation and see the pictograph of the Hairy Man, I knew this all had to be included in the plot of Dispel the Mist.
I’ve been a member of several churches over the years, and known good ministers and a few who weren’t so good, and I’ve known their wives, church secretaries, female choir directors and of course a lot of this is part of the plot of No Sanctuary.
MA: What’s next for Marilyn Meredith? Are you going to continue the series?
MM: I have another Rocky Bluff P.D. book called An Axe to Grind coming out after the first of the year, and my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery will appear in September. I just finished another Rocky Bluff novel and I’m starting a new Deputy Tempe mystery right now. Both series are available in all the usual places–except I’m the only one who still has the first two in the Rocky Bluff series which can be purchased from my website. The middle two are only available as e-books on Kindle. The latest and all of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries are also available as e-books.
MA: Marilyn, thanks for coming by the Child Finder Trilogy and sharing your background and your writing with us! I am in awe at all you have accomplished in your life, especially the fact that you have published over 25 novels!
I love a good mystery and I encourage everyone to visit Marilyn’s website to learn more about her and her stories: http://fictionforyou.com