Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Conversation with Mystery Author Peggy Rothschild

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Peggy Rothschild
with Peggy Rothschild

We are delighted to welcome mystery author Peggy Rothschild to Omnimystery News today.

Peggy's new high desert thriller is Clementine's Shadow (Moonstone Publishing, April 2013 trade paperback and ebook formats).

We recently had the chance to catch up with Peggy to talk about her book.

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Omnimystery News: Is Clementine's Shadow a stand-alone or the first in a series of thrillers?

Peggy Rothschild
Photo provided courtesy of
Peggy Rothschild

Peggy Rothschild: When I started writing Clementine's Shadow, I wanted to tell a story from four points of view, with a tight timeline where all the characters end up in the same place trying to rescue a little girl. Because of the multiple POVs, I envisioned it as a standalone, but lately I've started thinking about future story lines for two of the characters. I can see centering a story on Jane — five years down the road — when she's a sheriff's deputy. I also have a story idea for a mystery that focuses on Brady and a long-ago murder that occurred on his land. At this point, I envision Casey Lang in a supporting role for any future stories.

I do have a series in the works which focuses on locksmith and security expert Folsom Munion. I think with any character — and particularly in a series — the experiences they go through during the course of a novel should change them in some way — whether or not that change is for the better. I've mapped out the plots for three mysteries featuring Folsom Munion, with each tale taking her further over the line in terms of breaking and entering.

OMN: Give us a summary of the book in a tweet.

PR: A missing child and four unlikely heroes. Clementine's Shadow by @PegRothschild is a 5 star #Thriller http://amzn.to/18xbaj2

OMN: Did you include any of your own experience into the book?

PR: Though I have a background in art and have spent a lot of time working in clay, I don't throw on the wheel like Brady Stone. I have done a lot of hiking in both the mountains and desert and, as an old friend pointed out, spent some time lost in the Anza Borrego Desert with only a topographical map and a dwindling supply of water. I've also been in a couple caves and experienced the profound darkness found there. To feel confident about writing the gun scenes, I took the PC832 class at the community college. The class is part of required peace officer training and I was the only person there who wasn't attending for that reason. The material covered was fascinating. Not only did we explore a wide range of situations and the applicable laws of arrest, we learned how to properly cuff someone, how to use the ‘follow-along' hold, and had to qualify on the firing range to pass the class. (I did pass!)

OMN: Describe your writing process for us.

PR: I always create character biographies, but don't usually outline before I begin. I tend to have a broad concept and know where the story will end, but find the process of outlining dampens my enthusiasm. I like to learn things along the way. Since I was writing from four points of view in Clementine's Shadow, in addition to creating character bios, I drafted a lexicon for each character which included favored expressions, grammar, curse words, etc. As for the story line, I knew where the action would climax but didn't have everything mapped out in terms of how to get each character there for the "showdown".

OMN: How does the name "Clementine" fit into the storyline?

PR: For my stand-alone mysteries, my plan is to incorporate a woman's name into each title (I'm currently editing Erasing Ramona). While researching mines and early mining methods, I came across the lyrics to My Darling Clementine (attributed to Percy Montrose). While I remembered singing the opening verses as a child — and hearing the cartoon character Huckleberry Hound croon the song as well — I never learned the latter verses and was surprised at their content. The idea of "How I missed her, how I missed her, how I missed my Clementine. So I kissed her little sister, and forgot my Clementine" struck me as pretty creepy — and more or less perfect for my story. So I named the peak that looms above the mine, Clementine Ridge. For the cover, I wanted either the image of a mine entrance or the California desert floor. In the end, I thought the desert was a more pervasive presence in the story and should be the image that wrapped around the novel.

OMN: What kind of research did you do for the more technical aspects of the plot?

PR: I read books and did a lot of internet research. A large portion of my research never ends up in the story, but gathering information gives me a feeling of being well-grounded in the tale. I spent time reading up on caves, mines, California's mining history and High Desert flora and fauna. I also visited sites which I thought would help me bring the setting to life. Though Clementine's Shadow is set in the fictional county of Zanja Seca, I visited the Antelope Valley along with other parts of the California High Desert to get a feel for the region and landscape — and the summer heat!

OMN: It sounds like setting is an important element to the book.

PR: All my mysteries are set in California — though I usually change the name of the city which I'm using as the basis for the story. For Clementine's Shadow, I took elements of Acton, CA, the Antelope Valley and the Red Rover Mine and melded them with other mines in the region to create my fictional town and county. I didn't want to use a real county; the idea of insulting the hard-working sheriff departments that patrol these wide expanses didn't sit right with me. Besides, with a fictional town, you can have a lot more creative fun.

OMN: Let's assume you're the casting director for an adaptation of Clementine's Shadow. Whose agents are you calling?

PR: I've had several people tell me they see Jeff Bridges in the part of Brady — I suspect because Brady reminds them of The Dude. But I think it would be fun to see someone like George Clooney take on that role and what woman wouldn't want to see him streak? For Casey, I picture Kate Winslett — since she can do tough and smart (and rock an American accent!). For Jane, I think Abigail Breslin — if she dyes her hair brown — would be a great choice; she has the range and is the right age. I think Hunter Parrish would make a great Winston — he can play wounded with the best.

OMN: What kinds of books did you read when you were young? And who do you read today?

PR: I've always read across genres — maybe even more so as a child. I read all the Nancy Drew mysteries, but my favorite book in elementary school was Johnny Tremain. That book sparked my interest in history; I think successful books make you want to read more about the subject or period in which they're set. I was also a huge Charles Dickens and Louisa May Alcott fan, but my early love of mysteries did influence me. My favorite authors today include mystery writers C.J. Box, Jan Burke, Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Tana French, Sue Grafton and Jo Nesbø.

OMN: The authors you mention all write series. Do you have a favorite series character?

PR: Oh boy, I can't pick just one. I love Kinsey Millhone, Harry Bosch, Joe Pike, Elvis Cole, and Harry Hole. Though I'm not sure I'd want to hang out with any of them — except maybe Elvis — for an entire afternoon.

OMN: Create a Top 5 list for us on any topic.

PR: Top 5 Mysteries You Should Read:

Police Procedurals: The Black Box, Michael Connelly; Breaking Point, C.J. Box; Broken Harbor, Tana French.

Private Eye/Private Citizen: Suspect, Robert Crais; Phantom, Jo Nesbø.

And I hate to leave out Harlan Coben's Six Years, Margaret Coel's The Perfect Suspect, Dennis Lehane's Moonlight Mile or Lou Berney's Gutshot Straight.

OMN: What's next for you?

PR: I hope to finish editing Erasing Ramona by the end of July — which will free me up to focus on a YA story I've been researching and writing. Set in California's Mendocino Forest, The Lilith Express has been a trip-and-a-half in the writing!

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Peggy Rothschild grew up in Los Angeles. Always a mystery-lover, she embraced the tales of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys before graduating to the adult section of the library. An English major in high school, she switched to art — her other passion — in college. At present, Peggy lives in the beach community of Ventura with her husband and their cats. In her spare time she focuses on transforming their yard into a drought-tolerant paradise.

To learn more about Peggy and her work, please visit her website at PeggyRothschild.com or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Clementine's Shadow by Peggy Rothschild

Clementine's Shadow
Peggy Rothschild
A High Desert Thriller

After moving to the California High Desert for a new start, Deputy Casey Lang faces a hard truth: She must work through her fear of shooting another child or kiss her career goodbye. The disappearance of a six-year-old girl from a summer concert in the park puts Casey's resolve to the test. The only member of the local force with experience working a kidnapping, Casey knows she is the department's best chance for finding the child.

Set in a scorched landscaped of played out silver mines and dry riverbeds, Clementine's Shadow tells the story of a child snatched by a predator and the desperate hunt to find her.

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)  BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)

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