Saturday, April 11, 2015

Please Welcome Award-Winning Novelist D.M. Pulley

Omnimystery News: Guest Post by D.M. Pulley

We are delighted to welcome author D.M. Pulley to Omnimystery News today, courtesy of TLC Book Tours, which is coordinating her current book tour. We encourage you to visit all of the participating host sites; you can find her schedule here.

D.M.'s debut novel, The Dead Key (Thomas & Mercer; March 2015 trade paperback, audiobook and ebook formats), was the winner of the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, capturing both the Grand Prize and the top prize in the Mystery & Thriller Fiction category.

We asked her to tell us more about her characters, which is the subject of her guest post for us today.

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D.M. Pulley
Photo provided courtesy of
D.M. Pulley; photo credit
Steven Mastroianni

In creating The Dead Key, I attempted to view the world through the eyes of my heroines and only write the truth as they see it. My characters are deeply flawed people, struggling to resolve the conflicts in their lives without the benefit of unusual ability. The secrets they keep, the mistakes they make, and the realities they don't want to face are far more interesting to me than superhuman feats or dazzling ingenuity.

As in life, my characters' resolutions are not neat or pretty. It was my goal to bring closure to the story of the bank while recognizing that my heroines will go on, muddling through their lives after the final page. I do not attempt to solve all of their problems. Instead, The Dead Key chronicles the mysterious events that shake the foundations of two ordinary lives.

Beatrice Baker: In the fall of 1978, Beatrice is the newest hire at the First Bank of Cleveland. At only sixteen-years-old, she's dragging a lifetime of baggage behind her as she attempts to navigate the working world. She, like so many of us, believes that if she works hard and does as she's told, good things will come. My heart goes out to Beatrice every step of her journey as she begins to realize that things at the bank are not as they seem.

Beatrice's naiveté and passive nature may be a bit frustrating, but I could not have written her any other way. Beatrice was raised to be sweet, quiet, and accommodating, as many girls still are today. The past from which she's running cultivated her instincts to obey, cower, and hide. As she becomes entangled in the scandal, her first impulse is to duck and run. I have to admit, in the face of such adversity, I would probably do the same thing. It takes a great feat of courage for Beatrice to overcome her passive nature and attempt to save herself. In the end, she proves to be far more than a timid female or hapless victim.

As much as I adore Beatrice on her own merits, she plays an important role in the story of my second heroine, Iris Latch. Beatrice is the shadow Iris follows through the building as both women attempt to unravel the truth behind the bank. Without the specter of the lost secretary haunting her, Iris may never have pursued the truth to its bitter end.

Iris Latch: My 1998 heroine, Iris Latch, is a mess. She drinks too much, she swears too much, and she lacks street smarts. In fact, she lacks nearly all of the characteristics people might associate with engineers. She is not perfectly organized. She is not a consummate professional. She does not know everything there is to know about building construction, or banking for that matter. She is not the smartest person in the room. She's a novice at best. She's a dope at worst. But I love her.

As an engineer myself, I relate to Iris on a very personal level. She is based on my own experiences at my first job out of college. To be clear, I did not show up to work hung over every day, and I did not become entangled in a banking conspiracy. However, I was completely green, disoriented, and frustrated.

While it may be surprising to some, Iris's lack of construction experience is not unusual for an engineer starting her first job. Engineering school does not endow graduates with complete knowledge of anything but calculators and text books. Engineers-in-Training are required to apprentice under a licensed Professional Engineer for four years before they are permitted to work independently. It can takes even more time to earn real responsibility for design or construction. In my experience, nearly all of the skills needed to practice engineering are learned on the job, not in school.

However, Iris's lack of professional competence is not the reason I love her. I sympathize with her because she has no idea who she is or who she wants to be. The fact that she graduated Valedictorian from her small town high school shows she has some books smarts, but, more importantly, it signifies that she had spent her entire life trying to please others. Even picking engineering as a career was her father's idea. That sort of motivation eventually breaks down due its lack of foundation, which is where she's at in life when we meet her in the story. She's feeling trapped and confused, and she's clawing for daylight.

I reached a similar moment in my career. I hated my work and I had no idea where to go next. Fortunately for me, I changed jobs and found a niche in historic preservation and forensic engineering. Iris was not so lucky. However, through solving the mystery hidden inside the bank's safe deposit vault, she manages to find a different way out of her dead end job.

There are plenty of stories to tell about Beatrice, Max and her daughter Mary. However, it was Iris's dissatisfaction and restlessness that propelled The Dead Key forward, and Iris's search for answers will drive the next story.

The novel I am currently writing is a stand-alone mystery/thriller about a mother's disappearance and her son's struggle to find her. However, I can see a follow up to The Dead Key somewhere on the horizon.

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D.M. Pulley Book Tour

D. M. Pulley is a professional engineer from Shaker Heights, Ohio, who specializes in rehabbing historic structures as well as conducting forensic investigations of building failures. Pulley’s structural survey of an abandoned building in Cleveland formed the basis for The Dead Key.

For more information about the author, please visit her website at DMPulley.com, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley

The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley

A Suspense Thriller

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

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

It's 1998, and for years the old First Bank of Cleveland has sat abandoned, perfectly preserved, its secrets only speculated on by the outside world.

Twenty years before, amid strange staff disappearances and allegations of fraud, panicked investors sold Cleveland's largest bank in the middle of the night, locking out customers and employees, and thwarting a looming federal investigation. In the confusion that followed, the keys to the vault's safe-deposit boxes were lost.

In the years since, Cleveland's wealthy businessmen kept the truth buried in the abandoned high-rise. The ransacked offices and forgotten safe-deposit boxes remain locked in time, until young engineer Iris Latch stumbles upon them during a renovation survey. What begins as a welcome break from her cubicle becomes an obsession as Iris unravels the bank's sordid past. With each haunting revelation, Iris follows the looming shadow of the past deeper into the vault — and soon realizes that the key to the mystery comes at an astonishing price.

The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley

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