Wednesday, February 03, 2016

A Conversation with Mystery Authors Donna Warner and Gloria Ferris

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Donna Warner and Gloria Ferris

We are delighted to welcome authors Donna Warner and Gloria Ferris to Omnimystery News today.

Donna and Gloria have the first in a new series out, Targeted (Black Opal Books; November 2015 trade paperback and ebook formats), and we recently had the opportunity to spend some time with them talking about it.

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Omnimystery News: Into which genre would you place Targeted? And how important is it to categorize it correctly?

Donna Warner and Gloria Ferris
Photo provided courtesy of
Donna Warner and Gloria Ferris

Donna Warner: Targeted, published by Black Opal Books, is the first in our crime thriller Blair and Piermont series.

Categorizing books is beneficial to us, as authors, and to prospective readers of our novels. From a book marketing perspective, labelling our novels' genres correctly provide our publisher(s) with details they need in order to have our work appear in book retailers' sites in the proper genre lists. In contrast, mislabelling a book's genre can lead to readers being very dissatisfied with their purchase and may result in an author receiving a negative book review.

OMN: How does the title relate to the story?

DW: We begin our story of Targeted with two female tourists exiting an airport bus onto the white sand beach at La Ceiba on the northern coast of the Gulf of Honduras. Nearby, a pair of binoculars protrudes from a red ginger shrub. As the women board a ferry to whisk them to the boutique resort they chose for their vacation on Roatán Island, they are blissfully unaware of two important bits of information: Honduras claims the dubious title of having the highest murder rate per capita in the world. And they have been marked as targets.

OMN: Tell us a little more about these characters.

DW: Our protagonists, Jordan Blair and Darcy Piermont, meet in the enchanting setting of Roatán Island, Honduras. Jordan is taking a much needed break from the Guns and Gangs police squad in Toronto, Canada. She and her former university room-mate, Ellie Cassidy, chose this island for their hiatus. They meet a co-traveller, Darcy, who Ellie is immediately attracted to. He is charismatic, wears designer clothes, brags about having puked his way around the globe a time or two, and has numerous tattoos on his muscular body. In contrast, Jordan's warning senses vibrate like an antennae on a speeding Ferrari.

Jordan and Darcy have polar opposite personalities that provide us with an abundance of writing fodder to amuse readers of this series. With Jordan's introvert tendencies and Darcy's over-the-top personality surprises, we hope readers will be anxious to read about their next adventure in Quebec City.

OMN: It sounds like you'll be taking readers on a series of international adventures! How true are you to these settings?

Gloria Ferris: Targeted takes place in Honduras. Both Donna and I have been there, so we are familiar with the physical aspects of the island of Roatán — everything from the resort décor to the steep mountain passes. In the name of accuracy, we sampled spicy island food and an array of cocktails, especially mojitos that are mentioned in our book cover's tag line. We even swam in a secluded bay with two dolphins. After returning home to Canada, we researched the darker side of Caribbean life to reveal police practices and criminal activities involving tourists. We hope readers enjoy their visit to Targeted's idyllic setting. But, a word of caution if you visit in person — trust no one!

Our next Blair & Piermont Suspense is set in Old Quebec City; the last ramparted city in North America. Donna and I spent four days there, at the world-renowned Le Chateau Frontenac which has an important role to play in the story. We trod the cobblestone streets, stopped to admire the street artists, took a million pictures from a tour bus, and cruised the mighty St. Lawrence River. Unfortunately, we may have to go back again. We missed one or two of Darcy's favourite pubs.

We haven't decided where the third book will be set, but you can be sure that it will either be a locale that Donna and I are familiar with, or we'll be packing our bags to head off on another research adventure.

OMN: How do you see your lead characters developing over the course of the series?

GF: Donna and I talked about this before we started Book 2. Since we're developing a series, we decided that our protagonists' personalities — Jordan and Darcy — would remain relatively static. What will change over time, however, is their relationship. Will Jordan learn to trust Darcy and unbend enough to enjoy his quirks? Will Darcy become Jordan's hero, instead of just her crime-busting partner? Will their relationship grow stronger or fracture as they spend more time together? The possibilities for both serious and humorous interactions are endless.

OMN: What's next for you?

DW: First on my agenda in 2016 is completing the first draft of the sequel to Targeted before handing it over to my co-author. Gloria's attention to detail has earned her the nickname Hawkeye.

As a member of the International Thriller Writers, I recently participated on a panel with 11 other ITW authors to discuss the thriller-related topic: Conciseness, partial clues, short chapters — describe your favorite techniques for strong pacing.

In early February, both Gloria and I will receive a royalty statement from our publisher, Black Opal Books. Gloria is a veteran of receiving this suspenseful sales data. Since this experience is new for me, I'll either be doing a happy dance or dashing for a bottle of white wine to drown my dismay.

Later in the month, we meet with Guelph Partners in Crime, one of our local writers' groups, to organize our author panel at the Guelph Public Library scheduled for April 7. Next is an afternoon with our Killer Authors' group which guarantees laughter and occasionally killing off of a character or two.

I can't thank Gloria enough for accompanying me on research adventures for our suspense series. The locales often require plane travel despite her lack of enthusiasm for flying.

GF: Right now, I'm desperately trying to finish the third book in my solo Cornwall & Redfern Mysteries. Donna is my front-line editor for this series and, the day I email her the manuscript, she will return the favour with the first draft of our second co-authored thriller. We haven't finalized the title yet, but I'm already picturing the cover.

I have a YA urban suspense story which is presently seeking a good home and, if I ever get enough free time, I would love to write down the words to the sequel that claw at my brain when I should be sleeping.

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Prior to writing fiction, Donna Warner taught adult education college courses; owned a private vocational school; was communication manager of a national toxicology research network; and was a freelance editor. When not attempting to outsmart fish at her cottage, home is a country property near Guelph, Ontario, Canada. She enjoys tutoring her English as a Second Language students and swapping writing, editing, and marketing ideas with authors in two local writers' groups.

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

Gloria Ferris began her writing career by writing and editing operating procedures for a nuclear power development. It was an exciting job, but opportunities for plot and character development were limited. So she turned to crime fiction and found it to be a lot more fun. Gloria moved back to her native Guelph in 2008 after spending 20 plus years in several small towns by Lake Huron which inspired the setting for her mysteries. The stories are written in a humorous style, but the crimes are deadly serious.

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

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Targeted by Donna Warner and Gloria Ferris

Targeted by Donna Warner and Gloria Ferris

Mojitos, Moonlight … and Murder

Publisher: Black Opal Books Print/Kindle Format(s) Print/Nook Format(s)iTunes iBook FormatKobo eBook Format

What could be better than a week of sipping mojitos, basking in the sun, and listening to waves lap against a Caribbean beach? Nothing, according to Jordan Blair and her friend, Ellie Cassidy. Until their vacation takes a sinister turn …

The former occupant of their room has vanished and the resort manager is unconcerned. He suggests the woman has taken off for a romantic interlude with a sailboat skipper. Given the visible police presence, Jordan doesn't buy it. Another guest attaches himself to Jordan and Ellie, but his covert activities arouse Jordan's suspicions. Could he have been involved with the woman's disappearance?

Plagued by unanswered questions, Jordan trusts the wrong man. Now, she and Ellie are running for their lives. Will her survival skills save them or result in a fight she can't win?

Targeted by Donna Warner and Gloria Ferris


  1. Gloria & Donna, Excellent interview! I enjoyed learning more about your writing journeys and look forward to reading Targeted. Joanne :)


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