Monday, July 9, 2012

Two Detectives Are Better Than One: An interview with mystery writer Lauren Carr

Today I'm talking with mystery writer Lauren Carr about her cross-over mystery Shades of Murder.


1) Please tell us about your book.

In Shades of Murder, Mac Faraday is once again the heir to an unbelievable fortune. This time the benefactor is a stolen art collector. But this isn’t just any stolen work-of-art—it’s a masterpiece with a murder attached to it.

Ilysa Ramsay was in the midst of taking the art world by storm with her artistic genius. Hours after unveiling her latest masterpiece—she is found dead in her Deep Creek Lake studio—and her painting is nowhere to be found. Almost a decade later, the long lost Ilysa Ramsay masterpiece has found its way into Mac Faraday’s hands and he can’t resist the urge to delve into the case.

A world away, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; former JAG lawyer Joshua Thornton agrees to do a favor for the last person he would ever expect to do a favor—a convicted serial killer. The Favor: Solve the one murder wrongly attributed to him.

 Joshua finds an unexpected ally in Cameron Gates, a spunky detective who has reason to believe the young woman known to the media only as Jane Doe, Victim Number Four, was the victim of a copycat. Together, Joshua and Cameron set out to light a flame under the cold case only to find that someone behind the scenes wants the case to remain cold, and is willing to kill to keep it that way.

Little do these detectives know that the paths of their respective cases are on a collision course when they follow the clues to bring them together in a showdown with a killer who’s got a talent for murder!

2) Please tell us about your two detectives. How are they different? How are they similar?

Mac Faraday is a homicide detective whose wife leaves him and takes everything. On the day his divorce becomes final, he inherits $270 million dollars and an estate on Deep Creek Lake from his birth mother, world famous mystery writer Robin Spencer, the American version of Agatha Christie. Upon her death, it is revealed that she had a baby out of wedlock as a teenager. That baby grew up to be homicide detective.

Having grown up in a middle class family, and being an underpaid detective, Mac is still in awe of his windfall. He remains grounded, even though he is surrounded by wealth and extravagance. Having a cunning sense of humor, he is even amused by the lifestyles of his rich and famous neighbors.
Joshua Thornton is a contrast to Mac. The Joshua Thornton Mysteries were my first books. I was in a different chapter of my life which is reflected in Joshua’s character. A single father of a large family, Joshua is more serious than Mac Faraday, who jokingly thinks of himself as a millionaire playboy. Mac is more humorous than Joshua.

Following his wife’s death, Joshua Thornton leaves a promising career in the U. S. Navy’s JAG division to move across country with his five children into his ancestral home, which is a small country town in West Virginia.

Both Mac and Joshua are honorable men of integrity who always try to do the right thing.
Readers familiar with Joshua are going to find that he lightens up in the Lovers in Crime Mysteries. Now that his children are growing up and he has more independence, he is free to embark in a new romance with detective Cameron Gates. The first installment in this series is Dead on Ice, which will be out this fall.

3) Why did you decide to create a cross-over of your two mystery series?

I had been asked by fans of the Joshua Thornton Mysteries to bring Joshua back. So I decided to include him into this Mac Faraday mystery. Since Joshua and Mac don’t know each other, I had to come up with two murder mysteries that, on the surface, don’t appear to be connected, and then bring them together. Coming up with this puzzle was not only a challenge, but a lot of fun.

4) What's your favorite part of writing mysteries?

The creation of the puzzle. I view a mystery as a story puzzle. The mystery writer puts together the murder mystery, complete with the characters, their separate agendas, evidence, and clues. Then, the writer takes it all apart and scatters it throughout a story that takes the reader on a thrilling adventure of mystery.

5) What got you interested in writing mysteries?

I fell in love with mysteries when my mother read Perry Mason to me at bedtime. She loves murder mysteries and devours them. As a matter of fact, the libraries in and around Chester, West Virginia, have mysteries brought in from other libraries for her because she’s read all they have in stock.
Out of four children, I’m the only one who inherited her love for mysteries books. Like her, I would inhale every mystery I could get my hands on, but I felt writing mysteries would be too difficult to tackle. However, eventually, the mysteries that I was reading ceased to be challenging enough. That was when I started writing my own mysteries with lots of twists and turns to challenge the reader.

6) Do you have any authors who influenced you?

Having grown up on the masters, I definitely look to Agatha Christie and Earl Stanley Gardner. I also like the twisting plotlines of Tess Gerritsen.

7) Mysteries have remained a consistently popular genre for the entire history of mass market popular literature. Why do you think that is?

Mysteries cover a broad genre, which encompasses a wide range of sub genres. What makes this genre so great is that it is flexible enough to change with the times. The genre is not confined by time period or technology. It has the capabilities of growing with our society, which makes it every changing.

For example, when science came to the forefront in crime solving, then mystery writers easily adapted. A whole new subgenre grew out of that to include forensics detectives.

8) Do you think reader expectations have changed throughout the decades?

Most definitely. Readers, especially die-hard mystery fans, are quite sophisticated, and are becoming more so with the Internet, which has put scientific information at readers fingertips.

As a result, mystery writers must keep up with science and technology in law enforcement and the courts, because our readers do. An author can’t write a mystery that completely ignores forensics anymore, unless they create a situation where it is not available, like a period piece where the story happens before forensics came to the forefront, or set in a remote location where it is unavailable.

9) What other mysteries do you have planned for these detectives in the future, either separate or together?

I’m starting a new series called the Lovers in Crime mysteries. Coming this fall, Dead on Ice introduces a new series featuring Joshua Thornton and Cameron Gates. In Dead on Ice, Pennsylvania State homicide detective Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of a porn star whose mummified remains are found in an abandoned freezer in Joshua’s cousin’s basement.

It doesn’t take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué Hollywood legend’s roots were buried in their small rural town, something that she had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept it off her road map, too. Because when this starlet came running home from the mob in 1985, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.

For this book tour, I am holding a contest for readers to name the female porn star found in the freezer. Not only are they to supply the stage name the star used in her films, but her real name from her childhood in the Chester, West Virginia/Pittsburgh area. The winner will receive all three Deep Creek Lake mysteries, plus a print edition of Dead on Ice upon its release, as well as a Lovers in Crime coffee mug. Contest is running from June 1-July 31.

Readers are to submit their entries to me via e-mail: writerlaurencarr@ Subject line is to read Name the Porn Star. Be sure to include your name, e-mail address, and mailing address. The winner will be decided by me and my muses (my two dogs).

I am also working on the next book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries. In Flash from the Past, Mac (and readers) finds out about Archie Monday’s past.

10) Please tell us about your other previous works.

I wrote my first book after giving up my writing career to be a stay-at-home mom. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award.

A Small Case of Murder is set in the quaint West Virginia town of Chester, where everyone knows everyone, and there is never a secret that someone doesn’t know. While clearing out the attic after moving into the family homestead, Joshua’s children find a letter written to their grandmother postmarked 34 years ago.

In the letter Lulu Jefferson wrote “…Remember that dead body we found in the Bosley barn?...I saw him today…I went to talk to the reverend and there was his picture on the wall.” What dead body? His interest piqued, Joshua asks about Lulu and finds that in 1970 she died on the same day that she penned the letter implicating the pastor in an unreported murder. There is much more to this story than a 34-year-old letter. It’s a 34-year-old mystery!

Today, a double murder has the whole town under a microscope. The state attorney general appoints Joshua special prosecutor to solve the crimes. In a small town where gossip flies as swiftly as a spring breeze it is impossible to know who to trust. Asking simple questions about events long ago could prove to be deadly for Joshua and his family.

The second installment in the Joshua Thornton Mysteries was A Reunion to Die For. Prosecutor Joshua Thornton becomes the prime suspect in the murder of Gail Reynolds. Gail returns to Chester to investigate a classmate’s death, only to spark a murder spree in which she becomes one of the victims.

In 2010, I released the first installment of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, It’s Murder, My Son, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. Since its release in May, Shades of Murder has been receiving rave reviews.


Thanks, Lauren.

If you want to see more from Lauren, she can be found at:

Shades of Murder can be purchased at Amazon.


Lauren Carr said...

Hello, J.A. and Friends! It's great to be here today!


Bk Walker said...

Wonderful interview. Thank you for hosting Lauren today :)