I’m often asked which of my books is my favorite, and I can never answer directly. It’s like picking one of your children over the others. I love every book for its unique qualities, its characters, its relationship to my own life. BAD BLOOD SISTERS is my first book set in my hometown, on an island on the Gulf Coast. The main character, Quinn McFarland, struggles with issues of identity, friendship, and betrayal. The whole story is told through Quinn’s point of view, so we get to know and care about her deeply. Also, I wrote the book during Covid lockdown. Quinn’s story occupied my whole life, day and night, for almost a year, and I still think of her often. Quinn might be my Scarlett O’Hara.
NAUGHTY NANA, a children’s picture book, is narrated by my real-live Old English sheepdog, Nana, whose puppyhood was fraught with mishaps in the extreme. My first foray into the world of writing, NAUGHTY NANA introduced me to an illustrator, an audience, public appearances, and all the joys of connecting with readers. Having Nana by my side throughout this adventure has been a spectacular privilege. Nana could be my Curious George—in the book and in real life.
A MURDER OF PRINCIPAL might be my most personal novel, since it is set in an urban high school in the Midwest. I served as an educator in several such schools—they were my homes away from home. I do a lot of research for all of my books, but I did the least amount of research for this one, because my own experience and expertise carried me through most of the story. Assistant Principal, Sally Pierce, who resembles me in a few ways (but is overall purely fictional), is a fascinating amateur sleuth, and R.J. Stoker, the renegade principal who brings unwanted changes to Lincoln High School, is one of my favorite all-time characters.
And then I must consider the three books in the Detective Parrott Mystery Series. MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, A PALETTE FOR LOVE AND MURDER, and CRYSTAL BLUE MURDER. Each of these is also my favorite. Set in the elite countryside of Brandywine Valley, where many of America’s wealthiest and most powerful live, each story is different (and can be read as a standalone), but each brings a new slant on human nature, particularly as it’s affected by money and material things. The main character, Detective Oliver Parrott, is an outsider in the community, which gives him the unique ability to see through the roadblocks thrown at him by the one percenters, who protect their secrets and their turf at all costs. Detective Parrott, despite being young and inexperienced, is a fully-realized agent for truth and justice, and his personal life, including relationship with fiancée (and later wife) Tonya, adds depth and humanity to the stories. Parrott is a wonderful human being, someone who whispers in my ear, commenting on social issues, even at times when I’m not writing him. Parrott is my Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, or Harry Bosch.
Is there a book you’ve read (or written) where you felt galvanized by the main character?
Visit my website here for more information, to order autographed books, and to subscribe to my monthly newsletter,