It’s always a pleasure to bring guests to Magical Musings, but it’s a double pleasure when I get to invite my own writing friends. Melanie and I have belonged to the same writing group for many years now. Years of successes and failures on both sides, and I’m delighted to say Melanie is on a winning streak that I suspect will last the rest of her life.
She’s a multi-published author of romantic suspense, a fan of crime dramas, and an avid reader. Writing is more than an escape for her — it’s a way of life. She grew up in the Deep South listening to tall tales and penning stories about her cats. Now she writes gripping stories of love, suspense, and mystery with the help of her furry little feline muses.
My latest romantic suspense novella, VOODOO BONES, set in New Orleans’ mysterious French Quarter, is filled with all sorts of creepiness. Perfect for this time of year, right? This is a re-release, and I’m excited to see this story out with Desert Breeze!
I look for story ideas everywhere. In my community, on the news, on the Internet… just everywhere. My first writing mentor once told me that “All life is material”, and she was right. I spotted the inspiration for VOODOO BONES in the newspaper — someone really DID find a mutilated corpse in an apartment above a voodoo shop in New Orleans — so the story truly is “ripped from the headlines” like so many Law and Order episodes.
I’ve been a Law and Order: SVU fan for years, but stopped watching the show so obsessively a couple of years ago when I decided the producers were never going to give the shippers what we wanted — an Elliot/Olivia pairing. Now Chris Meloni is gone, so that’s definitely a done deal. I still watch for the cases, though. I also watch In Plain Sight, Southland, The Glades, The Closer, Prime Suspect, Against the Wall, Justified, Dexter, Harry’s Law, Rookie Blue, The Protector, Blue Bloods, Body of Proof, and of course, Castle. Notice a theme here?
Thank goodness all those shows don’t come on year round. Some are summer series, others are on now. I love my DVR. Yes, I watch way too much TV, but I consider it research. I get great ideas from watching all those crime shows. My favorite is Castle — be sure to check out Lee Lofland’s Castle review every Tuesday morning on his blog called The Graveyard Shift; he’s kind enough to let me critique the romance progression while he chomps down on the police procedure (or the lack thereof) — and I try my best to keep up each week. Much of the forensics and the procedure on TV is wrong, and I do other research (conferences, classes, reading, etc.) to make sure I get it right.
As an example of what I do with my research, I took the premise of the dead body above the Voodoo shop and ran with it, with this result for VOODOO BONES:
Noel Galliano has always wanted her own business, and despite critics who believe she won’t succeed, she opens a tiny French Quarter Voodoo shop. What she doesn’t count on is finding a dismembered corpse upstairs. Detective Mathieu Bergeron is considered a screw up around the district station, until he puts away the Bayou Ripper. Then another body is found mutilated, and both his arrest and his competence are thrown into question. Matt and Noel must work together to solve this terrifying crime in the Big Easy…and along the way, they fall in love.
Below is an excerpt. Noel is upset because an intruder broke into the upstairs apartment. Again. Enjoy!
Noel rose and paced in front of him; three steps to the right, and then three steps to the left. “Now I’ll never get to sleep. I live by myself, and I don’t have a gun. No way to protect myself.”
“CSU is upstairs working the scene.” He came to his feet. She was making him nervous. “I’ll arrange for a beat car to give you some extra attention. Do irregular drive-bys, check the building—”
“Do you really think that’ll be enough to keep me safe?” Her voice trembled. “Come on, Matt. Whoever climbed into that apartment tonight was smart. He had to be.”
“I know that, damn it.” Matt wished like hell he could do more, but other than staying with her himself—which was out of the question—all he could do was alert the beat cops to her plight. “There’s nothing more I can do unless there’s an actual attempt on your life.”
“Oh, I see. I have to die before you offer me protection.” Her angry gaze lasered through him. “That makes sense.”
“We’re short-handed right now,” he said, knowing the excuse sounded lame—even though it was true. “We can’t spare anyone to sit on your shop, and that really sucks. Hell, my commander would laugh his ass off if I even asked patrol for special treatment.”
“You’ve already told me you’re not one of his favorite people.”
“Wouldn’t matter who did the asking,” Matt snapped. “He’s not gonna sign off on it.”
“Okay, whatever,” she said, her voice suddenly filled with weary resignation. She rubbed her temples. “I’ll do the best I can to get through the night.”
“I’ll call and arrange for the drive-bys.“ Matt longed to comfort her, but knew he shouldn’t. “I want you to lock up when I leave. Promise me you will.”
“I will. And thanks…for asking them to at least watch the place.”
“Wish I could do more. Noel—” Unable to help himself, Matt brushed a lock of russet colored hair away from her face. His fingertips met her cheek, and a sharp tingle radiated up his arm.
He froze. Up this close, he couldn’t help but draw in her warm, sexy scent. Her silken skin enticed him, and he dragged his thumb across her cheekbone, where a smattering of freckles lurked beneath a thin covering of makeup. God, she was beautiful. Not in the classic sense, but alluring in an earthy, happy-in-her-own skin kind of way.
He smothered a groan.
“Matt?” Her velvety brown eyes dipped to his mouth. “What are you doing?”
“Nothing.” He dropped his hand. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay.” She swallowed, and his gaze dropped to the smooth line of her throat. He imagined tasting her there, enjoying the flavor of her sweet, dewy skin with her pulse pounding beneath his lips. Was her blood racing as fast as his?
She cocked her head. “Hey—shouldn’t you make that call?”
My next few upcoming releases:
KELLER COUNTY COPS BOOK 3: QUEST FOR JUSTICE — January, Desert Breeze
BLOOD RITE — January, Whiskey Creek Press
KELLER COUNTY COPS BOOK 4: DELIVERANCE FROM EVIL — May, Desert Breeze
Please check out my website: http://www.melanieatkins.com
And also my blog: http://melanieatkins.wordpress.com
Lee Lofland’s blog (for our Castle reviews): http://www.leelofland.com/wordpress/