Talkshow Thursday: Meet Mary Dodge Allen
Mary: Yes, I discovered that a mail carrier makes an ideal amateur sleuth. Mail carriers can drive around town observing people and activities, while remaining ‘invisible’ in plain sight. And have you ever thought about how much your mail carrier can learn about you – from the newsletters and magazines you receive and the return addresses on your letters and packages? My main character, Roxy is a mail carrier with an amazing photographic memory. She can recall the names/addresses on mail, along with vehicle license plate numbers, etc. And she knows just about everyone in her small Florida town - where, it seems, many people are harboring secrets.
LM: What is your favorite aspect of writing?
Mary: I love the process of developing the characters - giving them their backstories, personalities and quirks, as well as their fears and their goals. My past experience as a social worker and a counselor helps me a great deal in this. I also enjoy placing these characters in scenes and creating the action and dialogue.
LM: What sort of research did you conduct for the book?
LM: How do you prepare yourself for writing? (e.g. write an outline, set up in a particular location, turn on music, etc.)
Mary: I always listen to my favorite instrumental music – classical and jazz. When planning Hunt for a Hometown Killer, I drew up an overall plot and scene outline, but then I let my imagination run free as I wrote. My characters often surprised me with behaviors and dialogue I hadn’t consciously planned. Quite often they added humor to the scenes, and sometimes they added another layer of intrigue to the plot.
LM: How do you feel growing up in the same place during your entire childhood, then relocating often after you married impacted your writing?
Mary: I loved growing up in a small community, where everyone knew each other, and relationships were close. After high school, I moved to another state to attend a large college and live in a dorm. This was a difficult adjustment that tested me in many ways. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t defined by my past. I realized this was an opportunity for me to make my own decisions and set goals to become the kind of person I wanted to be.
My husband and I made several cross-country moves in the early years of our marriage. Each move gave me the opportunity to meet new people and experience a new environment. I believe these varied experiences helped me to become a better writer. Florida has been our home for many years. It’s a place of beauty—turquoise ocean waves, sandy beaches, balmy breezes. But it’s also a place where people commit strange crimes, and danger lurks in the form of hurricanes, sinkholes, gators and giant snakes. In other words, it’s a great setting for my books.
LM: What is your next project?
|Photo: Pixabay/Siggy Nowak|
LM: Where can folks find you on the web?
Hunt for a Hometown Killer:
Two years to the day after Roxy Silva’s husband was murdered, a freak sinkhole drains a retention pond, exposing the car used in his fatal hit and run. The skeleton of the presumed prime suspect, the car’s owner, is found inside the trunk, thrusting the investigation in a new direction.
Detective Kyle Ransom is determined to find his best friend’s killer, and Roxy is equally determined to help. As a mail carrier, she can remain invisible as she moves around town. Using her total recall memory, she observes activities and captures images of people, vehicles and license plates, as well as the addresses on mail and packages she delivers. Roxy has no idea her amateur sleuthing will place her life in danger.
Together, Roxy and Kyle uncover a shocking trail of deception and secrets. As they work on the cold case, their relationship heats up. Kyle’s wife died years ago, and he’s ready for a commitment. But Roxy is recovering from the depression triggered by her husband’s murder and other sudden and tragic losses in her life. She’s struggling with a deep-seated fear of loss, her faith, and finding meaning in a chaotic world. Complications arise when Roxy’s first love comes back into her life, wanting a second chance. Old feelings of attraction and bitterness surface, as she confronts a long-buried secret in her own past.
Kyle identifies a new prime suspect, and the killer drops out of sight. When Roxy leaves on a ‘wilderness women getaway’ camping trip with her wisecracking friends, she finds herself in danger as the killer stalks her. She returns home, and the killer follows. Roxy is plunged in a fight for her life when she’s taken captive, and she must use her wits to survive.