Today’s special guest is mystery author Ann Charles. She’s chatting with me about Devil Days in Deadwood (Book 11 in the Deadwood Humorous Mystery Series).
USA Today Bestselling author, Ann Charles, writes spicy mysteries full of comedy, adventure, suspense, romance, and supernatural mayhem. When she’s not dabbling in fiction, she’s arm wrestling with her two kids, attempting to seduce her husband, and arguing with her sassy cats.
Please tell us about your current release:
Devil Days in Deadwood (Book 11 of the Deadwood Humorous Mystery Series)
“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” ~William Shakespeare
Violet Parker knows better than to play with devils. They always cheat, especially when lives are at stake. Deadwood’s charming, troublemaking, and soul-sucking devils are no different, and they’re biting at her heels.
But the clock is ticking and Violet has no choice—she must risk her life to save her treasured Aunt Zoe. With any luck, she might be able to trick the devils and beat the old terrors at their own game. If not, Deadwood could end up short one Executioner.
“Executioners don’t duck, they swing.” ~Violet Parker
What inspired you to write this book?
(Since this book is part of a series, I’ll answer this for the series.) I spent a lot of time growing up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, especially around the town of Deadwood. While my mom worked at a tourist shop every day, I would spend time visiting museums and hanging out in the library and exploring the little nooks and crannies around town. Many years later, I was visiting my mom while pregnant with my second child and wondered what it would be like to be a single mother trying to make a living selling real estate in the Old West town. Deadwood is notorious for its history of gold fever and violence (and it is rumored to be full of ghosts), so the possibilities for fun and adventure in fiction are abundant.
That is how the Deadwood Humorous Mystery series starring Violet Parker was born.
Excerpt from Devil Days in Deadwood:
Once upon a time not so very long ago in a small mountain town known for several bigger than life historical figures like Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Seth Bullock, there lived a single mom who believed ghosts weren’t real, enchanted mirrors were only found in fairy tales, and love was for suckers.
Boy howdy, life had sure taken a torpedo and blown those beliefs to smithereens.
Now, here I sat in a haunted house with a bossy ghost who liked to take her frustrations out on me, a magic mirror possibly full of incredible terrors, and a sexy medium who held my heart in his hands.
What was next? Little green men in flying saucers? Unicorns with wings? A cyclops named Burt?
“Constable,” Prudence called to Cooper, bringing me back to the situation at hand—Doc lying on the couch and me cuddling an alchemist’s looking glass. “Move behind Violet so that you can see into the mirror as well.”
Cooper joined Doc and my floor show, staring at me in the mirror. “I’d better not end up with another black eye from this, Parker.”
I stuck my tongue out at him.
He tugged on my hair.
Some things never changed, whether there were ghosts and imps or not.
“We’re ready,” I told Prudence while peering at Doc around the side of the mirror. His eyes were closed, his breathing slow and steady. I’d seen him slip into this state several times before the start of a séance. As for me, my chest felt tight and my eyes were on the verge of bugging out, so I tried to mimic Doc and take long, steady breaths. The smell of honeybuns still lingered this close to the couch, as well as Doc’s cologne. Together, they made my mouth water and remember happier times filled with all kinds of sugar.
“Medium, listen to my words carefully as I lead you along,” Prudence said to Doc. “If you veer from my instructions even slightly during this process, we might not be able to rein you back in after we are finished here.”
“What do you mean, ‘might not’?” I said to her while frowning at Cooper in the mirror. “This is too dangerous.” To the tall medium with his feet hanging off the end of the couch, I said, “Forget it, Doc. We’ll find another way.”
I reached toward him.
Zelda’s hand clamped onto my forearm, her fingernails biting into my skin, her grip bruising.
I looked over. Her white eyes were inches from my face, her lips pulled back in a fierce snarl. “Do not touch him until he is ready, Scharfrichter, or you might lose him for good. Do you understand?”
“Yes. Okay.” I pulled back. When she released her hold on me, there were half-moon fingernail marks dug deep into my skin. Two were bleeding a little.
Criminy, Prudence was intense.
“Are you ready, Medium?”
I waited for Doc to nod or reply, but he did neither.
“Then we shall begin,” she continued, settling back into the chair.
“He didn’t answer you,” I pointed out.
“Yes, he did, only he spoke on a level above your abilities.”
I sighed, keeping my fists to myself. But one of these days … Pow! Right in Prudence’s kisser.
Cooper’s reflection was grinning at me. He appeared to be enjoying Prudence’s repeated jabs.
“Let me get this straight,” I said to Prudence. “From here on out, only you will be able to communicate with Doc?” I didn’t like the sound of that one bit.
“Precisely. Now, if you will stop this filibustering, I will show the medium what he needs to see.”
“Yeah, Parker, zip it,” Cooper said, laughing under his breath.
While waiting for Prudence to continue, I pointed my finger at Cooper in our reflection and pretended to shoot him.
What exciting story are you working on next?
Currently, I’m working with my cowriter and husband, Sam Lucky, on the third book in the Deadwood Undertaker series called, “Can’t Ride Around It.” This series is a mix of western, supernatural suspense, and humor.
The Deadwood Undertaker series is a prequel series to my Deadwood Humorous Mystery series. It’s the same setting and world (Deadwood) when the Old West town was young. There are several crossover characters due to the supernatural elements.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started dabbling with writing books in my mid-twenties. However, it wasn’t until almost a decade and seven books later that I finally felt confident enough to go forth and publish Nearly Departed in Deadwood (Deadwood Humorous Mystery #1) in January 2011. Since then, I haven’t looked back and now have almost thirty stories published.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your workday like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Yes, I’m a full-time writer. My workday is a jumbled mix of writing, marketing, promoting, bookkeeping, emailing, and working with my publicist, personal assistant, sales assistants, and husband (who is also an author, as well as a formatter, graphic artist, and too many other things to remember). When I’m in the thick of writing a book, I aim for writing a minimum of 2000 words a day. This allows me to make solid progress toward the end of the book, which is usually around 125,000-135,000 words.
During the rest of the day, when I’m not enjoying time with my husband and kids, I’m wearing a multitude of hats since I’m an entrepreneur. When you’re an independent writer, you have to know how to run all parts of a publishing business. Every day, I spend at least an hour on different social media platforms interacting with other authors, readers, and other people in the business who offer opportunities to meet potential new fans. This business will eat up as much time as you will give it, so you have to set boundaries and make sure you focus on creating new products for the market as much as possible yet still have a life outside of publishing.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I find that I need to know the title of a book before I can start writing the first chapter. For some reason, the title is as important as the theme, premise, and plot for my right brain, so I will often work on coming up with the title first and then forming the overall plot and story around that title.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Well, at first I wanted to be an archaeologist like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Then I learned how much writing archaeologists have to do and decided that career wasn’t as sexy as it looked in the movie (which is ironic considering I now write for a living). After that, I thought being a camel jockey sounded exciting. It was about that time that I was reading a lot of romance novels where the heroes were these hunky sheiks and the heroines were fair English maidens. However, I read up on camels and learned that they liked to bite and they weren’t the best smelling animals, plus women weren’t allowed to be camel jockeys at the time. So, then I went from wanting to be a flight attendant (the travel appealed) to a lawyer (helping others in need in this way seemed like a good cause). As you can see, I was all over the place in interests even back then, which works well for me as an author because I am able to explore different careers based on characters I create on the page.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I write books to entertain. My goal from the start has been to help readers escape to a fun world where they can smile, laugh, and cringe along with my characters. What I find most rewarding in this writing business is when a reader contacts me to tell me how I was able to help him/her leave behind worries and stresses and heartache for a bit. Even better is hearing that I was able to spur a smile or even tears of laughter. So, if you want to escape regular life for a short time, join me in the pages of one of my books.
Thanks, Ann. All the best with your writing.