Interview with mystery author Michael Devendorf

cover for deciduousToday’s special guest is mystery author Michael Devendorf and we’re chatting about his new women’s crime fiction, Deciduous.

Michael Devendorf aspires to surprise and provoke the reader by intertwining contrasting emotions within stories that defy strict categorization. In addition to writing, he is a passionate animal welfare advocate. He and his family split their time between Dallas, Texas, and northern Wisconsin.

Welcome, Michael. Please tell us about your current release.
Deciduous is about a mother’s love and a mother’s strength. Sienna loses two children within 10 months of each other. It’s almost too horrible to be true. When a social media trial by fire ignites around her, Sienna is left questioning whether she herself is guilty of harming them as she struggles to wrap her mind around the gravity of the events. But were these accidents or something more…The perspective shifts between the parents, Sienna and Jordan, and their neighbor Yvonne all wondering if paranormal events are at play or not. Nightmares plague Sienna, but maybe it’s the mother’s grief for her children that is coloring her perspective. While some characters are convinced of Sienna’s guilt, Jordan seems to be her rock. Despite a somewhat rocky marriage, he supportive of her. When they’ve lost everything, the stakes are raised again with a shocking twist. Dark secrets lurk in the trees, but they aren’t what you think.

What inspired you to write this book?
The idea of a mother-tree inspired the story. It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon often called a hub tree, where one mature, healthy tree nurtures younger trees, struggling saplings in the vicinity through their interconnected root system. The concept fascinated me. Trees interacting with each other and communicating with each other. There is so much happening that we don’t fully understand but can prove happens. I discovered a meadow in some remote woods, deep in the forest. There in the center was a massive evergreen tree. I’m sure it was a Norway Spruce. It’s one of those trees that looks like a Christmas Tree on steroids. A Christmas Tree you could climb. Over a hundred feet high and forty feet or more wide. It stood there all alone as though something held the other trees at bay. This lone, majestic tree seemed to own the meadow, ringed with maples, aspen, oak and pine in the distance. At first, the sight had an eerie feel, but the more I thought about the tree, and thought about how a tree might nurture other trees with deep interconnected roots, the concept of a “mother-tree,”took hold in my mind. Then Sienna came to me. I saw her sitting all alone in the first pew of a church with a child-sized casket nearby. I blended the grieving mother all on her own with the isolated mother-tree into the suspense-mystery, Deciduous.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently working on my third novel titled Treasure. This story is told from the perspective of a single mother. We experience aspects of her you and adulthood. She has two daughters, but one is missing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always been an avid reader, at times reading several books a week. I tried writing my first novel in 1996, but life and work got in the way derailing my progress. The same happened in 1999 when I started another novel. Not long after, my career took over. I was fortunate enough to spend nearly 20 years helping expand a small local business into a national brand with hundreds of locations and thousands of employees. In 2016, I made a change in my life and decided to focus on writing. No excuses. When I finished my first novel, in 2017, I knew I had something special and the accomplishment gave me the confidence to embrace the fact that I am a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
From 2016 to 2020 I wrote full-time. I now write part time after investing in a new business with old business partners. Writing is all consuming. I go to bed thinking about them, wake up at night thinking about them, I dream about them and get up in the morning thinking about them. Usually I remain in bed for 30 minutes or so and drink water…let the pups wake up while I make notes. I then have breakfast and usually around 9:30 or so, exercise for the day. That usually takes about an hour, but I spend that time thinking about the storyline, where the plot is and where it’s going. I work it out in my head so that when I sit down to write usually around noon or a little later, I have the next scene. Or at least the kernel of it. I do usually take a little time re-reading what I wrote the prior day, getting back into the action, and then run with it. I will sometimes write until dinner time, so several hours, all afternoon is common. Almost like a job. But one I love. I might spend the evening contemplating the story, sometimes talking over aspects with my husband. I then wake the next day and do it again.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love writing about strong women. I’ve been surrounded by them all my life. All three of my recent books have been about women, written from their perspective. As a gay man, women have been my best friends and they’ve included me in some of the most important moments in their lives. I’ve listened to them. I’ve paid and attention and I’ve learned from women.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer. The notion that a person could craft an entire story and communicate it to the world was my dream.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I have many more stories to share. I can’t wait for people to read them!

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Thanks for being here today, Michael.

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