I’m thrilled to tell you about a new series – The Kate Fox Mystery Series – by author Shannon Baker that has been called Longmire meets The Good Wife, featuring a female sheriff in rural Nebraska.
STRIPPED BARE, the first installment in the new series was released this week by Forge. Shannon is joining us today to talk about her new series.
Just when everything seems about perfect, someone leaves the barn door open and all hell breaks loose. Kate Fox thought she had it all until a shattering phone calls hits like a January blizzard. A local rancher is murdered and her husband, the sheriff, is shot. When her husband is suspected of the murder, Kate vows to find the killer.
STRIPPED BARE is available through Amazon.
Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Shannon, who has graciously answered some questions about her new book. Welcome, Shannon.
Thank you, Mason, for hosting me on Thoughts in Progress. You’ve been such a supporter of my writing career and I really appreciate that!
What made you want to write STRIPPED BARE?
I’ve been thinking about writing a Nebraska Sandhills book for a long time. I lived there for 20 years, always an outsider, and left because my husband had an affair and didn’t seem inclined to give it up. The Sandhills is a unique place, in many ways still the old west. But I didn’t want to go back there while I felt bitter (and I felt bitter as scorched coffee). Time really does heal, and finally the clouds lifted high enough I could write about it with humor. For instance, I can have Kate have a cheating husband and not kill him, and actually give him some admirable qualities.
Tell us about Kate Fox, the star of your new series:
Kate Fox, the star of Stripped Bare, is someone I’d really like to hang out with. While she’s got some problems to deal with, a cheating husband for one (I don’t know where I get my ideas) she’s got a healthy sense of herself. She’s confident, even though she’s not sure about her future, and she’s not afraid to take action. She’s a combination of a team player—she’s in the middle of eight brothers and sisters—but craves her independence. And she’s got a sense of humor, which saves her.
It took me nearly a decade since I left the Nebraska Sandhills to be able to laugh about it all. If I’d written Kate any earlier, she’d be laced with bitterness. I’m not a big country music fan, but I always think about the Rascal Flatts song Bless the Broken Road. I thought it was a love song but now I think it’s a faith song. Anyway, I like the chorus and the idea that our experiences, good and bad, bring us to the people we are now. And when the time is ripe, bring us the characters that tell us their stories.
Since STRIPPED BARE is set in the Nebraska Sandhills, which was your home for a while. Did setting your novel in a familiar landscape mean that you didn’t have to do much research?
Luckily, I have dear friends there who can fill me in on details I’ve forgotten or tip me about crazy goings on since I left. But I’m not in law enforcement so all that is research. The county sheriff where I lived is a great friend of mine and he’s on speed dial, so that helps. But here’s something that shocked me about Nebraska. Turns out, you don’t have to have any qualifications to be elected county sheriff. None. Zip. After election, you have 12 months to complete and pass an 8-week training at the police academy and until you do, you can’t perform anything you aren’t certified to do. Not even a traffic stop. So the state patrol and adjoining county sheriffs take care of official business in your county. Sounds like a criminal free-for-all, to me.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I wasn’t one of those people who always knew I wanted to be a writer. I’ve been a reader my whole life, though. My fondest childhood memories are afternoon naps with my mother after my older brother and sister were in school. She’d read a chapter of Winne-the-Pooh and we’d go to sleep. I should have paid attention to the good grades I earned in anything that required writing or that I always told myself stories.
It wasn’t until I lived on an isolated ranch, raising kids, and pretty much having someone else plan my time, that I found release in writing. Then I was hooked. It took a long time and much learning and effort from those first words to writing a viable book. But what else was I going to do? I hate needlepoint.
What is the hardest/easiest part of writing a mystery novel?
For me, the hardest part of writing a good mystery is keeping the reader guessing the whole way through. There are a ton of seasoned, savvy mystery readers and fooling them is tricky. Sometimes, you just can’t. They’re smart enough to catch the red herrings and McGuffins and see through all the ploys. So you have to write great enough characters, action, and setting to keep them entertained, even if you can’t mislead them.
I like writing, what my husband calls, kitchen scenes. These are where the characters interact and have “relationships.” Often, they’re hanging out in a kitchen or bar and not much is happening except conversation and conflict. Thankfully, my helpful husband alerts me to those “boring” spots… mostly by the sound of his snoring.
What do readers have to look forward to your upcoming novel, STRIPPED BARE?
Stripped Bare is set in a part of the country most people aren’t familiar with—I know that because the population density is .95 per square mile. I lived in the Nebraska Sandhills for 20 years and have a real love/hate relationship with it, like you would an ex-spouse, which I also happen to have out there.
Kate Fox is, what Kirkus calls, a “ballsy heroine.” (I love that!) She doesn’t go looking for trouble but if someone is threatened, she doesn’t back down. She’s smack in the middle of a bushelful of interfering brothers and sisters who all think they know how she ought to manage her life.
Because I think life can be pretty funny, I tried to add humor, as well as conflict and, of course, crime and murder.
Shannon, thanks so much for visiting with us today and sharing this background on STIPPED BARE. The tidbit about who can run for sheriff in Nebraska is surprising.
Now for those who aren’t familiar with Shannon, here’s a bit of background on her.
|Author Shannon Baker|
Shannon also writes the Nora Abbott Mystery Series (Midnight Ink), which features Hopi Indians. Shannon was voted Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2104 Writer of the Year.
For more information on Shannon and her writing, visit her website.
Thanks for stopping by today during Shannon’s visit. Do you like reading mysteries set in small towns? What are your thoughts on a female sheriff?