Friday, December 9, 2016

Seldom Traveled & More

I’m always delighted to welcome author Marilyn Meredith back to Thoughts in Progress because it means she has a new book out in one of my favorite series. This time the book is in her Deputy Tempe Crabtree series and is entitled, SELDOM TRAVELED.

The tranquility of the mountain community of Bear Creek is disrupted by a runaway fugitive, a vicious murderer, and a raging forest fire. Deputy Tempe Crabtree is threatened by all three.

SELDOM TRAVELED is available to purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

With wildfires popping up all over the country in recent months, Marilyn joins us today to talk about how she came to write about wildfires in her book. Welcome, Marilyn.

Because of the ongoing drought in California, the state has been plagued with forest fires. When I began writing my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, we still had an occasional day of rain and hope for the drought to be over. I had no idea what was to come, but the more I wrote, the more I knew that there would be a forest fire in the mountains close to my fictional town of Bear Creek.

To make sure what I wrote was accurate, I consulted a friend of mine who was a volunteer firefighter and still is used on fires with his truck to get supplies. He helped me a lot. Here is an excerpt that includes part of a fire scene:

“You might find that more difficult than you think,” Tempe said. “We’ve got a situation.”
“Can’t be any worse than the one I’m in.”
“You’re wrong. I’m afraid it is much worse.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Haven’t you smelled the smoke?”
“I know there’s a forest fire, but it’s a long ways off.”
“Not far away at all.”
He shoved her. “Show me.”
She moved toward the front door and opened it. Things had changed in the short time she’d been inside the cabin. “Oh, dear God, we’re in big trouble.”
The fire had worsened considerably. Black smoke billowed up from the valley. The wind blew fiercely. The air felt hot against her face. Embers fell all around. She couldn’t see any flames, but it wouldn’t be long.
Delano let loose with a string of swear words. “We’re doomed.”
“Don’t give up yet. Let’s get in my truck and see if we can make it back to the main highway.” She galloped toward her vehicle.
“I’m right behind you. Don’t try any funny stuff. Remember, I’ve got your gun.”
She didn’t bother to answer, the smoke made breathing hard. Pulling open the driver’s door she hopped in.
Within seconds, Delano was beside her. “Get us out of here.”
She hoped that she could. She knew better than to drive too fast because of all the potholes in the road, but if they didn’t hurry they weren’t going to make it.
Maneuvering around the curves as fast as she thought safe wasn’t fast enough for Delano.
“Step on it.”
“I can’t go any faster. If we break down, we’ll be in a worse mess than we are now.” She eased around one curve and then the next.
When she came to the place where she thought the road started to straighten, she knew they couldn’t get through. She braked.
“What are you doing?”
“We aren’t going to make it. Not this way anyway. Take a look ahead.”
A wall of flames crossed the road. The treetops on either side blazed. Sparks flew high into the sky.
Tempe put the truck in reverse, going back the way they’d just come.
Delano gasped. “The whole mountain is on fire. We’re doomed.”

That’s just a taste of my story. A forest fire is frightening. The destruction and devastation it leaves in its path is horrifying. The fire at Lake Isabella left many homeless and took a few lives. In August we had a fire in our own mountain area, fortunately it was extinguished before it burned many acres for threatened any homes.

Some extra thoughts About Seldom Traveled

When I began writing this latest addition of Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s life, I had no idea that the plot would include a forest fire. I knew who would be the murder victim, had some ideas about the varied suspects—but really didn’t know who the guilty party would be.

I included the missing felon, because we had a similar case where the felon fled to our little town—and promptly disappeared. Not even the search dogs could find him. Nothing has ever appeared in the paper about him being found. (My theory is that a friend of his who lived in the area probably whisked him away in a vehicle.) My fictional version is very much a part of the plot.

Which brings me back to the forest fire—as the story took form, I knew that Tempe would be threatened by a fire. The book itself was finished and turned into the publisher long before all the real fires struck all over California.

Just thought these were some facts about Seldom Traveled your readers might find interesting. -- Marilyn

Marilyn, thanks for joining us today and explaining how parts of your story came to be. Wildfires have destroyed much in recent months.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Marilyn, here’s a little background on her.

Author Marilyn Meredith
Marilyn has had so many books published, she’s lost track of the count, but it’s getting near 40. She lives in a community similar to the fictional mountain town of Bear Creek, the big difference being that Bear Creek is a thousand feet higher in the mountains.

She is a member of Mystery Writers of American, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, and is a board member of Public Safety Writers of America.

For more on Marilyn and her writing, visit her website and blog, as well as connecting with her on Facebook and Twitter.

New Contest: 

Winners will be randomly picked from those leaving the most comments on the blog posts. Each winner can choose one of the earlier books in the series as either a print book or e-book.

Tomorrow Marilyn will be visiting

Thanks for stopping by today during Marilyn’s visit. Have you ever experienced a wildfire? Have you ever been involved in helping put out a fire?


  1. Congratulations Marilyn.
    Sadly wildfires (which we call bushfires) are a fact of life here. Death and destruction. Of humans, and of animals and their homes. And too often they are deliberately lit.

  2. Forest fires are indeed frightening. We get them here. Although scary to know a felon fled to your town and they never caught him.

  3. This really hits home for me, Mason, since I live in wildfire country. They're really frightening in real life, but they do provide a tense and believable context for a novel. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Oregon always had a ton of fires during the summer and my cousin battles some as a volunteer fireman in Washington.

  5. Congratulations, Marilyn! 40 published books is amazing. Here in the Western Cape of South Africa summers are so hot and dry, we always get wild fires. Of course, there's also plenty of fires caused because of a neglected lit cigarette bud.

    Hello Mason! I hope you are doing well.

  6. Ugh, fires are happenening everywhere right now... seriously one of my worst fears! :-( -


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