Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Author Sam Berretti: The Ensemble

BlackRose-Cover330x511-72dpiIt’s always a pleasure when I get to welcome an author back to Thoughts in Progress. Today I’m delighted to see author Sam Berretti returning to talk about his latest release, THE BLACK ROSE, the first installment in his new O’Brien’s Law Mystery series.

Here’s a synopsis of THE BLACK ROSE, an intriguing story:

       “What do you want to be when you grow up, Meredith?” A dead attorney had not been her answer, she was pretty darn sure.
        After years of experience in the courtroom, Assistant State Attorney Meredith O’Brien finds herself the target of street thugs and deep into uncovering the truth about a serial rapist and killer intent on taunting the police and her. What was the meaning of the black rose? After years of being alone she also finds herself being pursued by her ex-boyfriend detective and a mysterious Atlanta billionaire, not to mention a dog with the intelligence of a four year old. Both of the men are infuriating, persistent and intent on getting into her life, business and more personal places.
        Surrounded by a cast of unpredictable characters including co-workers, relatives, psychics and bounty hunters, she finds her entire life has gone crazily out of control. Strong willed, sharp-tongued and explosive, she discovers the media is quick to paint a target on her back. Dodging bullets and physically fighting bad guys was not what Meredith envisioned when she went to law school or took her job in the small, picturesque Florida city of Gainesville. Dying prematurely was also not what she had envisioned.
        This cozy romantic action thriller is packed with suspense, adventure, comedy and women sleuths fighting crime. This is a detective story with heart and a touch of the paranormal, as Meredith O’Brien applies her brand of the law, up close and very personally. A fine blend of romance and mystery, it follows the drama as police are confronted with crimes against the community and those that enforce the law.
        If Meredith survives the attacks on her, she still has to deal with her meddling friends and family pushing romance and impossible relationships on her. What’s a girl to do?

Please join me in giving Sam a warm welcome as he talks about ‘The Ensemble.’

After finishing my first book, DOUBLE MAYHEM, A Seekers Mystery, I decided to start a second mystery series that would be a little cozier. Heavy violence and graphic sex were left offstage so to speak with a little more humor thrown in. I’d learned a lot while writing my first published novel, so I realized it was important to have a strong central character, but just as important to surround her with a unique supporting cast. 

I’d decided to write about an assistant state attorney. In part because my wife is a lawyer, so I had my expert advisor on board, and my writer’s group includes a policeman. What you read in the book is procedurally accurate even if it is fiction. I put a lot of thought into building the list of characters, because they are the players that were to pull her in the direction she went; the girlfriend, the old boyfriend, the mysterious Atlanta billionaire, the crazy relatives, and the office workers, cops, lawyers and judges. Those were to be the regulars, the family of characters that I could introduce and perhaps develop in later books. 

While I outlined all of this I realized there was something missing. Then my dog came in to beg for his daily walk. Bingo. There had to be a dog. A special dog. In DOUBLE MAYHEM I had a cat. Personally, I’ve almost always had cats and dogs around. To me they are a natural part of the society, a part that helps to bring out the human side of us, just like kids and babies. Since I’ve watched them a lot, I find writing about them a pleasure.

With the family of characters sketched out and a general plot arc in mind I began to write. The way I write is almost an explorative process. I put characters together and have them begin to talk and react. What would a girlfriend with a certain kind of personality do or say? Then how would Meredith, the main character, respond? What would they logically have to do to solve a presented problem? 

Sometimes I was surprised at where the dialogue took me and what avenues it forced me into. I might have vaguely outlined what I wanted them to do as I started a chapter, but then I would realize real people wouldn’t do that. Real people would do this other, unexpected thing because they are flawed, or manipulative, or angry. 

The characters I write are not simple, one-dimensional or always likable. They are driven and unique and that is the key to having a plot that races and twists and surprises. They are driven and unique and that is the reason they become real to people. I’ve had readers tell me my books make them laugh and cry and stay up at night trying to finish. As a writer, I can’t think of a more wonderful compliment. 

Sam, thanks for joining us and sharing this look at how the elements come together. I like the aspect of a dog (or cat) being included because animals are very much a part of our lives. Having the characters deal with pets makes them more realistic.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Sam, here’s a bit of background on him.
Sam Berretti was born and raised in the High Plains city of Lubbock, Texas. Cotton was king and oil wells and cattle were always close by. The land was as flat as his mother’s tattered ironing board and Spring was always ushered in with dust storms, tumble weeds and tornadoes. 

Sam moved to Florida to attend the University of Florida, met a woman who he says was gracious enough to allow him to marry her and raised two amazing children. Sam is an avid naturalist and photographer, as well as an author. Although writing started at an early age and took many forms, mystery fiction has always been a favorite.

For more on Sam and his writing, visit his website and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Thanks for stopping by today during Sam’s visit. Do you like it when characters have pets that interfere in their daily life, much like our own pets do? Do you like have a family of characters surrounding the protagonist so that you can learn more about them as a series continues?

*This post contains affiliate links.


  1. Sam, thanks again for visiting with us. I enjoyed learning how the elements come together for you. Wishing you much success.

  2. Congratulations on your second book, Sam. Pets do bring out the human side of us. I'm leery when I meet someone who doesn't like animals.

  3. Mason - Thanks for hosting Sam.

    Sam - I think 'character families' really add much to a cosy series. I wish you much success.

  4. I love that your doggie inspired you.

  5. This book sounds so exciting - not what I'd normally think of as 'cozy" at all. Awesome blurb! Wishing Sam much success. :)

  6. I think pets interfering with life are realistic, and I think it's great to have them included in stories. Congratulations to Sam! (I've finally been able to get on your blog. I've had a lot of trouble over the past couple of weeks!)


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.