Monday, December 4, 2017

Murder on the Lake of Fire {+ Giveaway}

Murder on the Lake of Fire
Mikel J. Wilson

(Mourning Dove Mysteries, #1)
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: December 1st 2017
Genres: LGBTQ+, Mystery, Romance

At twenty-three and with a notorious case under his belt, Emory Rome has already garnered fame as a talented special agent for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. His career is leapfrogging over his colleagues, but the jumping stops when he’s assigned a case he fought to avoid – to investigate an eerie murder in the Smoky Mountain hometown he had abandoned. This mysterious case of a dead teen ice-skater once destined for the pros is just the beginning. In a small town bursting with envious friends and foes, Rome’s own secrets lie just below the surface. The rush to find the murderer before he strikes again pits Rome against artful private investigator, Jeff Woodard. The PI is handsome and smart, seducing Rome and forcing him to confront childhood demons, but Woodard has secrets of his own. He might just be the killer Rome is seeking.

The author has graciously answered a question about his writing for me. Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Mikel as he shared his thoughts. Welcome, Mikel.

Your story is set in the Great Smoky Mountains. How did you go about doing research for your story and setting?

Murder on the Lake of Fire is set in the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee. I’ve lived in California since I was 19, so setting my book more than 2,000 miles away presented a challenge. I couldn’t just look out my window or take a walk to inspire my descriptions. How would I convince my readers that my characters were actually interacting with the setting if I couldn’t describe it accurately? If you get one detail wrong with the setting in your book, you risk losing the reader’s trust in your ability to tell a story. To keep that trust intact, I used a combination of techniques for ensuring my setting’s accuracy: memory, research and experience (as a verb, not a noun).

I did grow up in Tennessee, and I visited the Smoky Mountains a handful of times, but I was not familiar enough with the area to write convincingly about it just from memory. Even if I had a photographic memory, much could’ve changed over the years to make my description obsolete. After writing down all the sensory details I could remember about the Smoky Mountains and Knoxville, the secondary location in the book, I researched the setting online.

I looked at countless pictures and videos, and I used Google Earth to virtually roam the streets. I read about the area’s demographics and history because having a character remark about an endemic feature, or weaving it into the story, can add some nice depth to your setting. I also realized I needed to research the region’s flora and fauna. I wrote coyotes into one scene, but long after I left that passage behind, I wondered, “Are there coyotes in the Smoky Mountains?” Thankfully, there are, but imagine if I had written that and there weren’t!

To learn what people were actually doing in the area I read local news and community calendar postings. Because this book is the first in a series, I want to keep abreast of current events in the area, so I also subscribed to the Visit Knoxville newsletter and added the Smoky Mountains, Knoxville and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to my Google news feed.

Online research can get you pretty close to familiar with your setting, but I don’t think anything can replace actually experiencing it. I made a special trip to Knoxville and stayed a few days in the Smoky Mountains, and I took gigs of pictures and a pad full of notes about sensory data and specific locations my characters might visit. I even found the perfect spot for Mourning Dove Investigations, the PI firm in the book.

I realize traveling to wherever a book is set is not always an option, but I do believe it helps – walking the streets the characters will walk, taking in the sounds and smells, and finding places they might frequent. The more familiar an author is with a setting, the better he can describe it and the more convinced readers will be that the characters are really there.

Mikel, thanks for this insight into your book. The Smoky Mountains are a beautiful area and would be an amazing place to live.

Mystery and science fiction author Mikel J. Wilson received widespread critical praise for his debut novel, Sedona: The Lost Vortex, a science fiction book based on the Northern Arizona town’s legends of energy vortexes and dimensional travel. Wilson now draws on his Southern roots for the Mourning Dove Mysteries, a series of novels featuring bizarre murders in the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee. 

Murder on the Lake of Fire, the first novel in the Mourning Dove Mysteries series, will be available December 1, 2017.


  1. Definitely intriguing.
    And yes, walking the streets gives a perspective which cannot be gathered any other way.

  2. congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

  3. Google Earth is an amazing tool! But, like you, I took a trip to Memphis to walk it when I realized an app wouldn't be enough. Sounds like a great book!

  4. This sounds like a fast-paced, involving mystery. Thanks for sharing, Mason.

  5. That's the great thing about the Internet - it can help you go anywhere.
    Congratulations on the release, Mikel.

  6. Thanks for being on the tour! :)

  7. I love to read mysteries! This sounds great!

  8. An intriguing mystery with a great setting.

  9. Google Earth is a great resource. I've been to many of the cities in my books but being able to see the actual layout of the city really helped.

  10. Great advice on getting the setting. Great premise for the book. (I like the return home/secret books.) Congrats and best of luck.

  11. The book is getting rave reviews on Goodreads and on Amazon - and it made Amazon's Top 10 on Fri/Sat in the Private Investigator Mysteries category...pretty cool.


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