(A Berry Springs Novel)
Publication date: December 4th 2018
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Romance
Former Marine turned ballistics expert, Wesley Cross is known around town for two things, his rugged good-looks and cocky attitude—until he finds his ex-girlfriend lying in a puddle of blood in his basement. The scene screams setup, but the discovery of a rare gem and a puzzling autopsy suggests the murder goes much deeper than that. Wesley will do whatever it takes to clear his name, including calling in a notoriously headstrong—and sexy—scientist.
While most little girls were playing dress up, Gwyneth Reece was digging in the dirt collecting bugs. Now one of the top forensic entomologists in the country, Gwen reluctantly accepts a job from a pushy cowboy and travels to the small, Southern town of Berry Springs. Heavy storms are brewing, and when she’s forced to check into the creepiest hotel she’s ever seen, she instantly regrets her decision to help out the former Marine.
Following up on a tip, Wesley heads to the Half Moon Hotel but quickly realizes his visit was not by chance. The killer lured him there, and suddenly everyone from the uptight bellman to the wealthy couple just passing through town become suspect. Bodies begin to disappear, and Wesley knows the killer will do anything to get to him…. including hurting the woman who’s kept his head spinning since he first laid eyes on her.
Interview with Amanda McKinney
Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and what inspires you?
AM: I was born in a small, southern town that has more cows than people. Big trucks, American flags, cowboy hats, sweet tea—all the fantastic clichés. From a very early age, I loved two things: reading and the outdoors. For me, inspiration sparks when I’m in nature. There’s something about being out in the mountains, that can be magical and enchanting, but also dark, creepy, and extremely lonely—which makes one hell of a backdrop for a murder mystery series. Each book in the Berry Springs series is shaped around the outdoors—The Woods, The Lake, The Storm, The Fog. Throw in a few dead bodies, a sexy alpha male, and strong, independent female and the series was born!
What do you like to read in your free time?
AM: I’m a sucker for romantic suspense. I love the delicate mix of romance, intrigue, edge-of-your-seat suspense, mystery, and of course the grand finale of it all, the happily ever after ending! And let’s be honest, a swoon-worthy hero doesn’t hurt either. As a reader and a writer, pacing is very important to me. One of my favorite things about the genre is that the stories are fast-paced. Nothing pulls me out of a book more than slow pacing or that ever-dreaded lagging middle section. When I write a book, I focus on creating a page-turning experience and making the reader feel a mix of emotions—fear, anticipation, shock, lust, you name it. If he, or she, goes to bed thinking about my book, or stays up all night just to finish it, I’ve done my job. A few of my favorite romantic suspense authors that do this very well are Nora Roberts, Laura Griffin, Toni Anderson, Sandra Brown, Linda Howard, and Karen Rose.
Did you find it difficult to walk away from your career to become a writer?
AM: Absolutely. The decision to begin my writing career was the answer to a lot of soul-searching and prayers, to be honest. I’d always struggled with what I was meant to do professionally. My world was cubicles, PowerPoint presentations, quotas, and ass-kissing. I knew, deep down, that this was not my path. I wanted to be the person who said, “I love what I do so much that it doesn’t feel like work.” So, I kept sending positive energy out into the world, open-minded to what that job might be, and one day, the decades-long quest finally ended after I wrote the first few paragraphs of my first book (that was so terrible it never saw the light of day!). I fell in love instantly. I have absolutely no regrets.
Who or what would you say has influenced your writing style the most?
AM: Nora Roberts’ stories inspire me. She has a way with words that is a true gift. Her personal story inspires me as well. She had no writing experience or ties to the publishing world what-so-ever, but one day she decided to sit down and write a book, and today she is one of the most successful Romance authors in the world. She loved to write, and she made it happen. That’s awesome. I’m also inspired by Laura Griffin’s books. The forensic research and facts that she puts into her books is incredible. I learn a lot just from reading them.
Can you tell us more about your upcoming release The Fog?
AM: The Fog is a fast-paced, sexy, small-town murder mystery about two very different strangers—Wesley is a former black ops Marine turned cocky cowboy, and Gwen is a smart, independent forensic entomologist—who come together to solve a string of murders, not realizing they are about to engage in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a ruthless killer.
What type of scene(s) do you find the most difficult to write and why?
AM: Good question! For me, it’s the first few chapters of the book! This is when I establish the setting, characters, conflict, drop in a dead body, and set the sexual tension between my hero and heroine. There’s a lot to that! Once I hit the middle, it’s solving the mystery and enhancing the relationship, which I usually breeze through (and love).
If you could describe your main characters Wesley Cross and Gwyneth Reece in 3 sentences, what would they be?
AM: I don’t need three sentences for this! Wesley = sexy, strong, alpha, and ruthless. Gwen = smart, sassy, independent, and doesn’t take crap from anyone!
Where do you see this series going?
AM: Each book is a standalone love story and mystery (the location, Berry Springs, carries over), so the series will continue as long as readers keep reading!
What question do you wish someone would ask about you or your book? (then answer it 🙂 )
AM: When will your next book come out? J 2019 will be a big year for me. I’m planning to release the fifth Berry Springs book in the summer, along with more Black Rose Mysteries, and the introduction of an entirely new series, title TBD. The best way to stay up to date on new releases, enter in fun contests, and get tons of freebies is to sign up for my newsletter here.
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