F.M. Meredith, a.k.a. Marilyn Meredith has penned and published nearly 30 novels to date, her latest being Angel Lost, which is part of her amazing Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. Ms. Meredith is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Internet chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and she is also on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America.
If you have not read Ms. Meredith’s work, you are truly missing out on an unforgettable and incredibly enjoyable reading experience.
First of all, could you tell us a bit about Angel Lost. What is the story about, who are the characters, etc.?
“A pervert threatens women joggers on the beach, a robber threatens wealthy homes on the bluff, and an angel watches over the townspeople from a downtown window. F. M. Meredith’s latest Rocky Bluff P. D. novel is a gentle human drama about loneliness and change, through which the reader is pulled, page after page, by an assortment of compelling criminal curiosities.” This is a blurb written by C. N. Nevets which covers Angel Lost well.
While eagerly anticipating her wedding, Officer Stacey Wilber sets a trap for the pervert, her husband to be, Detective Doug Milligan yearns for more time with Stacey, Sergeant Abel Navarro’s mother with Alzheimer’s wanders from home, a new officer on the RBPD wrestles with an unresolved problem, and an angel brings crowds to downtown Rocky Bluff.
Do you have a favorite excerpt from Angel Lost? Could you share that with us, please?
This is how the book begins:
“Officer Wilbur, are you listening?” Detective Doug Milligan fixed his blue eyes on Stacey.
She squirmed in her seat and felt the heat rise up her neck to her cheeks. The honest answer was “no” because she’d been thinking about plans for their coming wedding, certainly not the topic being discussed at the shift change briefing. She quickly back-tracked to what she last remembered — the man who exposed himself to female joggers on the beach. Since she figured they might have gone onto another subject without her realizing, she decided to be honest. “Sorry.”
The others in the room stared at her. Doug’s partner, the nearly bald Frank Marshall had a bemused expression on his face. He unwrapped a stick of gum, folded it, and put it in his mouth. Chewing gum had replaced a smoking habit. He winked at her.
Stacey figured he guessed what she’d been thinking about. Having everyone speculating about her private life had been one of the reasons Stacey vowed never to date anyone on the Rocky Bluff P.D. — a vow she’d broken when she and Doug had been mutually attracted to one another.
Handsome Ryan Strickland, the public relations officer for Rocky Bluff P.D., reached over and patted her hand. “We know you have more important things on your mind with your wedding less than two weeks away — but since there’s a pervert who decided to make jogging on the beach an unpleasant experience for females, maybe you ought to pay attention, since it does fall under your job description.”
Shrugging and grinning, Stacey said, “What can I say? You’re absolutely right, my mind was elsewhere. Sorry. I’m listening now, but I did hear most of it.” She absently caressed the tear drop diamond in her engagement ring.
The group around her murmured and she heard a few chuckles. In attendance besides Doug, Frank and Ryan, were most of the patrol officers on the daytime shift, including Gordon Butler. Sergeant Abel Navarro and the men who worked the evening hours were still there too.
Stacey was thankful Chief McKenzie was absent. He might regret making her head of the Vice team — a team that so far consisted only of her.
“We’ve had our third complaint in the last two weeks about a man on the beach exposing himself to unsuspecting female joggers.” Doug glanced at the notes on his desk. “It’s probable that the same thing has happened to others, but they haven’t bothered to report it.”
He looked so much younger since he’d shaved his mustache. Stacey remembered when she first came on the department almost every officer had a mustache; now most were clean-shaven. Without the mustache, Doug’s dimples were even more prominent. She shook her head, time to pay attention and stop admiring her future husband.
What do you want readers to take away from reading Angel Lost?
With any of my books, I want them to enjoy the time they’ve spent with the officers and the families of Rocky Bluff.
What was the most fun about writing Angel Lost?
I love spending time with the officers and families who inhabit Rocky Bluff. I want to know what’s going to happen to them next, that’s why I keep writing about them.
What was the hardest part about writing Angel Lost?
With any book, the hardest part is finding the time to write. So much time has to be spent on promotion these days if an author expects to reach readers.
What kind of research did you do for Angel Lost?
I’m fortunate in that I have a lot of friends in law enforcement who can help me with my research as far as the police work is concerned. However, I am writing fiction about a fictional police department in a fictional small town. As for the angel in the window, we had one for about three weeks in a nearby town and I knew I had to include the phenomena in a book.
Could you please tell us about your writing process?
I try to write everyday except Sunday. I begin by collecting ideas and characters. I don’t do much in the way of outlining though I do write a lot of notes about what I think should happen. (Sometimes the characters take over though and things don’t work out the way I thought they might.)
Do you ever put yourself within your characters?
I try to look out through the eyes of whoever the point-of-view character might be. I want to be able to convey all that the character is seeing, experiencing, feeling (touch and emotion), smelling, tasting and hearing.
Do you have any particular habits that you take part in while writing? By that I mean certain music you like to listen to, foods you like to eat, environment that helps you write better, etc.
I never play music. I almost always write in my office at my PC. I love to drink Chai tea latte when I’m working.
Where do you get your ideas and inspirations?
Ideas come from everywhere: things that happen where I live, newspaper articles, things I read on the Internet, something someone tells me, something I see, and even dreams.
How did you decide you wanted to be a writer? Was there any authors or books that made you think “Wow, that’s what I want to do — craft stories of my own for others to read”?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid — or maybe I ought to say I’ve been writing since I was kid. I wrote stories, articles for my own magazine, plays for the neighborhood kids to perform. I loved reading and I think every book pushed me onward to being a writer.
What makes you take that leap from “wanting” to be a writer, as opposed to “becoming” a writer? Many talk of being a writer and dip their toes in, but it seems there is often a sort of “push” to bring one over that wall.
Frankly, I think it’s better if you don’t talk about being a writer or the book you plan to write — save that for after the book is published and you’re giving talks to groups — what you should do is plant your fanny firmly in the chair and write, write, write.
How do you come up with the names of your characters? It almost seems as though, as an author, you have the continuous fun of naming children!
I collect names. If I attend a graduation I keep the program. If I hear a particular name I like, I’ll add it to my collection. I don’t use a real first name and last name together except if someone’s won a contest to actually have his or her name in one of my books. Giving a character the perfect name is important.
Were you an avid reader as a child? If so, what were some of your favorite books?
Oh yes, I’ve always read. My favorite present was a book. When I went to the library I always checked out books. Of course I loved Nancy Drew and all the Little House on the Prairie series as well as Little Women.
If you had to summarize your life and give it a book title, what would that title be?
Oh, my goodness, that’s a tough one. Maybe A Woman of Perseverance. If I had not had perseverance I would have given up trying to get published after three of four rejections. In fact, I received nearly 30 rejections before my first book was accepted and I got plenty more rejections after that.
What are you working on right now? Could you give us a taste/teaser (aka excerpt) from your current WIP?
I’m editing the next book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series called No Bells. This one features Officer Gordon Butler who readers of the series know that nothing seems to go right for him. Here’s the first scene:
Gordon Butler awoke to the blues’ riff that signaled a call coming in from his girlfriend, Benay Weiss. He squinted at his digital clock. 5:15 a.m.
Tuesday, his day off.
Yawning, he flipped open the phone. Before he could say anything, Benay sobbed, “Geri is missing.”
He sat up. “What?”
“My best friend, Geri Rowe. She disappeared.”
“How do you know?”
Benay sounded near hysterics.
“Her husband just called to find out if she might be here with me. She isn’t.”
“Did they have a fight?”
“He just said she didn’t come home last night.”
Gordon switched into police mode. “You two are so close. Did she say anything about marital problems?”
“Nothing new. Gordon, I’m so scared for her.”
“Has her husband reported her missing?”
“I don’t think so. He was going to call her relatives next to see if they’d heard from her.”
“He should make a report. Nothing will be done until she’s gone for 24 hours. They’ll want to make sure she didn’t just leave on her own.”
“She wouldn’t have done that without telling me. Gordon, we share everything. We’ve been friends since high school. I was her maid-of-honor at her wedding.”
“Do you want me to come over?”
She didn’t answer for a long while. “No. Philip said he’d call me back in a little while.”
“I’ve got the day off. I could spend it with you.”
“No. I have to work. I’m so worried about Geri. I’ll call you if I find out anything.”
“Chances are she’s okay.”
“I hope so.” She hung up.
What are you reading right now?
Water for Elephants on my Kindle.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I have lots: J A Jance, Wm. Kent Krueger, James Lee Burke, and many small press authors like Sue McGinty, MM Gornell, Victoria Heckman, and more.
If you could have lunch and chat with any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I love to have lunch and visit with authors, but I also get the chance to do it a lot. I also love having lunch and visiting with people who have read my books.
What do you hope to accomplish within the next five years?
Just keep on doing what I’m doing. Who knows what will happen in five years.
Is there anything that you would like to add? That you would like readers to know about you or your writing?
I just hope people will read Angel Lost and let me know how they liked it.
Where can readers get in touch with you? Twitter, Blog, Facebook, etc?