What inspired you to write your first book? I write about what I know. Since I’ve lived in Miami for thirty-five years, it’s a natural for me to write about South Florida. The fact my husband has been a forensic expert for twenty-one years and worked on 30,000 cases influenced me as well. It means that I have a ready resource to ensure the police procedurals, the forensic science and quality assurance aspects are accurate.
Although the story bounced around in my head for fifteen years, I actually wrote Shadow Cay in three months on a 34-ft. Morgan Out Island Sailboat in the Bahamas in the Southern Exumas. Imagine 700 islands, like a string of beautiful gems to treasure. Imagine no interruptions, pristine water, white and pink sand beaches, uninhabited islets, dramatic ocean and bay views.
And the show stopper was Normans Cay. My research into its history led me to flash back two decades: A dramatic flying adventure, international intrigue, a forced crash landing, a brush with death, and a tropical island paradise with a seedy secret. Being in the islands and onsite, made it easy to transfer the sailing scenes we lived onto my laptop. Some of the water sequences are biographical, storm scenes, water spouts, sailing during an unexpected hurricane.
Another reason, I selected South Florida is because both Walt and I have extensive experiences in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, so it was a natural to slant the story and focus on the medical device industry. SHADOW CAY is a steamy suspense about murder, greed and corruption that takes place in the tropics between Miami and the Bahamas. The MDPD Crime Lab was inspiration for some parts. The book speaks to the challenges forensic professionals face every day.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? My biggest challenge is portraying the procedures of police-work. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. No crime lab in the world looks like the CSI ones, because there’s simply not the money for all those fancy machines. Even the Miami-Dade Crime Bureau which is well-funded (though could use more), doesn’t have everything, and there is a tremendous backlog to examine the evidence sent in. Consequently, nothing happens quickly, so when I’m explaining in a novel that DNA was found or that there’s a clue to be sent to the lab, I have to make sure the reader knows this isn’t going to come back in 45 minutes.
Readers are so familiar now with law enforcement, whether through news coverage or fictional portrays on television that crime writers do have to anticipate readers’ assumptions and find ways to surprise them.
I love writing, hate marketing and promotion! I love storytelling, writing passionately, creating word pictures, entertaining readers and building interest. What excites me is the burning drive to get something down the reader has to see.
Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? Oh my gosh, yes! It taught me the advantages of having a writing routine, the importance of avoiding distractions and being organized. It also taught me that post-publication marketing must be ongoing. The best only way to be discovered in that Amazon slush pile of millions of books is to climb the Amazon Bestseller List.
Do you intend to make writing a career? Absolutely, it is my career.
Have you developed a specific writing style? I know my settings like my hometown. The locations are always an integral part of my stories. I create word pictures to make the settings as believable and authentic as possible. Here’s how others describe my writing style.
“Her work,” says Bella Online Mystery Editor Edie Dykeman, “sets a strong pace from the start with riveting action and dialogue. The beautiful Bahamas background adds contrast to the frightening action and gritty texture of her story.”
Carol Hoyer of Readers Views says, “Readers and reviewers are raving it’s one of the best crime suspense novels in years.”
Naomi Blackburn, a top Amazon reviewers and Goodreads Administrator for the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Books” said, “I found myself putting aside other review copies I was working on, sneaking in time to read it, etc. Once I was able to sit down and finally dedicate time to read it, I read 400 pages in approximately 5 hours. The story flowed like liquid gold!”
What is your greatest strength as a writer? Without a doubt, channeling my muse and unfurling my imagination until I get what’s in my head on paper . . . that’s my favorite compulsion! It’s satisfying and always pleasing to paint a scene with words. I invoke the senses. All of them— sight and sound and smell and touch and taste—to make my world alive.
My second greatest thrill is harnessing that plot and sailing through the words. I even like trimming the flab, to keep the story flowing and focused on what really matters. If left to my natural instincts however, I’d probably never stop editing, which leads directly to my least favorite aspect of writing, it’s difficult for me to let go. I’m a perfectionist so I have to be careful not to overwork a story. That also means resisting urges to store my manuscript in a drawer where it’s easily retrievable so I can work on it for a few more months, rather than letting it fly.
Can you share a little of your current work with us? Madeleine Nesbitt lives a privileged, sheltered life on a pristine tropical island paradise until the young girl is hauled off the deck of a capsizing ferry. Sixty-two passengers drown, trapped under the hull. Madeleine survives but her innocence dies that day. Despite the odds, she’s resilient enough to put her life together. However, nine years later she realizes too late that catastrophe is only the beginning of the dangers that lurk ahead when another maritime disaster hits closer to home. Someone wants to make sure the Nesbitt family never makes it out of paradise alive. Here’s the trailer: http://leonabodie.com/watch-the-trailer_298.html
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Genre – Thriller / Suspense
Rating – R