This is Jeff’s first book and he’s another wonderful authors with Astraea Press.
Very pleased to have a tryst at Murders and Mysteries! This is the perfect landing zone because my new novel has both murder and mystery. Plus … romance! Thanks to Lindsay Downs for inviting me … to chat about my recent release, “The Overnighter’s Secrets”, published May 24 by Astraea Press.
I also enjoy being here with Lindsay because of her love for canines … especially collies. While I’ve never had a collie, we’ve almost always had at least one dog … and they’ve been part of the family. I’ve always wondered what dogs would ‘say’ if they could write — and Lindsay’s books seem as close as we might ever come to a canine author.
The inspiration for this story came from examining the varied contents of an antique suitcase — which my friend acquired (some 16 years ago) from dumpster divers in Calif.
We were able to connect a diary, a family photo album, numerous Vaudeville programs, and photos from silent movie sets … all to one person — Lizette Thorne. Internet research revealed that she was an actress in nearly four dozen silent movies and spent one year (1916) in the same studio as Charlie Chaplin. By the time I’d written some 77,000 words in my first draft, my earliest research finally put me in contact with the granddaughter of that actress!
So how did an actual silent movie actress (and her belongings) inspire the fictional plot and characters of a contemporary novel of romantic suspense? This excerpt and blurb will give you an idea, but you’ll need to invest $3 in an electronic copy to really appreciate it!
[From Chapter 24]
Suddenly Beth became extremely self-conscious. How do I look? She briefly wished she’d worn a skirt today. No, slacks were better. She fiddled with her hair without any improvement. She cupped her hand and exhaled. Ugh…need a breath mint!
“Well, too late now.” Beth clenched her jaw. “This is me, three years later. Shane can like it or lump it.”
And, when she reached the middle block of Netterville Street…there he was!
* * *
Beth exited her car and walked around to the unfamiliar Harley. Her fingers trailed over the handlebars and then traced the seat. Its tank was warm from the sun. She leaned over and sniffed the two-cylinder engine. Didn’t smell hot from running so it must have been there for a while. Bike was present…but where was its rider?
Then Beth saw a heavy leather boot on the shady side of the oak tree. Has to be Shane. She moved quietly around the other side. Shane was leaning against the rugged trunk…sound asleep. Snoring.
What a welcome, after three long years.
Her chest had been tight with apprehension on the way home and she’d worried when she hadn’t spotted Shane right away. But now that Beth saw him sleeping against her tree, she was reminded of the teddy bear again. Her throat swelled and she thought she was about to cry…but instead, she just breathed shallowly and looked him over.
Shane might have added a few pounds—hard to tell in that position. His hair was shorter and he’d dropped the Fu Manchu. Instead, he had about three days of uniform stubble. It was a good look for him. He truly did resemble the actor Sam Elliott, but a beefier version. His leather jacket was folded behind his back and long shirt sleeves were rolled up to his elbows. The deep tan on his muscled arms had lightened a bit. Maybe he didn’t ride as much anymore.
When Beth leaned closer to listen to his snore, it stopped suddenly.
“Bethany…hi.” His grin looked crooked. “Must’ve dozed off. Sorry.” He struggled to get up. Not being fully awake, he stumbled a bit.
Beth hurried to his side to steady him and Shane’s heavy arm draped over her shoulders. “Welcome to Verdeville.”
His face moved closer as though he might kiss her.
But Beth ducked under his arm and walked toward her front door. “When did you get in?”
“Late.” Shane was obviously confused. He collected his jacket and helmet from the base of the tree and followed her. His eyes took in the Dodge. “Your car still looks real good.”
She just nodded. Her Shadow got the compliment. I must look like last week’s garbage.
Shane stepped off the short walkway and examined her vehicle. His fingertips lightly stroked its front fender. Beth remembered that touch. And more. She was slightly jealous of her coupe.
When Beth left suddenly, it broke two hearts … but she’d had no choice. Shane, a rugged, ex-Airborne biker, handled it badly … but so had she. Three years later and 2000 miles away, she desperately needs her ex-lover’s protection from a violent menace with ‘bad history’ who’ll do anything to reclaim a mysterious suitcase Beth possesses.
Long before Shane acquired that overnighter, a silent movie actress kept secrets there … and now several lives are in jeopardy. An ambitious female state senate candidate hires a ruthless investigator to eliminate potential campaign problems like her dark family secret — a bizarre 1889 murder.
Is Beth’s terrifying ordeal simply because she unwittingly possesses the overnighter’s secrets? Or is it due to the meth-fueled dumpster-diver’s unfinished business?
Shane will likely return to California after he resolves this Tennessee situation … so Beth struggles to resist her reawakened feelings. But before she can sort out their renewed relationship … Beth is kidnapped! To rescue her, Shane enters an obvious trap in a dilapidated hotel. Only with Beth’s help can both survive the violent struggle against her kidnappers.
My background is in photo-journalism and editing. I served on active duty in the U.S. Air Force and active reserve in the AF Reserve and Army National Guard. I worked in librarianship for nearly 30 years before taking an early retirement and relocating to Southeast Kentucky. I’ve been writing since grade school, though novels only entered the picture a little over five years ago.
Though I’m previously published in non-fiction and poetry, my seventh completed fiction manuscript became my first novel to be released.
Possible tags: Lizette Thorne, actress, silent movies, The Overnighter’s Secrets, inspiration, overnighter, mementoes, Astraea Press, J.L. Salter,