Kindred Spirits is part of the Tempe Crabtree Series, and Tempe is a deputy in Bear Creek, who is part Native American and married to a Christian minister Hutch Hutchinson. Her police counterparts in Dennison don't seem to take her seriously, even though she takes care of business in Bear Creek and beyond.
The main case in this mystery is the death of Vanessa Ainsworth, formerly the wife of Acton Ainsworth, a major furniture shop owner and philanthropist. While a wildfire rages in Bear Creek, displacing many residents, Deputy Crabtree and firemen discover a body--Vanessa Ainsworth--after having contained much of the fire. Crabtree is on the case even when her legal counterparts push her to the sidelines. She's quickly sent to speak with Vanessa's family and friends in Crescent City, which is when the real twists and turns begin. You'll meet some intriguing characters along the way, including my personal favorite, the trench coat, VW bus driving Lanny Hargrove.
The twists and turns in this novel will keep you guessing most of the way, but even if you figure out who the killer is before Tempe and the other detectives do, the way Meredith meshes in Tempe's troubled marriage and her questions about her heritage will keep you interested. What worked best for me about this novel is the evolution of Hutch from the beginning to the end; he grows even more compassionate and grows to understand the importance of Tempe's drive to find the truth. He also learns to open his heart to issues and situations he normally would disapprove of, fear, and dismiss. Tempe is easy to love and her drive to discover the truth is addicting.
I'd like to thank Marilyn Meredith for taking the time to answer a few questions about her writing process, and to thank Cheryl at Pump up Your Book Promotion for sending Kindred Spirits and putting me in contact with Marilyn Meredith. Without further ado, here's Marilyn:
1. Was there a great deal of research involved in terms of the Tolowa and the other Indian tribes and the tinges of discrimination found in the novel?
The book came about because I met a Tolowa woman four years ago when I was giving a workshop at a writers conference in Crescent City. We spent a couple of hours together before a booksigning event held in the Gushu Galleria--a real place that's in the book.
In merely a few minutes as she told me about herself, her life as an Indian, some of the history of the Tolowa and a few legends, I knew I had to write a book that included some of this information. My first thought was Tempe has to meet a woman like her.
I grew up in California and never heard anything about the Indians like I was hearing from her. However, I do live quite near our local reservation, have met quite a few Yokuts, and had researched their history so was well aware of the discrimination and prejudice the Indians have faced.
I also did more research about the Tolowa as I was writing, but Junie Mattice, the Tolowa woman in Crescent City was my major resource for Kindred Spirits.
2. What character do you most identify with and why?
I don't identify with any of the characters in the way that you mean. As I'm writing, I get inside the head of whoever I'm writing about. I know Tempe Crabtree better than I know anyone in my family because I know how she thinks. Tempe Crabtree lives inside my head whether I'm writing about her or not.
I've lived for a long, long time, had many experiences--good and bad--and I do draw on them as well as the emotions that go along with them.
3. Could you explain the significance of your title, Kindred Spirits, in terms of the plot, characters, or themes in the novel?
Kindred Spirits just seemed to be the perfect title. Some titles reveal themselves almost immediately as this one did. I recognized Junie as a kindred spirit not long after we began talking to each other. We kept in contact via email through the years and I told her what I was writing and she answered questions I had. The book launch was held in Crescent City and she signed books right along with me. It was a special time for both of us.
In the book, Tempe realizes she is a kindred spirit to the two Tolowa women in the Crescent City part of the story. And then, I also thought of the ghost of the murdered woman as being another kindred spirit. There are several books with the same title, which I knew, but Kindred Spirits was definitely my only choice.
4. Do you have a set writing routine? Do you get up early and start writing or do you write when the mood hits?
When I am working on a book (which is nearly always) I try to work on it at least three or four hours a day--and mornings are best--unless I'm on a roll, then I might just keep plugging away.
5. Do you have any advice for writers just starting out?
Learn the writing craft by going to writers conferences, reading books on writing, reading the kind of books you hope to write, then write, write, write.
6. What are your favorite rewards for reaching your writing goals and why?
I always feel terrific once I've actually finished a book, had it edited and send it off to a publisher. Of course then it means I have to get busy on the promotion.
7. Are you working on any other projects, and if so would you care to tantalize my readers with a few hints?
My next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery is scheduled to come out a year from now. It's titled “Dispel the Mist.” Tempe has an encounter with the Hairy Man, who is similar to Big Foot. I loved writing that book.
Want to win a copy of the latest Tempe Crabtree novel, Wingbeat, which is a book about a hidden marijuana farm and the murder of a long lost granddaughter that keep Tempe busy, while her husband has troubles of his own--when the description of a man who exposes himself to school children sounds just like Hutch.
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