Gayle is one of my author friends from back East, and a fantastic writer. I'll never forget the day she brought her RITA award to our monthly meeting so we all could see it and hold it and dream that one day WE might be the one with a RITA of our own. :)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gayle Roper has been writing mystery and romantic suspense novels for more than thirty years and is the author of over forty-five books. She is a three-time Christy Award finalist, the winner of three Holt Medallions, and the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times magazine. Her novel Autumn Dreams won Romance Writers of America's RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance. She and her husband, Chuck, divide their time between Pennsylvania and Ontario, Canada.
by Gayle Roper
Published by Waterbrook Press/Multnomah Publishers
ABOUT THE BOOK
Libby Burton longs to be close to her twin sister, Tori, but their lives have taken them in different directions. Forced to share Aunt Stella's old Philadelphia home in order to receive their inheritance, Libby hopes for a change, but it isn't looking good so far.
First, Tori tries to steal the affection and allegiance of Libby's thirteen-year-old daughter, Chloe. Then when a crossword puzzle with a hidden warning shows up on their doorstep, Tori refuses to take it seriously—in spite of the dead man who delivers it.
Libby finds comfort in neighbor Drew Canfield, but he hesitates to trust her after his disastrous marriage. As Libby struggles to act faithfully in the midst of these confusing relationships, she must also deal with a stolen diamond and a botched kidnapping. The answer to her problems lies in the riddles of the crosswords, if only she can solve the puzzle before it's too late.
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1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?
Where a story comes from is always a difficult question to answer. Usually several things come together to form a whole, and I never remember the order the thoughts appear or the reason they appeared. They just do.
I know that for Fatal Deduction my editor asked for an urban setting, so I picked Philadelphia. I've always lived near that city though never in it. It was the only city I'd feel comfortable tackling. One day when my husband Chuck and I went into Philly to see Les Miserables, we were early and walked around a bit. We stumbled on this wonderful Colonial era lane some distance from the historical district. Bingo. I had my setting. To get around my lack of living-in-the-city knowledge, I had my characters come from outside. Libby and her twin Tori are forced to live in one of the Colonial row houses to inherit their aunt's estate, and Drew, a Ben Franklin scholar, is on a house exchange so he can research in Ben's city for a time.
I'm not sure when the crossword puzzle device came to me. I've always done crosswords and enjoyed them. Using them to have the threats delivered was fun. I found an online site where you could build your own puzzles. I made up ones that included all the crucial words with the clue letters in the right order. The readers can either solve them for themselves or let the characters do it for them. Answer keys are at the back of the book.
2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?
Most of the characters' experiences are strictly the product of my fevered imagination. I've never found a body on my doorstep. I've never sold anything on ebay. I've never discovered a cache of stolen jewels. I've never been pregnant ever, let alone at sixteen. But I have lived in a family that loves me even though they don't understand my commitment to the Lord. Where Libby's family is cold toward her, mine has always been kind and loving, but they do think I'm extreme in the area of faith.
3. What themes exist in Fatal Deduction that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
I guess the theme is family. Sometimes, like Libby (and me), you can reach détente, loving and respecting in spite of differences. Sometimes, like Drew, the others involved won’t allow any meaningful relationship, however tenuous.
My feeling is that most of us with unbelieving families live in situations more like Libby, where you aren't actually rejected, just perhaps misunderstood because of your faith. I wanted readers to see that, like Libby, you can stand firm for Jesus but accept those related to you as they are. They may be angered by your different way of thinking and living, seeing it as a criticism of them, but if you love back, not preach at, most times you can do well together in spite of the differences.
4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?
For me the most difficult parts to write are always the spiritual arcs, the spiritual conversations. I want those segments to be strong, but in fiction you can't write things we might say, like "Praise the Lord"”, and have it sound normal. You also can't have lengthy paragraphs on God-topics or the reader will skip over them. That means that the characters have to be able to state their spiritual case concisely without losing its meat and without sounding trite. A challenge!
I have several favourite parts of writing Fatal Deduction. I liked developing Chloe and Jenna, the teenagers. A thirteen year old mindset is something unique. I loved writing Drew and his penchant for Ben Franklin quotes and his frustration over what to do about Ruthie. I thoroughly enjoyed turning the readers' perception of aged patrician Tinksie Mowrey on its ear during the climactic chase. And I loved writing Libby in first person so she could think things like Bling and bland. That was the Keating twins, she, of course seeing herself as the bland one.
5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?
My next book will be Hide and Seek from Focus on the Family, due out next spring. It's the first in a series about a family of four adult siblings, each having his/her own book. The series is called Legacy: every family leaves one, good or bad. Hide and Seek is about Gabe, the older brother, the local police chief, and football coach, and Ellie, a woman in hiding to protect her son who plays on Gabe's team. He senses her secrets, and she wants to keep them at all costs. His background is a legacy we'd all be happy to have; Ellie's is one of pain and dysfunction.
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Thank you, Gayle, for being in the spotlight with us.
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