Murder in Black & White

Another Wednesday, but oh, so special! Today my guests are co-authors Vickie Britton and Loretta Jackson, who wrote MURDER IN BLACK AND WHITE.

Great to have you both here, ladies, tell us a little about your book.

Loretta - Our latest book is Murder in Black and White. 

          Sheriff Jeff McQuede becomes suspicious when a robber breaks into the Coal County Museum and steals only one item - a black-and-white class photograph. Under the name Jerome Slade the photographer had printed two ominous words: never graduated.
When a body is unearthed beneath the newly demolished school, McQuede realizes Slade had not left Black Mountain the night of the spring dance. McQuede soon uncovers hidden rivalries between Slade and his classmates. When he discovers that Heather Kenwell and the woman of his dreams, Loris Conner, were rivals for Slade's affection, McQuede fears finding out the truth.
Theft, blackmail, and another brutal killing lead back to photographs taken by Black Mountain's eccentric photographer, Bruce Fenton. While others see an innocent collection, McQuede sees murder in black and white.

Anne - Is there a message in Murder in Black and White you want your readers to grasp?

Vickie  - Murder in Black and White deals with perception. Jeff McQuede, because he is an experienced sheriff, must categorize people and events and depend solely on his judgment. As a result, he has grown accustomed to seeing everything in black and white—this time in order to save the woman he loves.

Anne - Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?

Loretta - There are actually two characters who hold a special place in our hearts: Ardis Cole and Sheriff Jeff McQuede.  Because we spend more time with the series characters, we get to know our lead characters well, what they love and hate, how they would react in any given situation.
Our first series character, Ardis Cole, is the archaeologist in the 8-book Ardis Cole Mystery Series. We traveled to Egypt and many other countries to research our settings, and and had a great time.   The fun we had writing this eight book series has made Ardis special to us.  The first book in the series, The Curse of Senmut, an original audio with Books in Motion, is currently being released for the first time in paperback from Rowe Publishing.

In contrast, Jeff McQuede is a rough-hewn Wyoming sheriff trying to live up to the ideals of his famous great-uncle by keeping law and order in Coal County.  He seemed to come to live for both of us when we were working on a short story anthology, “A Deal on a Handshake.”  After that, we started to develop him into a series character.  

I think we are both drawn to his exploration of right and wrong as he handles difficult cases. He also has a humanness about him, a kind spirit and generosity that doesn’t always go along with his job.

Anne - Tell us about the defining moment when you felt as if you’d finally made it as an author.

Vickie - The defining moment for us was when we published our first co-authored work, The Path of the Jaguar, which has been reprinted in England, in Italy, and is still in print. We found out we could write together and have from that moment on which has established our writing career.

Anne - Any words of advice for struggling, unpublished writers?

Vickie - Don’t chase the current market. Never write anything you wouldn’t enjoy reading. Write something you are fired up about. If a certain story intrigues you enough for you to write about it, it will find an audience. 

Loretta - I would add that writing is a difficult field. A person must persist. Nothing worth achieving is quick or easy.

Anne - Thank you! Would you share an excerpt from "Murder in Black And White" with us?

Vickie and Loretta (in unison) - Of course!

The thought flared anger in him, caused his wiry, knotted hands to clench. He was older now and in poor health, but McQuede remembered just a few years back when the little man had been all pointed boots and flailing fists, how it had taken all of his strength to subdue him, to force him into the squad car.

“Yep, I was glad to see the last of that boy. I was good to him, I’ll tell you that. The last time I saw him, he told me he wanted to take Heather to a school dance. I turned two of my credit cards over to him, one for gas, the other for flowers and such. You know what he did?  He stole my cards, and I never saw him again.”

“Did he take any of his personal things, clothes, musical instruments?”

“I’m not sure about that. Didn’t need them, anyway. I had credit then, a good job at the mine. I didn’t know what had happened until I got the statements. That little sneak spent my two cards right up to the limit. Yes, sir, he knows if he ever had the nerve to come around here again, I’d run him off.” The veined hands doubled into fists again, the threat seeming pathetic and empty.

McQuede left the old man with his angry memories. As he crossed to his squad car, he stopped a moment and looked back. A pretty landscape if it hadn’t been ruined by rusted car bodies and piles of debris.  Thickets of sagebrush and juniper trees led down to a little creek. As his gaze roved over the land, he wondered if the old man had lied about the credit card theft to throw him off the track, knowing he would not be able to trace any transactions after all this time. He wondered if Jerome Slade and his father had gotten into a violent fight, and if Jerome was buried out there somewhere, the victim of a drunken argument with his old man. Maybe the boy had never left town, after all.

Anne - Thank you! Where can readers find you online?

Anne - Thanks for dropping by today, ladies. Murder in Black and White is the next book on my to-be-read list!

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