This week's interview with Roxy Burroughs. After you read the interview, be sure to check out how you can win the copy of her book, A Stranger's Kiss that she's giving away!
I started out as an actress. You may have even seen me in a couple of roles on TV. I'll include a link to a clip at the end, just so you can enjoy my 80s perm.
From there I started writing plays, mostly interactive murder mysteries for dinner theater. Then I graduated into novel writing.
I still act, on occasion. I still write plays. But, mostly, I sit in my office typing stories. Relaxing for me is a trip to the mountains with my husband, a bubble bath, and a great book.
Speed Answer Challenge:
Favorite Ice Cream: Butter Pecan. It was my dad’s favorite. And since he’s no longer here to enjoy it (God, I loved that guy), I order it now in his honor.
What was the last thing you baked? A lemon meringue pie for my father-in-law. My husband is SO jealous.
Lover or a Fighter: A lover, baby. All the way.
Top Place to Visit on Your Bucket List: New England, in a heartbeat. I’ve been through Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Glorious. And old England. My mother was born in Cornwall, I’m a big fan of the Brontes, and would kill (pun intended) to do the Jack the Ripper tour.
Favorite Author: Oh, man. So many. My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. Favorite author? A tossup between J. R. Ward and Joy Fielding. Holy two ends of the spectrum, Batman! I’ve read everything those ladies have written.
Nerd or Cheerleader: Total Nerd. At least, I’d thought so when I was in high school. Turned out when I met up with some classmates years after, I discovered I was considered cool because I was in all the plays and musicals. Who knew? I was “Glee” chic before my time.
Drive or Fly: I like being chauffeured. Merging and backing up are not my strong points. If we drive, my husband is behind the wheel so I can daydream. Love to fly! I chill, I doze, I read. Heaven.
Tell us a bit about your book, A Stranger’s Kiss.
It's a romantic suspense with a touch of the paranormal. My hero, Sam Hutchinson, is devastated by the murder of his son. Hoping to gain closure by learning more about the suspected killer, Sam traces the murderer's roots to Bandit Creek, Montana.
There, against a serene mountain backdrop, he finds Amy Tesher. Lies are Amy's camouflage, all fabricated to escape the secrets of her past. And to protect her eleven-year-old daughter, Renee, who is able to communicate with Sam's ghostly son.
Unaware of Sam's real mission, Amy takes him into her boarding house. Just as the serial killer returns, to claim Amy…and her daughter.
What inspired this story?
A Stranger’s Kiss is my stand-alone sequel to A Stanger’s Touch. The two stories run parallel so there's no need to read one to enjoy the other.
Sam is briefly mentioned in A Stranger's Touch. I wanted to pair him with someone equally damaged but dealing with it for the sake of her daughter.
How do you interact with your characters?
I spend a lot of time thinking about my story before I ever start writing. As I reflect on my characters, I get ideas about what they might do in a given situation. Usually, these notions come to me in the middle of the night, so I have a pen and notebook by the bed. I think that's because it's a subconscious process, at least for me. Once I'm distanced from the noise of the day—ringing telephones and countless errands to run—I can listen to the characters whispering their story in my ear.
How long have you been in the publishing industry? What’s your publishing story?
I was spoiled. I published the first book I ever wrote. It's about the ghosts (of course) that inhabit Heritage Park, a Calgary tourist attraction. From there, I wrote an award-winning short story that appeared in an anthology. Every play I've ever penned has been produced and I've now ventured forth with the fantastic group of writers who make up the Bandit Creek Books team.
What can you tell us about your next book?
I have yet another sequel planned for my "Strangers" line. And an urban fantasy coming soon, called Wolfen Time. I also have a short story available called Letting Go, about how a chance encounter helps a woman deal with the loss of her father.
Where can readers purchase your book?
May we read an excerpt from the book and can you provide it here?
You certainly may! The following scene is the first time Amy and Sam meet.
As Amy opened the front door, a chill wrapped around her, as if a blast of arctic wind had swooped in over the mountains. There, right outside her house, stood a man, arms folded across his chest as he leaned against a parked car.
Amy took a breath, willing her heart to pound a steady beat. Finding anyone on her doorstep, would have been a shock. She was a stranger here, hadn't been back to the secluded house in years. She had no friends in these parts, and now, no relatives. But this man was as out of place as any could be. Starting with the vehicle on which he was perched.
If the car was his, it was much too expensive for the neighborhood, and too posh for a mountain trek. Amy wasn't an expert on makes and models but the jaguar on the hood of the black sedan told her all she needed to know. And the flashy ride didn't match the man's attire. A nice enough charcoal suit, but the rumpled fabric shied away from his slim frame, as if he'd slept in a larger man's clothes.
A tangle of brown hair shadowed his eyes, dark stubble inked his jaw. He didn't look familiar, but over the years she'd learned to be cautious. Her mother had cultivated dangerous friends in this town.
Amy locked the door behind her, keys in her fist, the longest one poking out between her index and middle fingers, just how her aunt in Detroit had taught her. Ready for anything.
She marched down the front walk, her runners chomping at the fallen leaves in her path. As she approached, the man straightened and used his fingers to comb the hair from his eyes.
"Something I can do for you, sir?"
Now that she was closer, Amy took a good look at her visitor, opening the mental filing cabinet of her memories and pouring over the images she kept of her mother's Bandit Creek associates.
Jag Man was six feet or so, and on the older side of thirty. Other than his cheekbones, made prominent by the thinness of his face, his most noticeable feature was a pair of hazel eyes, more green than brown. One was highlighted by a fine scar that sliced through his brow. That and the five-o'clock shadow gave him an outdoorsy ruggedness. In spite of the unkempt packaging, he was a good-looking man. One she knew she hadn't met before.
But good looks didn't mean a good soul. Amy kept her keys ready in her fist.
"I need a place to stay." The voice came out in a low baritone – clear, melodic, and with complete confidence. The tone of a man used to getting his way.
Amy wondered who'd pointed him in her direction. No one local. Her grandmother had retired from the bed and breakfast business a few years before she died. Amy may not have visited, but she'd exchanged emails almost daily with her Nan to keep up with life at the old house – her grandmother's socializing, gardening, even what she had for lunch. If only Nan had mentioned she was ailing, Amy would have been on the next plane. But her grandmother was feisty and independent to the end. She died obliged to no one, in her own bed, surrounded by her collection of photographs and antiques, just the way she wanted it.
"Mrs. Turnbull runs a nice Bed and Breakfast further down the road–"
"Isn't this a B&B?" Now he was smiling, pouring on the charm like a salesman. Maybe he was one. At a car lot. That would explain the Jag.
"It used to be." Amy turned to view the wooden sign on the lawn, proclaiming as much, though the lettering had seen better days. Something else to fix. "We're closed for renovations."
The man drew a wallet from his back pocket. "I can pay cash," he told her, opening it. "Three hundred a night."
Amy shook her head, wondering what her grandmother would say about turning down good money. She knew what Nan had charged for a room, even one with a private bath, and it sure as hell wasn't that much.
The man thumbed through the bills. "Four hundred."
Did he expect caviar on his morning bagel? Strike the salesman angle. This guy definitely wasn't one. No haggling.
"Look, I'll give you three grand, up front, for the week. Whether I stay for the duration or not."
A giddy squeak welled up in Amy's throat. That was more money than she'd ever seen at one time. Cash like that could really help fix up the old house, pay off some bills she still owed in Detroit, and buy new books and clothes for Renee. Heck, even a few things for herself. With some left over for a rainy day. But she wasn't about to shelter a man she didn't know.
He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a gold case. "Here's my business card. Call my office. Check me out."
She'd already checked him out. Though on the lean side, she sensed a nice build. Maybe he'd been ill. Maybe his tailor had gone on vacation. Maybe she needed to focus on her problems and stop imagining what he looked like without that bulky suit.
"Go ahead. Take it."
Amy snapped back to attention, warmth creeping into her cheeks. The man was still offering his card.
She reached for it, her hand so close to his she felt the heat radiating from him, the pent-up energy. Something wasn't right with this guy. She'd lived by her wits long enough to trust her instincts and they were chattering to her now like a flock of magpies in the presence of a hungry hawk.
She took the card, anyway. Not that it meant much. She could print up a bunch of her own, declaring herself to be Michelle Obama, if she chose. And his office? The number could belong to his great aunt Sophie, coached to say whatever he wanted. Still, it was easier to agree. The sooner he was on his way, the sooner she could get back to work. She glanced at her watch. The hardware store, and the call, would have to wait until tomorrow.
"I'll phone in the morning. Have a good evening." She turned toward the house and made her way up the walk, examining the card.
Sam Hutchinson. Barrister.
She read the address. So Jag Man was a Calgary lawyer. At least now she knew how he got the car. But what was the guy doing here this time of year? It wasn't exactly the height of tourist season. Many of the family-run businesses were shut down for the winter.
"Excuse me, Miss."
She stopped and looked over her shoulder. "Yes, Mr. Hutchinson?"
The man's smile was designed to thaw the coldest jury during a January ice storm. "I didn't get your name."
Because she hadn't given it. But what would it hurt? It wasn't her real one. "Tesher. Amy Tesher."
"Thanks, Ms. Tesher." The car lights flashed as he made his way around to the driver's side. "See you tomorrow."
* * *
Sam knew he'd outstayed his welcome. When the woman turned back to him, she'd stepped forward, looking like she might refuse another visit. So he'd jumped in the car and sped off.
No wasn't an option.
He parked down another dirt road under a dead tree, hoping police didn't patrol the area. His presence would be difficult to explain, impossible to justify.
He reached over to the passenger seat, snapped opened the locks on his briefcase, and shuffled through the newspaper clippings. The first dated back fifteen years, articles from the old Cincinnati Post, the Atlanta Constitution, the Toronto Star, and Saskatoon's Star Phoenix.
All involved children. All of them dead. Boys, mostly, but with a few girls sprinkled in here and there. Fresh faces looked out at him, sadness behind their eyes, as if they'd known their fate before it happened.
He came to the most recent clippings last, Calgary newspapers documenting the latest victim.
Sam caressed the boy's picture, as if he could tousle the brown locks one more time. Of course, the black and white photo didn't show the color of Tommy's hair. It didn't reveal the freckles on his nose, or the multi-colored braces he wore to straighten a crooked incisor.
It didn't capture Tommy's screams, either. Or show how he'd suffered before his death.
Sam rested his head against the high seatback and closed his eyes, waiting for the queasiness to pass. He tried to remember the last time he'd eaten. And couldn't. Not that it mattered. He had more important things to do.
He pulled the lapels of his suit jacket around his neck and grabbed the scotch he'd purchased that afternoon. He ripped off the cap, keeping the bottle in its brown paper bag. No sense drawing more attention to himself.
The heady scent of scotch filled his car, oaky and rich. He took a swig, gritting his teeth as the amber liquid burned its way down his gullet. Sam hated the taste. But after a few more gulps, he wouldn't notice. The scotch would have done its job.
He shivered. The nights were getting cooler. At least the alcohol would keep him warm. Until he could convince Amy Tesher to open her house to him.
The first step in his plan.
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A big thanks to Roxy for letting us interview her. If you'd like to hear more from her, tune into our Blog Talk Radio Show this Wednesday at 3:30 PST when we interview her live! To set a reminder for the show click here.
And now for the giveaway! Please leave a comment with your email address to enter for a chance to win. It's as easy as that!