VOICE FROM THE ASHES
An Interview with author Cindy Davis
--What was your inspiration for writing Voice from the Ashes?
A--I had this female character in my head. She even had a name, Lucy Baines. She kept waking me up at night insisting she had a story to tell. She made me very angry sometimes.
Q--Why did you select Mount St. Helens as the setting?
A--One day, Mount St. Helens was in the news. I wondered if it were possible for someone to hide a murder in such a scene. Then I wondered who might do such a thing. I considered Lucy, but she wasn't being set as a criminal. Nor did she want to die. Once I'd settled on the where and the who, I needed a place. I chose the fictitious name Cassell Springs and located it fourteen miles north and slightly west of the mountain. That's the beauty of fiction.
Q--Do you have plans to explore either Lucy or Ian further?
A--I've been thinking about it. I think they both have more story to tell, especially since I left a potential relationship between them hanging at the end of the book. If there's another story, it may not be a murder mystery though.
Q--Are all your novels set in small towns?
A--Yes, so far. I grew up in, and reside in a small town. I love the ambiance and the cameraderie of these settings. But there's also a conflict and familiarity that's bred here--great for a fiction writer.
Q--Who's your favorite author?
A--I am an avid reader and I read different authors to get different experiences. I love Ruth Rendell's character studies, John Grisham's plot twists, Tess Gerritsen's nail-biting suspense and Clive Cussler's vivid settings.
Q--Who was your favorite supporting character in Voice from the Ashes?
A--I definitely had the most fun with Lee Holcomb, ex-judge turned town manager. Like Ian, he was supposed to be someone for Lucy to play off, but he developed into a whole other plot line.
Q--What was the most intriguing aspect of writing Voice?
A--Ian's journey during the eruption. He faced a multitude of emotions in that four day period.
Q--So, how do you determine who'll be the murderer?
A--I try and out with a particular culprit in mind. That way I can mold the clues and red herrings around him or her. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. In the original draft of Voice, there was a whole different antagonist. During the rewrite, he became too unlikely because he was so obvious. Also, with Lucy's part being downplayed, the culprit had to change.
Q--Do you have a 'real' job?
A--I'm living the dream life as a full time writer/editor and publisher. Besides writing mysteries, I've edited/published my own fiction magazine (Characters~Kids' Short Story Outlet) since 2002. I sold its parent magazine PEEKS & valleys in 2003 because I was short on time. I also ghostwrite, right now I'm working on a woman's memoir. I edit novels for three small publishing houses.
Q--How do you feel about Lucy now that you've finished writing the book?
A--When I finished working with her as the main character, I felt it was a good story, but something just didn't feel right. I had no idea what it was. During the rewrite, one of the other characters, Ian Merryweather, a cop wannabe, continually pushed himself to the forefront. I kept telling him to mind his own business. Finally, when I'd gone about a third of the way through the rewrite, I realized Ian was right. My examination of him as a person ended up developing Lucy much further.
Q--Are you working on anything else?
A--I've recently completed two novels. Lethal Dose of Love takes place in another small town--Sackets Harbor, New York. It begins with a woman watching her son, whom she'd given up at birth, grow into a con-man and blackmailer. In a desperate attempt to save her townspeople, she decides to kill him.
The second is A Little Murder where the ill-mannered owner of a fishing charter boat is stabbed to death in the middle of Lake Winnepesaukee, New Hampshire, and his wife's the only suspect.
I'm currently working on a sort of sequel to A Little Murder. In The Bearded Lady, Angie and Val, partners in a catering business, match wits against an unscrupulous iris breeder.