Anne Charles - Award-Winning Mysteries Splashed with Fun
Ann Charles is a USA Today Best-Selling author who writes spicy, award-winning mysteries. Her Deadwood Mystery Series has won multiple national awards, including the Daphne du Maurier for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Ann has a B.A. in English with an emphasis on creative writing from the University of Washington and is a member of Sisters in Crime and Western Writers of America. She is currently toiling away on her next book, wishing she was on a Mexican beach with an ice-cold Corona in one hand and a book in the other. When she is not dabbling in fiction, she is arm wrestling with her two kids, attempting to seduce her husband, and arguing with her sassy cats. Sam Lucky likes to build things—from Jeep engines to Old West buildings to fun stories. When he is not writing, feeding his kids, attempting to seduce his wife, or attending the goldurn cats, he is planning food-based book signing/road trips with his wife and working on one of his many home-improvement projects. As our Author of the Day, Ann tells us all about her book, Can't Ride Around It.
Please give us a short introduction to what Can't Ride Around It is about.
Following is the back cover copy for this story:
Jack “Rabbit” Fields knew a good thing when he saw it, whether it was a sound horse, a sure bet, or a pretty sage hen. When it came to locking horns with any curly wolves he ran into along the trail, he tended to shoot first—a notion that had saved his hide more times than he could count. But that was before he came to Deadwood.
Now, someone is stealing freshly dead bodies right out of their graves, and Rabbit and his amigos are on the hunt to figure out who. And more importantly, why?
Unfortunately, finding the answers to those questions will take plenty of Rabbit’s bullets, and maybe his blood, too. When the shooting stops and the smoke clears, he reckons there will be a whole lot more cold corpses in the Black Hills. With any luck, he won’t be one of them.
This is the third story in our Deadwood Undertaker series. It’s full of adventure, action, humor, and supernatural fun.
What inspired you to write about freshly dead bodies that disappear right out of their graves?
We love to tell exciting stories of the supernatural, and what’s more nail-biting than bodies disappearing from graves? A missing body—especially a fresh one—inspires all sorts of questions and worries, which makes for a fun story.
Tell us more about Jack "Rabbit" Fields. What makes him so special?
Rabbit is a rootin’ tootin’, fun-lovin’ son of a gun whose quick temper tends to land him in trouble every now and then. His intentions are honorable, and he has no patience for tyrants. When the chips are down, he’ll be there to back your play.
This book forms part of the Deadwood Undertaker Series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
While every book is written with enough backstory when needed to clarify the past events for new readers while not boring those who have already read the previous books, we think that the story will be more entertaining if you start back with book 1, Life at the Coffin Joint. This first book introduces the characters in their elements and leads you through the “how they met” stories. Book 2 in the series, A Long Way from Ordinary, explores their relationships more as well as the supernatural trouble brewing in the Black Hills (Dakota Territory).
You co-write these books - how do you go about deciding who writes what?
We brainstorm together and then Sam takes off on the page. When he’s finished, Ann comes along behind him to play in the sandbox. When they finish, they read their combined efforts together aloud and make any final changes before shipping the story off to their editor.
Besides writing, what secret skills do each of you have?
According to Ann, Sam is a jack of all trades. There is nothing (as far as she knows from her 20+ years with him) that he cannot fix.
According to Sam, Ann is optimistic and ambitious. She believed she could write books for a living and she made it happen.
Which book in the series is your personal favorite and why?
Neither of us have a favorite at this point. Each story focuses a little more on one certain character, and the first three books together balance out the series.
The book is filled with thrills and chills - having readers at the edge of their seats throughout the story - how did you pull this off?
We used scene and sequel to help control the pacing throughout the story with the idea of keeping the readers engaged without exhausting them by including too much action and tension.
Why did you pick Deadwood and other mining camps as the backdrop for your stories?
Deadwood is a real town in the Black Hills of South Dakota that has a rich and exciting history filled with mining, gambling, prostitution, and bigger-than-life characters such as Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock and Charlie Utter, to name a few. Ann spent a good portion of her childhood growing up in the Black Hills, exploring ghost towns and abandoned mines, and studying Deadwood’s history.
Do you plan all of the twists and turns in your books out ahead of time or does some of it just tend to "happen" along the way?
There is a mix of planning along with organic plot twists as we write. We like to leave ourselves room to explore unplanned turns in the plot as we go. This makes the stories fun for us as well as the readers.
When you start on a new book... what is the first thing you do?
Ann says, “Come up with a title,” because she is weird about needing a title first to figure out the rest of the story. Sam says, “Brainstorm what we want to accomplish in the next segment of the series.”
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
Interesting writing habits? We like to brainstorm in the morning on our front porch while drinking coffee and reading news headlines to each other.
An average writing day goes like this: Wake up with intentions to write a lot; pause for coffee and to feed the yowling cats and tired kids before they start school; return to the computer to start writing; pause to make breakfast and let the cats out; return to the computer again to dig into writing and hopefully make a little progress; pause for lunch and let the cats in and satisfy their milk/food demands (to stop the yowling); go back to the computer to write some more; pause to collect the kids from school and help with homework; go to the computer again to try to write a little more; stop for supper and to play with the cats; return to the computer and try to write a couple more pages; give up and put on a movie and hang out with our kids and cats.
What are you working on right now?
We are putting the final touches on a Christmas novella for this series called, Catawampus Christmas Carol, that we plan to have available in early December.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Ann can be reached via email at [email protected] and can also be found at the following online locations: