Hello Everyone! I have been busy writing. I wanted to take a break and share an author friend with you. Her name is Susan Finlay. 🙂
Writing has opened up a whole new set of friends for me. I have enjoyed getting to know so many authors. Susan Finlay is one of those. Her kind personality will win you over immediately, and I am fascinated with her writing. Because of her research and knowledge, you learn about other countries and their customs while reading her works.
I had the privilege of reading her book, In the Shadows, before it became available to the public. Starting with page one, the characters come to life and the mystery begins. Two of my favorite characters are the grandmothers. (You will have to read to see why!)
For now, please welcome Susan. She is going to tell us about herself, her talented family, and her books.
Hi Sara, Thanks for inviting me to your blog. I’m a former banker, turned novelist. I was born in Germany. I mention that because I am only half-American, as is my book’s protagonist, Dave Martin. My other half is German. I grew up in the U.S., but I’ve traveled back to Germany three times to visit grandparents, aunts, and uncles. I’m sure I’ll go back there again since my son moved to Germany a little over a year ago. Perhaps it’s my heritage that makes me interested in foreign places. I set most of my novels in places outside the U.S. Hearing that, you might expect I chose Germany for my new novel’s setting. It actually takes place in France and England. Don’t worry, I have another series I’m working on that is set in Bavaria!
In my new novel, In the Shadows (An Outsiders Mystery), Dave Martin’s other half is French. Like me, he was raised in the U.S. As the story begins, he is visiting his French grandmother in the cave-riddled troglodyte village of Reynier, France. While running errands for her, he bumps into a beautiful stranger, Maurelle Dupre. After Maurelle flees at the sight of gendarmes, Dave wonders what she is hiding. His curiosity deepens when he hears that the locals think she’s a gypsy, a thief. Knowing that people are often misjudged, he isn’t convinced she’s either of those. But he still wonders why she seems so frightened and distrusting. Everyone tells him he shouldn’t get involved. They may be right. The last time he got involved, back in Chicago, and trusted a woman he lost his detective’s shield. But, as always, he can’t seem to leave well enough alone. Central to the book are two grandmothers who are life-long best friends. The women are quite different from each other, and each has her own interesting backstory, which will come out more in the second book. One of the women has a granddaughter, Simone, and the other has a grandson, Dave. It’s only natural they would try to pair them up as a couple. But then, the mysterious English woman appears and stirs things up.
My daughter, Samantha, is the cover artist for the book. She came home from the university last year, carrying a lovely painting of a street scene in a French village. I asked, “Ooh, where did you get that. It’s beautiful.” She said, “I painted it in my art class.” I was so impressed. I asked if I could use it for the cover of my second book. Well, we used part of the painting for the cover of the first book. I don’t know what I’ll use for the second book. I’m so proud of her.
I have been fascinated with caves since I was a little girl and my family went on a tour of Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Back when I first began writing, I saw photographs of troglodyte cave dwellings in France. I knew then that I would someday write a book set in a troglodyte village. I’ve never been to France, but hope to go there someday. I suspect my son, being much closer to France, will get to visit there before I do.
For the book, I researched France–the culture and the land. Many French villages have troglodyte cave dwellings (known as troglos). From what I can tell, most troglos are centuries old. Many have been refurbished and are still lived in as either full-time residences or part-time holiday homes. Some are used as hotels, restaurants, or storage. Not all troglos are old, though. I saw a website that gives information about brand new troglos that are being built in France.
Troglos typically started out as primitive cave homes. Back in the 1800’s, thousands of people in France lived in cliff dwellings, caves, or chalk pits. In some areas, whole hillsides were dug out, creating subterranean apartment blocks that were home to hundreds of people. Bureaucrats were horrified by the underground lifestyle and referred to the dwellers as troglodytes.
In more recent years, façades were built on the outside of some cave homes. Some facades are simple, with only a wall, door, and maybe a window. Some are quite extravagant, with large picture windows, and even patios, gardens, etc. In some rural French villages, many of the houses that appear ordinary from the street, have caves at the rear.
In my fictitious village of Reynier, there are houses and troglos of all varieties. Reynier’s cave system, a place of safety, runs beneath much of the village, and is cherished by the locals.
Reynier, France is the setting for the second book, too. That book, tentatively titled Where Secrets Reside:(An Outsiders Mystery, is already written and is in the editing stage. The book takes place a year later. It’s shorter because the majority of characters are already familiar, so there’s less set-up, and yet it’s more complicated because the number of viewpoint characters is much greater. Expect a few new people—in particular, a gendarme captain who will be a main character. Also, expect some flashbacks and a lot more scenes inside the caves and troglos. The basic story is this: The close-knit village of Reynier, France, is victimized by a serial killer, a puzzling criminal whose actions force the residents to look at themselves in a new light. Is the killer one of their own? Who will be the next victim?
Susan Finlay loves photography and traveling. She was born in Germany, but grew up in the U.S. A mother of two grown children, she lives in Missouri with her husband and their three cats. Before becoming an author, Susan worked in banking suspicious activity and security. The second book in her Outsiders Mystery Series is already written and in the editing stage. It’s expected release date is mid-2014.
You can read more on her author blog: http://www.susansbooks37.wordpress.com
Her book can be bought on Amazon in e-book format and paperback.