I've known fellow author Deborah J. Ledford since the beginning of my publishing life. I was incredibly lucky to have Deb act as editor on my first two novels with JB Kohl, One Too Many Blows To The Head and Borrowed Trouble. I probably learned more from her - mostly about my bad habits - than any writing teacher I ever had.
Here we are years later and most of my bad habits are fixed (sort of) and Deb and I have both published multiple books. Deborah's series featuring Steven Hawk and Inola Walela began with Staccato, continued in Snare and rounded out a trilogy (for now) with Crescendo. The books are taut thrillers with completely unique protagonists at the center. If you like strong female characters, exciting mysteries and locales off the beaten path, these books are for you.
Her latest venture is mounting an audiobook recording of Crescendo, but she wasn't satisfied with keeping it simple. Her fund raising campaign also benefits the preservation of native American cultures and language. Follow the links to learn more and to contribute. Read on to hear more about Deborah and the books.
Eric: Why is it important to you to make your audiobook production also a benefit?
Deb: I’m Part Eastern Band Cherokee and very proud of my heritage. When I was doing research in 2006 for my previous book, SNARE, I met Floyd “Mountain Walking Cane” Gomez. A few years later, he told me about the desperate need to cultivate and the language and culture on his Taos Pueblo and other reservations in our nation. I never forgot his passion to preserve ancient societies, so when I came up with the audiobook idea I knew that adding the benefit of providing funds for his Blue Feather Corporation nonprofit organization would be an ideal fit.
Eric: Just curious, why choose to start with CRESCENDO and not the first in the series, Staccato?
Deb: My favorite character in the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series is Inola. She’s a deeply flawed, kick-ass cop who will risk everything to right a wrong. I wanted to present a strong and capable female lead who knows her job very well, but who doesn’t always follow the rules. Also, TV and film actress Christina Cox will narrate the audiobook and CRESCENDO was her favorite of the books.
Eric: what is your personal link to the Native American culture in the stories?
Deb: It took a while to find the ideal tribe to represent in SNARE, and when I truly stumbled upon New Mexico’s Taos Pueblo I knew the location and its people would be the perfect catalyst to add intrigue to the series. Inola is Cherokee, and the leading lading in SNARE, pop rock star Katina Salvo, is Taos Pueblo—so this added a lot of conflict that Hawk would have to deal with. The leading ladies I mention, as well as the supporting Native American characters in my thrillers, have become part of my soul. I could not present my books without acknowledging how much the people from these tribes have shaped me and my words.
Eric: Do you consider the novels more N. Carolina tales or more desert tales?
Deb: All three books in the series are primarily set in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina. About mid-way in book two, SNARE, the action moves to the Taos Pueblo Reservation. I spent my summers growing up in the Carolina region of the main location I write about and nothing much has changed since I was a little girl. And the village on the Taos Pueblo has been in existence since the 1400s. Members of the tribe still dress in traditional garb for their private celebrations and pow wows, showing great respect for their elders and the tribulations they faced in order to help their tribe flourish.
Eric: What draws you back to these characters for what are multiple novels now?
Deb: I always intended the series to only be a trilogy, but received such a huge response from fans to keep the Hawk/Walela relationship going that I really couldn’t say no. I love all of my characters (even the villains!) so I’ve found it quite easy to slip back into their skin.
Eric: How can people contribute?
Deb: The NatAmGoGo campaign to raise funds for the audiobook production/Native American language and culture benefit will run through October 4th. There are a lot of outstanding perks available for consideration, from book downloads, signed print books, the unabridged CRESCENDO audiobook, poster autographed by Christina Cox, and some very cool jewelry by Navajo, Hopi and Taos Pueblo artists. Here is the direct link to the NatAmGoGo page: http://goo.gl/Y1H9ZP.