Interview With Lauren Carr, International Bestselling Mystery Author

With a new book launching in your Mac Faraday series - Shadow of Murder - I thought it'd be a great time to catch up. Including your latest, how many books have you now published? What are the series these represent?

My first book came out in 2004, I think. I can’t believe I would forget when my first book was released! Anyway, I never dreamed that I would lose count of who many books I have written. But I did! I do put a list of my books and the order that they were released in the back of my latest book. SHADOW OF MURDER is number 29! My next book, a Nikki Bryant Cozy Mystery, will be grand old number 30!

I write across 5 mystery series. Mac Faraday Mysteries, Thorny Rose Mysteries, Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries, Lovers in Crime Mysteries, and the Nikki Bryant Cozy Mysteries. I’ve sold over a half million books world-wide across all of my series! Most of the characters cross over to visit the characters in the other series—except for Nikki Bryant. She’s in her own little world.

I love that you have introduced a wonderful new female character in Shadow of Murder. Can you take a moment to introduce her to my readers - what inspired her, who is she, will she appear in future books (I hope so!)?

Erica Hart is a tough nut to crack! After releasing the Nikki Bryant cozy mystery, KILLER DEADLINE, I wanted to write another mystery with a lead female protagonist. All of my mysteries before KILLER DEADLINE were police procedurals. They are more rooted in reality. Yet, Nikki Bryant and KILLER DEADLINE is not quite so rooted in the real world. I wanted to create a female protagonist with both feet (almost) firmly planted on the ground.

Review HERE!
Erica Hart wanted to grow up to be Nancy Drew—so much so that she and her friends formed a club called the Nancy Drew Crew. But when the high school guidance counselor told her that there was no such college major, she decided to become the Cold Case Diva. She writes a very popular blog and podcast profiling cold cases mysteries and missing persons.

My inspiration for Erica Hart is rooted in my fascination with cold case mystery blogs. There are hundreds of them, and I am an avid fan. Many of my novels are inspired by cases profiled on cold case blogs.

The germ of Erica Hart was inspired by a cold case podcast I had watched about a woman whose best friend was murdered when they were in college. She would go to the police every year on the anniversary of her friend’s murder to remind them of the case. It got to the point that the police dreaded seeing her. When her fortieth birthday approached, it hit home. It had been twenty years since her friend’s murder. She decided to take matters into her own hands and investigate the case herself. She caught the killer. That was when she started a new career as a private investigator who works exclusively on cold case mysteries for friends and family of other victims.

That tenacity is what I want readers to see in Erica Hart. But there is also a vulnerability. She is a new widow, and her son has flown out of the nest. She is basically alone—except for Wentworth, her Great Dane, and Teddy, her cocky cockatoo.

At forty, Erica’s entire life has been turned upside down again. On the same day that her son goes off to college, her husband dies unexpectantly. Unable to live in a house and area that reminds her of everything she has lost, she decides to return to the summer house on Deep Creek Lake, which has its own bad memories. This is the home where her parents had been brutally murdered.

But Erica doesn’t return to Deep Creek Lake to find her parents’ murder. As far as everyone is concerned, the case is closed. A couple of meth-heads, the murderers were killed in what is assumed to be a drug deal gone bad weeks after Erica’s parents were killed. Evidence was found on them, and witnesses said they had done it. However, years later, Erica receives a call from a childhood friend asking questions about her late father’s medal of honor. Before she can explain the reason for her call, the friend goes missing. While others tell Erica that the call was nothing because her parents’ murders had been solved and justice had been carried out, she can’t let the matter go. (There’s that tenacity!)

Will Erica be back in the next Mac Faraday Msytery? Well, she can’t desert the Nancy Drew Crew, can she?

Although you have had a small touch of the supernatural in The Murders At Astaire Castle, Shadow of Murder seemed to delve much deeper into evil and darkness. Can you share a bit about what inspired this direction?

Readers who have told me that they so enjoyed THE MURDERS AT ASTAIRE CASTLE! Honestly, the characters took me in that direction. When I realized where the plotline was going, I got scared. While THE MURDERS AT ASTAIShe was a lot of help and even generously did a beta read of the book to ensure me that I hadn’t totally lost my mind.RE CASTLE dealt with werewolves and wolfmen and shapeshifters, SHADOW OR MURDER was getting into an area that I feared would be out of my league—paranormal spirits and demons. I had to stop and delve into research on something with which I was unfamiliar. That’s one of the reasons it took so long to write SHADOW OF MURDER. I had quite a few conversations with our church pastor, JoAnne Alexander, about the matter. 

I am curious about the effect on a writer emotionally when they immerse themselves in dark and evil during a writing session. How did it affect you? What did you try to leave it on the table and walk away so it didn't affect the rest of your day, or your dreams?

It did make me more aware of what could be going on in the spiritual realm. Before I dove into writing SHADOW OF MURDER, I was vaguely aware that there could be invisible beings around us. Like that maybe my late mother, my biggest fan, was watching me write from over my shoulder and saying, “Good job!” or “When are you going to get Gnarly hit by a car?” (My mother hated Gnarly and often said I should get him hit by a car.)

As always, you balance the dark with light and humor, especially through the incredible animals that inhabit your books. How did you work to balance the dark and light in Shadow of Murder? Did that pacing happen naturally as you wrote, or was it more apart of the re-writes once the draft was finished?

Actually, the balance and pacing come across naturally. I have found that animals do help us to balance our lives. Sterling, my muse, drags me away from my laptop for a walk right when I need it. They are God’s therapists, who are always on call to straighten us out when we need it the most, while charging nothing more than a belly rub.

But then, after conversations with JoAnne and as I dove deeper into the story of SHADOW OF MURDER, I became more aware about how easily some people can be influenced when they open themselves up to malevolent spirits and how much damage they can do to those around them.

What's next for you as a writer? Have you decided on a new book yet?

I needed something much lighter after finishing SHADOW OF MURDER. So I have returned to the cozy mystery world. I am now working on a new Nikki Bryant Cozy Mystery. Look for THE WRONG SIDE OF MURDER this summer. After that, I will be working on a new Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery. Chris Matheson is so ready to marry Helen! He and Helen will tie the knot in A MURDER TO REMEMBER.

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