When twenty-five-year-old Mary Stuart learns she inherited a farm from her recently murdered grandparents — grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born — she becomes obsessed with finding out who they were and why someone wanted them dead. Along the way she accumulates a crew of feisty octogenarians — former gangsters and friends of her grandfather who have spent their long lives on the outskirts of the law. She meets and falls in love Tim Olson, whose grandfather shared a deadly secret with her great-grandfather. Now Mary and Tim need to stay one step ahead of the killer who is desperate to dig up that secret. This is a story of quests, a quest for truth, a quest for self-discovery, a quest for meaning even at the end of one’s life.
Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
Mary is a bit naive about life, a bit lost, and very straightlaced, but when she meets up with her grandfather’s friends, she learns what is important: that one must do anything to protect those she loves. And she does come to care deeply about the elders in her care. How can Mary’s journey be anything but fun with companions such as these:
Kid Rags, a dapper forger, seems to have two interests in life — drinking bourbon and eating copious amounts of food.
Crunchy, an ex-wrestler, threatens to crunch anyone who doesn’t treat Mary well.
Teach, a con man, tells Mary more than she ever wanted to know about gangsters, Wyatt Earp, and life.
Happy, an ex-wheelman for the mob, is ready with his gun though his hands shake too much to aim, let alone shoot.
Iron Sam, a dying hit man just released from prison, has his own, secret agenda.
Lila Lorraine, an ex-showgirl, was a friend of Mary’s grandmother and an ex-girlfriend of Iron Sam.
At various times during the writing, each character became my favorite. I especially liked Happy, because he offered so many opportunities for humor, and Iron Sam, because he offered so many opportunities for spookiness.
Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
I borrowed the name “Kid Rags” from a turn of the 20th century gangster, and I borrowed the characteristics of Iron Sam from a real killer of the same era, but for the most part, I created the characters from scratch. Or from various parts of my own psyche, perhaps.
What inspired you to write this story?
A friend of mine used to regale me with tales of early gangsters, debunking the myths that surrounded them, and I wanted to write a book using the truth as a backdrop to a modern-day tale. Also, I wanted to write a story of a quest using the hero’s journey format, and the two desires come together in Daughter Am I.
What issues in today’s society have you addressed in the book?
Though it was never a goal when writing the book, I did touch on the issue of the elderly. We forget that they once were young, once were vibrant, once perhaps were great lovers or great heroes. Even when one is old and forgotten, one still needs love and more importantly, a reason for living.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Keep in mind that a book begins with a single word. Many novice writers get intimidated by the thought of writing an entire book, but all you ever need to write is one word. I know that’s not much of a goal, but in the end, it is the only goal. That’s how every book all through the ages got written — one word at a time. By stringing single words together, you get sentences, then paragraphs, pages, chapters, an entire book. After that, who knows, you might even reach the pinnacle and become a published author. All because you set your goal to write one word.
Tell us about your other books.
Second Wind Publishing published my fourth novel, Light Bringer, earlier this year. The hero of Light Bringer, Becka Johnson had been abandoned on the doorstep of a remote cabin in Chalcedony, Colorado when she was a baby. Now, thirty-seven years later, she has returned to Chalcedony to discover her identity, but she only finds more questions. Who has been looking for her all those years? Why are those same people interested in fellow newcomer Philip Hansen? Who is Philip, and why does her body sing in harmony with his? And what do either of them have to do with a shadow corporation that once operated a secret underground installation in the area?
My first two books are More Deaths Than One, which tells the story of Bob Stark who sees his mother’s obituary in the morning paper, which stuns him because he buried her two decades ago before he left the country to live in Southeast Asia. So how can she be dead again? And A Spark of Heavenly Fire, which tells the story of how Kate Cummings, an ordinary woman, gathered her courage and strength to survive the horror of an unstoppable bioengineered disease let loose on the state of Colorado.
Where can folks buy your books?
All my books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. Smashwords is great! The books are available in all ebook formats, including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free!