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Sunday 20 September 2015

ℚ A Judgement of Whispers: Mary Crow [7] - Sallie Bissell

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about A Judgement of Whispers (, Midnight Ink, 360 pages), her latest Suspense Novel, book seven of Mary Crow series.

Author Q&A | Synopsis | Teaser | The Series | About the Author |

A big welcome to Sallie Bissell, thank you for joining us on BooksChatter.

What was the inspiration for A Judgment of Whispers?

"Of all my books, Judgment of Whispers is the one based on actual events.   It’s the story of new evidence being discovered in an old, cold murder case.  
I based the murder on one of Nashville, Tennessee’s (my hometown) most notorious murders--a girl who vanished while delivering Girl Scout cookies, back in the 1970’s.   Fast forward to the present day, where I’ve become friends with the mother of an autistic man.   These two disparate ideas got the 'what-if's going in my brain.

What if an autistic man, as an autistic boy, had been implicated in that girl’s murder?   What if he and his mother had lived their whole lives being whispered about, suspected of something that he may or may not have done?   What if his disability made him unable to adequately defend himself?  That got me cranked up to tell this story—the helplessness of people judged by gossip and innuendo."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"I was a young mother when this child was killed, so I shared the shock and horror of the local community.  Nashville has its share of homicides, but this one cost us our innocence.  A young girl, in a safe, middle-class neighborhood, vanishes while her mother is putting dinner on the table.   If it happened to her, it could happen to any of us.  The case remained unsolved until a few years ago.   Nashvillians still talk about it, to this day."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for A Judgment of Whispers - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I’m so glad you asked!  About three books back I started writing my first drafts with a strong thematic image in mind.  Not only did that nail down a cover idea, but it also gave my plot a focal point—a thing that I could use symbolically in the story.   Music of Ghosts had a spooky old cabin; a weedy local highway ran through Deadliest of Sins.   I knew a massive oak tree was going to figure prominently in Judgment of Whispers.   At Midnight Ink Terri Bischoff let me choose the tree I wanted for the cover, and the very talented Lisa Novak did the rest—and I think she did a fabulous job!"
Why should we read A Judgment of Whispers and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"My hero, Mary Crow, makes all my books unique.   She’s a half-Cherokee prosecutor who turned her back on a brilliant career in Atlanta to return to her home in the mountains of North Carolina.   Mary straddles two worlds—a white mountain culture and an older, Native American sensibility.   She’s smart, brave and loyal, and utterly committed to see that justice prevails.   If you were ever in serious trouble with the cops, Mary would be the first person you’d call.   She’s as good in the woods as she is in the courtroom."
Can you tell us something quirky about A Judgment of Whispers, its story and characters?
"I usually put a real-life friend in my books.   With their permission, of course, and I never make them bad guys.   Tuffy Clark, a detective in Music of Ghosts, is my real-life tennis coach.   Tom Ruffing, another tennis pal, is one of Mary’s colleagues in Deadliest of Sins.   In Judgment of Whispers, Jack Wilkins is a retired detective whose wife has left him over his obsession with this case.   In reality, Jack and his wife have been happily married for years.   They got a big kick out of being included in a book.   I don’t know if other writers do this, but my buddies don’t seem to mind and it’s fun for me."
Who would you recommend A Judgment of Whispers to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"Campers.   Hikers.   People who get a thrill when they hear bumps in the night.  Anyone who’s fascinated by how past acts can affect the present (aka most Southerners).  One of my goals as a writer has always been to give an accurate depiction of the Appalachian Mountains.   Sure, we have cable and Internet and cell phone towers, but we also have moonshine and ghost stories and wooded coves that are so dark and deep that smart phones are useless.

Disclaimer: bad guys come to bad ends in my books, but animals (particularly dogs and horses) always come out okay."
If you could / wished to turn A Judgment of Whispers and the Mary Crow series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Well, Santa Claus, I’d like Michael Apted to direct it in the North Carolina or Tennessee mountains, since he did a such a spectacular job in Nell, with Jodie Foster.

Olivia Munn would be a great Mary Crow, as would Kimberly Guerrero or Julia Jones.

Adam Beach would be fabulous as Jonathan Walkingstick, though he might have to wear lifts in his shoes.  Jonathan’s pretty tall.

And I want a bit part, maybe as a judge so I could wear a black robe and bang a gavel."
Well, the wish list has been compiled ;-)

What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?

"I like to tell stories that grab readers.  Usually, they are set outdoors and there’s more action than people staring into coffee cups wondering what went wrong with their lives.   Though I love lyrical, beautiful writing, I won’t let it slow down a story.  I’m not too much into horror, but I adore Stephen King.   He is such a fine storyteller who also slips these little gems of prose into his stuff. I’d love to have his brain for a day or two!"
What is your writing process?
"I start with an idea, or a couple of ideas from which I develop a rough outline.   If that resonates, and that’s the only way I can describe it—if that rings true then I go ahead and write a more detailed outline, around 30 pages.  You can work out all sorts of plot problems like this.   Then, with the heavy lifting done, you can write for real and have some fun—let your characters do their own thing.   I’ve often said it’s like driving from Atlanta to Chicago.  You know you’ll get there, but you’re not sure of the exact route. It’s a good thing if your characters are surprising you.

Practically, my day starts around nine and ends around three.   Rather like high school, only without Algebra and gym class. "
What is in store next?
"Hopefully, at least one more Mary Crow book.   She’s got to decide between her two great loves, Jonathan and Victor.   At this moment, I’m working on a novel with a futuristic twist (think Connie Willis) and I’m beginning to outline a historical thriller starring Jonathan Walkingstick’s ancestors on the back burner."
A lot to look forward to.  Thank you again so much for taking the time to talk to us and give us so much insight into Mary Crow.

A Judgment of Whispers 
Available NOW!

UK: purchase from purchase from Nook UK purchase from Kobo UK purchase from Google Books find on Goodreads
US: purchase from purchase from Barnes & Noble purchase from Kobo

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