Inside the Literary Mind of C. Hope Clark
January 17, 2017
Murder came in with the tide . . .
Edisto Island is a paradise where people escape from the mainstream world. Yet for newly sworn-in Edisto Police Chief Callie Jean Morgan, the trouble has just begun . . .
When a rookie officer drowns in a freak crash in the marsh, Callie’s instincts tell her it wasn’t an accident. As suspects and clues mount, Callie’s outlandish mother complicates the investigation, and Callie’s long-time friendship with Officer Mike Seabrook takes a turn toward something new–but is shadowed by the unsolved mystery of his wife’s death. Everyone’s past rises to the surface, entangling with death that cuts to the bone.
I am interviewing C. Hope Clark, whose new novel, Echoes of Edisto, has been called a phenomenal read from beginning to end.
Question: Tell me about your newest book and what was the inspiration behind your writing it?
From C. Hope: The newest book is the third in the Edisto Island Mysteries – titled Echoes of Edisto. This series is rapidly increasing in popularity, and it’s origin came about after book two, Edisto Jinx, did so well. Book two left protagonist Callie Jean Morgan in a good place, back on her game. Of course, that meant her life took a serious nosedive in Echoes with the loss of two people in her life, and the new knowledge that family in her world were not what they seem.
This series takes a broken, flawed, ex-big city detective, and places her on quiet, secluded Edisto Beach in the South Carolina Lowcountry. What is supposed to be a time of healing for her, after the loss of her husband and her career, turns into a two steps forward and one step back ordeal, where she learns life is never a straight line and crime happens anyplace, even on gentle Edisto Beach.
Question: Why and when did you decide to become a writer?
From C. Hope: I’ve always written well. I decided to freelance in the late nineties when I could not sell my first mystery. But after six more years of writing, editing, and developing a more professional writing voice, I took fiction seriously and sold my first book, then my first series, then my second series. It wasn’t a flash of lightning experience.
I just took one rung on the ladder at a time, growing bit by bit. I adore reading good writing, and I get enthralled with mystery tales, so what better place for me than in the mystery genre. But what made me actually pen the first mystery was having experienced a bribery investigation in my office, with me as the one being bribed. After dealing with law enforcement agents, lots of controversy, and a few threats, I felt there was a tale to tell, and that became my first book, Lowcountry Bribe.
Question: What book has been the greatest influence on you and your writing and why?
From C. Hope: I cannot relate to one book. Just can’t. Not with all the great books out there. I do, however, have Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy, way up on my favorites list. I write mystery with a taste of noir, but thanks to Mr. Conroy, I try to instill a strong sense of place. I like my readers sinking into setting as much as story.
Question: Where do you find ideas for your books?
From C. Hope: Oh, I don’t know. My history of working with the government, doing administrative investigations. My husband’s thirty years as a federal agent. Gossip and chatter at beach houses on Edisto Beach. Press releases from various government entities. A simple visit to the beach. Spotting someone who triggers a “what if?” or “wonder why they are here?” All of us are full of ideas. There is no magic position. It’s a matter of training one’s eyes and ears to view the world through that of a writer. All we do, see, and experience has story potential.
Question: Where do you find ideas for your characters?
From C. Hope: Many of my characters are compilations of people I’ve known in real life. I hear a joke and think of a character. I see someone cry and think of a character. I hear a banter between two people, and think of a scene between characters. It’s a matter of realizing the world is made up of settings, scenes and characters, and authors are just the glue between the puzzle pieces we put together.
Question: How would you describe your writing style?
From C. Hope: My first series is a tad quirky, but serious. Keep in mind I write mystery, and I am not a fan of cozy. I want a story to feel real. My second series has a hint of noir, which is my favorite mystery subgenre. I have a third series in mind, and it too will lean noir. I like shorter sentences and crisper verbs. I love dialogue, and I feel that great dialogue can save a mediocre story.
Question: What do you consider the most difficult part of writing a book?
From C. Hope: If you divide a book into fourths, I consider the second quarter to be the hardest. You are raising the tension, planting the clues, introducing characters, but your protagonist is still fumbling around, nowhere near the climax. That is difficult to keep toned and escalating.
Question: What are your current projects?
From C. Hope: I am currently writing the fourth Edisto Island Mystery, tentatively titled Adrift on Edisto. It is expected to be out May 2017. I would also like to do some nonfiction for FundsforWriters.com, my nonfiction side of my world. And I have a third series in my head.
Please click HERE to read more about Echoes of Edisto.