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Friday, November 23, 2012


Our Book Club Friday guest author today is Sharon Woods Hopkins, author of the Rhetta McCarter Mystery Series. Sharon is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Southeast Missouri Writers’ Guild, and the Missouri Writers’ Guild. Her short story, Death Bee Humble, appeared in the SEMO Writer’s Guild Anthology for 2012. Killerwatt, her first Rhetta McCarter book, was nominated for a 2011 Lovey award for Best First Novel and was a finalist in the 2012 Indie Excellence Awards. Learn more about Sharon and her books at her website.  

Sharon is offering a a hard copy of Killerwatt to one of our readers who posts a comment. Please either leave your email address in your comment or check back on Sunday to see if you’ve won. Our guests can’t send you your winning books if we can’t get in touch with you. – AP

I find it intriguing to talk to other writers and learn how they get their ideas for their books and stories. At a recent book signing event shared with several authors, the ideas ranged from, “I had the germ of this idea since I got out of diapers,” to “One day the Lord spoke to me and told me to write.” Fascinating.

For me, the idea of writing fiction had been swirling around my French Canadian head (In both English and French) for a number of years. My husband Bill, who is also an author, (Courting Murder) writes prolifically. He has a head full of ideas. Me, not so much. I had always written non-fiction. I couldn’t settle on an original idea. That is, until one day at work, when something happened that propelled me into the story that became Killerwatt.

My real life business is mortgage banking—not a particularly exciting field. One day following a holiday, my loan officer received a strange phone message from a Muslim customer for whom we were completing a refinance of his very elegant home in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The gentleman had the wrong number; he was looking for the man who was teaching him how to fly a plane. (I reproduced this scene nearly verbatim in Killerwatt.) That set my mind reeling with “what if’s?” What if we had a terrorist cell right here in the Midwest? What is there to terrorize in our Ozark Mountain foothills? I began to write.

I found it easy to put my protagonist in my own line of work. That saved me a lot of research. Like me, Rhetta is a mortgage banker who drives a 1979 restored Camaro with a Corvette engine, which she calls Cami. She is married to a retired judge. While we share the similarities I listed, that’s where all comparisons between me and Rhetta end. I don’t honestly think I could do what Rhetta does. Although I own the real Cami, I don’t drive her every day like Rhetta does.

My series takes place in semi-rural Southeast Missouri, and surrounding areas. Murder, terrorism and mayhem can happen anywhere, if you just think about it.

About Killerwatt: After one of her mortgage clients dies in a mysterious car accident, Rhetta McCarter stumbles upon evidence of a terrorist plot to wipe out the entire Midwest power grid. No one believes her—not the FBI, local law enforcement, or her husband. Rhetta convinces her assistant and loan officer Woody, a former Marine, to help her stop the attack. Problems mount, and time begins running out, leaving Rhetta alone to stop the bad guys. Can she do it?

About Killerfind: When Rhetta McCarter's '79 Camaro is destroyed in a fire, she locates a perfect replacement in an old barn. There’s only one problem: the body buried beneath it.

Thanks for joining us today, Sharon! Readers, if you’d like a chance to win a copy of Killerwatt, leave a comment. And don’t forget to stop back on Sunday to see if you’ve won. -- AP


Karen said...

HI Sharon -- Your book sounds like fun. And I do find it amazing how small incidents can spark big ideas in the minds of writers.

Sharon Hopkins said...

Hi Karen, yes it is fascinating what real life offers to mystery writers! Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

KILLERWATT and KILLERFIND are both excellent books!

I am not prejudiced.

Bill Hopkins
(the husband)

Ellie said...

Great to read how the mystery writer's mind works. And that there can be a murder in my own back yard. You have me thinking. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

I'm not prejudiced, either.

Ellie Searl,

Kaye George said...

Sounds like I should read this one! Until June, we lived within sight of ERCOT, which controls the power grid for most of Texas. They gave tours last year and I got to go inside and ask all my terrorist questions. The guide was very patient.

Sharon Hopkins said...

Hi Kaye, Thanks for stopping by. I bet your tour guide didn't know about what happened in Killerwatt, LOL.

Kaye George said...

I did quiz him about an airplane attack, esp. since there's a general aviation airport right there, next to the buildings. I'll have to read yours to see!

Judy said...

Thanks for the glimpse into how your mind works, Sharon. Please enter me for a chance to win your book. Thanks. judydee22002@yahoo dot com

Sharon Hopkins said...

Hi Judy. Glad you stopped by!

Michelle F. said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I used to work for lawyers and one of them was a judge for a small township. I'm in the Midwest; Ohio, not Missouri.

Sharon Hopkins said...

Hi Michelle, My husband is retired but still practices a little law. Mostly he writes, too. His first mystery, Courting Murder, came out in October.

traveler said...

Hi, Sharon - What a wonderful and fascinating post. Your book sounds intriguing and unique.

petite said...

What a fascinating background and excellent book to learn about. Best wishes.

Sharon Hopkins said...

Hi Traveler and Petite, Nice to meet you here on the blog. I hope you leave your emails in case you get selected for a book! Thanks for dropping by!

Maggie Toussaint said...


I find it amazing at how an idea sticks in an author's head, and how three people will see the same thing but only one will say "that's a story idea."

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. In honor of the Big Read, a library push across the country in February, I've been asked to talk to fledgling writers about "where to get your ideas."

In the beginning, it took a nearly formed situation, such as a true crime event to make me think "I could write that." Now something as simple as the way sun glints off a knife can send me into full-fledged story mode.

Great topic. And best of luck with your new book! Maggie

Sharon Hopkins said...

Hi Maggie, you are so right about ideas. Last summer our church hired a company to seal the basement walls, so they dug this neat trench all around the church. It was about 3 ft wide. I thought,"what if someone buried a body there?" Couldn't concentrate on church for imagining all sorts of killings.

carlbrookins said...

A lot of authors I know (and I do know a lot of mystery authors) are like cosmic vacuum cleaners. We suck up all sorts of bit and pieces that come our way, sort out, classify, organize and store for future use, ideas. I've used ideas from my kids, my wife, a fragment of a conversation from a woman passing in an airport, and from my doctor.