Having Christmas stories out in print is such a cheerful feeling during the holiday season. So, I’m thrilled to be interviewing Debra E. Marvin about her newly released historical Christmas novella, DESERT DUET.
Nike: You once told me DESERT DUET was “mystery lite”. What do you mean by that?
Debra: I enjoy romantic tension in a story and a happy ending, but I love mysteries first and foremost. Because Desert Duet is part of a collection by Forget-Me-Not Publishers, I knew readers would expect romance. Myself? I wanted to play with a light mystery plot. There’s a suspicious death, a crime or two, and good reasons for the hero and heroine to figure it all out, but mystery is certainly not the dominant plotline. That’s for another day!
NIke: Give us an insight into your main character(s). What does he/she do that is so special?
Debra: DESERT DUET has my version of a classic, old-Hollywood movie couple. Eugene is a nice guy who’s taken a chance on pursuing a dream career rather than sticking with something solid. He’d like to be sure he’s done the right thing—but that remains to be seen. Thea is confident with good reason, and modern for 1933, not because she’s ahead of her time, but because she’s already learned some lessons the hard way by her early 20s. Like Cary Grant and Claudine Colbert, or Tracy and Hepburn, Eugene and Thea had an instant meshing…a need to tease each other. I just had to keep up!
Nike: Any amusing story to tell about the writing of this novella?
Debra: I’d done quite a bit of online research. (1933, Humbug, AZ, an abandoned mining camp up in the Bradshaw Mts.) I discovered the Castle Hot Springs Hotel, a getaway resort and spa for the wealthy, starting before 1900. One of my best friends lives in Arizona, so we planned a road trip ‘for research’. Off we went on unpaved roads, miles up into the mountains. “Off the grid” territory. Just as I warned her we should be “getting close” to what’s left of the resort, we came around a curve and saw the transplanted palm trees in the distance. It was a magical moment to share. My characters go to a Christmas dance at the hotel. There’s nothing better for an author than to experience what you imagined your characters experiencing. Please check out my Pinterest page and see what I mean.
Nike: If you could have lunch with your favorite author (living or dead) who would it be, and why?
Debra: Right now, it would have to be Louise Penny, author of the Inspector Gamache/Three Pines mystery series. I’m completely hooked. I read a few out of order (I borrow audiobooks from the library) before deciding I needed to start over with book one, Still Life. She’s just delightful, and her writing is amazing. Audiobooks have one drawback though—you get to work in the morning and you don’t want to turn off the vehicle and get out! It seems I’m always at a ‘good part’ when my journeys end! She writes weaving, multi-threaded mysteries with a cast of characters that keep me entirely enthralled. Lunch with her at the Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City would be my choice! Can you set that up?Let’s get a sneak peak of DESERT DUET, or as Debra puts it: a Merry Christmas from Humbug. Wish You Were Here!
It’s 1933 in the good old US of A. In the midst of drought, the Depression, and gangsters on the lam, America finds solace in Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Ex-pilot Eugene Tanner, determined to pen the lyrics for the movie industry’s first “Best Song” award, books a rushed December stay at the remote Humbug Creek Guest Ranch (A Gold Mine of a Getaway!) Where better to find inspiration for an epic Western, than amid all that trail dust and burnt coffee?
Thea Knight gives up her short holiday break from the studio’s costume department to play cowgirl hostess at her family’s struggling guest ranch. But instead of helping their witty and handsome guest, she becomes his biggest distraction. Old flames and past regrets take a backseat when the pair become embroiled in a ghost town mystery marring Humbug, Arizona’s rustic Christmas. Thankfully, the cowgirl is as fast with her Winchester as she is with her comebacks.
Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She’d like to live a wee bit closer to her grandchildren, but is thankful that God is in control, that He chooses to bless us despite ourselves and that He has a sense of humor.
Other than writing light-hearted romances and gritty gothics, she has rather normal obsessions such as fabric, peanut butter, vacations, British dramas, and whatever mystery series she’s currently stuck on.