Thursday, February 20, 2014

Get Lost in a Story with C Hope Clark

Get Lost in a Story readers, please welcome the talented C. Hope Clark as she talks about book three in the Carolina Slade series

About Palmetto Poison

Are peanuts capable of murder? Carolina Slade will bust this shell game.

Big money, big politics, crime, greed, and big farming—Slade, an agriculture department investigator in the steamy state of South Carolina, once again finds herself planted in a dangerous mystery.

Her assignment? Find out if there’s a sinister connection between the drug-dealing arrest of wealthy peanut farmer Lamar Sheeler and the gruesome death of Lamar’s teenage son in a car wreck. Especially since the dead teen is Governor Dick Wheeler’s nephew.

Of course, the governor’s people practically sky-write STAY AWAY FROM THE FIRST FAMILY over the Palmetto state’s capitol dome in Columbia, which doesn’t make Slade’s job easier. Couldn’t she simply back off from what appears to be a tragic and ugly—but private—family matter?            

Not with hot-tempered DEA agent Pamela Largo on the case. Ex-wife to Senior Special Agent Wayne Largo, Slade's romantic interest, Pamela's hell-bent on using Lamar Wheeler's situation to re-open a cold case involving an Atlanta drug lord and Wayne's long lost sister, Kay.

Soon Slade’s shoveling shooflies uphill against Pamela’s obsessions, the drug lord’s vendettas, the Governor’s secrets, and the bizarre realization that those secrets involve peanuts.

DONNELL:   C. Hope Clark is a fantastic writer, which I will attest.  Her mysteries draw you in to an up-close and personal adventure.  Please welcome C. Hope Clark.

Hope, welcome to Get Lost in a Story.  I loved Lowcountry Bribe.  Are you a native of South Carolina?

HOPE:  Moved here from Mississippi when I was 15 and have loved it ever since. Lived in Illinois, Washington State, Alabama, Georgia and Arizona for short stints thanks to my military and civil service roots but I chose to spend the great majority of my life in SC. Beautiful state. But needless to say, I’m Southern all the way.

DONNELL:  You have the perfect background to write these novels.  Tell us about that, please?

My degree is in agriculture from Clemson University (go Tigers!). My grandfather was a Mississippi cotton farmer, my aunt as well. So in my career with the US Department of Agriculture, I learned that crime can get weird and happen in unique ways in the country. Anytime you involve money, you find the criminal element. It isn’t as Americana as you think! I love using that homespun expectation to mess with a reader, too. But after meeting my husband, a real federal agent, on a bribery investigation when I was offered a bribe by a corrupt farmer, I saw mystery in a new light. My agency let me start doing minor investigations, plus my husband continued doing the real ones, the more dangerous ones.  Between the two of us, we had fun drumming up ideas for stories. So what better way to start writing mystery than writing about what I knew? About how a bribery investigation went sideways and upended many people’s worlds. And oh what a scandal we were, falling for each other in the midst of an investigation. In the real world that’s a no-no, but it makes for great movies.

DONNELL:  You write mysteries.  What’s your favorite genre to read?  And what authors inspired you?

HOPE: Mystery/suspense comprises probably 95 percent of what I read and almost all of what I watch on television. Adore them. I read the occasional Southern fiction or mainstream story, but I love trying to dissect a mystery and analyze the characters and how they mesh with the plot. My favorite authors, in order, are these: Lisa Gardner, Pat Conroy, Lee Child, Sue Grafton, then a zillion others like James Scott Bell, Sandra Brown, CJ Box. But I fall for a good plump, well-plotted mystery by any author.

DONNELL:  When you’re not writing, where will we find you?

HOPE: I live in the country on some small acreage on the banks of a lake, so needless to say I love the outdoors. I grow a respectable garden (40’ x 50’), am forever planting something new in the flower beds, and I raise chickens. If I wasn’t a writer, I’d be self-sustaining, living off my patch of land with as little footprint as possible. I love working with my hands, and I designed and built both my chicken coops.

DONNELL:  What’s in your refrigerator right now?

HOPE: Venison stew – the veggies from my garden and the venison from my husband’s latest trek in the woods. Also, stuffed bell peppers (I freeze them in the summer to last through the winter) and field peas also from the freezer. Always homemade pickles, chow-chow, and jellies. I’m about to thaw out some deer sausage for tomorrow’s dinner.

DONNELL:  Most unusual thing you have in your closet?

HOPE: Two things. First, I have about ten vintage Barbies collected at antique stores to give my granddaughter each Christmas for the next several years. Second, I have swatches of meaningful cloth, left over from sewing or from old clothes that I hope to one day turn into memory quilts. My clothes, however, are dull. My fashion sense is pretty mundane. Comfortable is my style.

DONNELL:  What characters do you see playing your protagonists WHEN your series is adapted to film. J

HOPE:  I totally see Jennifer Lawrence playing Carolina Slade. Gerard Butler, Matthew McConaughey or maybe a rough Christian Bale for Wayne Largo. He has to be able to pull off the Southern thing.

Thanks for being our guest, Hope.  Now it’s your turn to ask the reader a question.

Hope asks our readers:  Several NY agents declined The Carolina Slade Series because it had an agricultural/rural background. However, most of my readers tell me they love that aspect of these books. Which do you prefer in your reading material: the country or the city, and does setting matter to you?

To find out more about C Hope Clark check out her website.  Hope, thanks for joining us today!


Donnell Ann Bell said...

Hope, welcome to Get Lost in a Story. One of the things I loved about Low Country Bribe was reading about an area I'd never been exposed to. I think it's all about the story. Right now I'm reading a thriller that takes place in New York City. The author has put me there, and that's what you do when I read Carolina Slade. How sad that a gatekeeper tries to restrict us.

Angi Morgan said...

Welcome to GLIAS, Hope. A 40x50 garden? I can't grow three rosh bushes. LOL
Best of luck with your series.

Vickie said...

Wherever the book is set, if it well written and can put me there, I'm okay with either. I lived a big portion of my life in the country, and I loved it. Gardens? I was terrible at it, but I loved to can and loved watching the jars of veggies and soup pile up for winter. Reading about where you live makes me homesick for West Virginia, which is where my series is set. It doesn't matter to me where a story is set, as long as I can "Get Lost in a Story." :-)

Clover Autrey said...

Gotta say that setting doesn't matter to me. I'm all about the characters. They can be anywhere if I like them and have gotten involved in their lives.

Elizabeth Sinclair said...

I was brought up in a very rural community, so I really like reading small town plots. But I won't turn my nose up at a really good city plot either. So I guess my answer to your question is...if it's a good, well-written book, the setting doesn't matter. Now, I'm off to buy PALMETTO POISON. :)

Hope Clark said...

It is sad. But if you think about it, NY agents only know the city, and all they know of the country is stereotypes. Sad they hold back from readers such a rich part of our world.

Hope Clark said...

Love my garden! And part of my family depends upon my summer produce and the chicken eggs. Even now, in February, I can go out there and pick cabbage and Brussel sprouts for dinner.

Hope Clark said...

Good answer, Vickie! I'm the same way. I'm reading a book by James Scott Bell right now that takes place in Washington DC. I'm in love with DC having spent so much time there in my previous life.

Hope Clark said...

Amen, Clover! However, I can say that setting has turned me off a time or two. Just didn't want to invest in it. For instance, an industrial setting has to be in a really great story for me to pick it up.

Hope Clark said...

Lucky for you, Elizabeth, half of Palmetto Poison takes place in the state capital! Best of both worlds this time. Thanks and let me know how you like it.

Kait said...

This is definitely on my tbr list. Sounds like a great story. I'm a country girl, and country is in my heart. Small towns have huge emotions, much more so than big cities where people seem to have less at stake with each other emotionally. That's why I think small town and rural settings make for more compelling mysteries.

Hope Clark said...

My kind of girl. Thanks, and let me know how you like Palmetto Poison.

Loralee said...

Sorry I'm late popping in here. I swear this week had five Mondays! Hope, I've read Low Country Bribe, just finished Tidewater Murder:2 and Palmetto Poison is waiting on my Kindle. Love these books! I enjoy small town settings, farm and ranch settings, too but if a story grabs me, the setting can be anywhere. I live in a rural area with fruit orchards and dairy farms all around but we don't farm any more. Really enjoyed the post. You and Donnell are two of my favorite mystery writers.

Lara Lacombe said...

Welcome to the blog, Hope! I will read pretty much anything, provided the characters are compelling. Setting is the icing on the cake for me! :)

Hope Clark said...

Loralee, bless your heart and thanks so much! Yes, I prefer small town and country settings mostly, too.

Hope Clark said...

I love a strong setting, Lara. I like to envision it as another character. And thanks!

Jodi said...

Setting is absolutely important to me as a reader. Love the use of rural/country settings as I'm a country girl at heart. Thanks for sharing how you and your husband met...what a great story.
Happy Writing.

Ruby said...

Boiled peanuts (“BP’s”) are an addictive treat. I grew up in SC but I live in Texas now so I miss cooking them. Nothing like boiling un-roasted peanuts in heavily salted water for a long period of time and having them with a beer. Thanks for posting. Your book sounds interesting.

Hope Clark said...

Thanks, Jodi. Seems like yesterday.

Hope Clark said...

Thanks, Ruby. Make sure the peanuts are raw when you boil them. But I keep some in the freezer all the time, for when I get a hankering for them. They are the official state snack of SC, you know. Fantastic snack to nibble on while grilling. Had some at a pig pickin' at the beach once and it was just fabulous.

F. Helene Adu said...

A father (of color) growing up in South Carolina in the 30s and 40s told me all I needed to know about rural/country living. Sure some things have changed there, but last I remember, the confederate flag still reigns. I am sure your books are great, but the southern setting will never be "comfortable" for me. Thanks, but no thanks.