Readers may be interested to know what inspired Carolyn to write What We Bury (Detective Madison Knight Series) and what they can expect from this latest instalment in the international bestselling series. Well, Carolyn sat down and answered these questions and more. She even gave us some excerpts from the book, giving us a true inside look.
So, here we go…
What inspired you to write What We Bury?
Detective Madison Knight came to me years ago and demanded that I tell her stories. I was obliged for at least a couple reasons. One, she was a unique and compelling character. Two, the world was in need of bad-ass female leads.
Regarding this particular story, What We Bury, it’s the tenth instalment in the Detective Madison Knight series and picks up a few weeks after Shades of Justice. Don’t worry if you haven’t read all the previous books in the series because they do stand alone. But just like with any series—literature or TV—you will get a deeper appreciation for the characters and underlying plots if you start from the beginning.
The idea for the murder in What We Bury originated because my husband and I were house hunting last year. And with Madison Knight and her boyfriend Troy looking for a new home, I thought what if their real estate finds a body while preparing for an open house?
What can readers expect?
Murder. Investigation. The pursuit of justice.
That’s the series’ tagline, but what else I’ll you is that in this crazy world, we all need an escape. We need to be entertained more than ever, we need characters and stories that pull us in, and we need humor. What We Bury checks all those boxes. I’ve written a murder mystery that’s both serious and complex while at the same time has laugh-out-loud moments and comical banter. (They say when the author feels something, the reader does. I actually laughed to tears at some of the interactions! 😊 Others I cried, but no spoiler alerts here!)
Here’s one passage where I laughed out loud. If you know Madison at all, even if you don’t, I’ll let you know she can be a little dry and to the point. In the following excerpt taken from Chapter 17 of What We Bury, Madison and Terry believe this guy named Carl Long is a link to their person of interest in the murder investigation they’re working. They show up at his door and this happens. The excerpt picks up where Madison is feeling deceived and says…
“You want to go back to jail? Keep lying to my face.”
His eyes met hers, his mouth twitched, and he spun and flew out the door.
“Ah, shit!” She flailed her hands in the air. She hated it when they ran. The damn devil’s pastime.
Terry was already down the front steps and to the sidewalk, well on his way to catching Carl Long. Might as well let her partner nab the guy. He’s the one who loved running, after all.
She stepped out to the stoop and tapped a foot.
And later in that chapter, Madison’s questioning this Carl guy (who has a record). This excerpt starts with Madison asking …
“You’re sure you don’t know that man?”
Long sniffed and didn’t look back at the photo. “Never seen him before.”
“I don’t care if you don’t believe me.”
“You should. That is unless you like the three squares a day at Mitchell County Prison. They must be tasty.”
“Fine, I might know him,” he mumbled.
“I didn’t quite catch that.” Madison angled her head and cupped her ear.
“I know him,” Long repeated loud and clear.
What is your writing process? Do you outline diligently or write more in the flow, organically?
I wish I could outline meticulously like some of my fellow authors, but I’m an organic writer. The most of an outline I can hope for is a bullet-point synopsis, but even then, my characters are usually far too impatient to wait for me to lay much of anything out in advance. I love writing in the flow, though, because I really find that’s where the magic happens! For example, I know Madison needs to question someone. I might not have a clue what they’re going to tell me, but after I write the scene Madison often walks away with amazing revelations and leads in the case.
What scene, if any, surprised you the most with this book?
There were a few, but the most shocking event happens about mid-way—but I can’t reveal it without providing a spoiler! Let’s just say that it took both me and Madison by complete surprise.
What was your biggest challenge with writing this book?
Fitting all the elements into the plot that I wanted without over-complicating it. Madison has a murder to solve, but she also had a side mission to take down corrupt cops and the Russian Mafia that operates in her city of Stiles. I also wanted to make sure that anyone could pick up the book and understand the plot without having read previous instalments in the series.
Does Madison have any addictions? So often strong detectives are depicted in literature as being alcoholics and independent.
Oh, she’s certainly independent—or at least she claims to be! She’s gotten rather “attached” to her boyfriend Troy, though, as readers will find out in this book. As for addictions, she loves a glass of red, but she’d kill for a Hershey’s chocolate bar. 😊
Tell us a bit more what Madison is like.
She’s wired to find justice, no matter the cost. It probably stems from the fact that her grandfather, who was a cop, was gunned down just after his retirement. The shooter was put away, but that wasn’t enough to satisfy Madison’s sense of justice. Not entirely. She knew the origin of the shooter tied back to the Russian Mafia that’s still active in Stiles. Combine that with the fact Madison never got to meet her grandfather but was close to her grandmother and a personal drive was born.
She’s also the type of detective who doesn’t want to refer to the murdered as victims but prefers to call them by name.
She hated to think of the murdered as victims, detesting the assignment of a label to a once-living individual, loved by people.
Madison is also very much into listening to her instinct and gut feelings about things. It’s something that can drive her on-the-job partner Terry crazy.
“Where are we going?” Terry caught up and kept pace with her.
“We’re going to find out where she was stabbed.”
“Based on your gut?”
“You know it.”
She’s usually always in a hurry because she gets focused, like a train on tracks. She’s definitely the type that tosses her jacket on the back of the chair and discards trash in her car. In the following snippet from What We Bury, Madison’s looking into what they believe is their Jane Doe’s car and talking with Terry.
Madison cupped her eyes and squinted into the sedan’s driver’s-side window. It was immaculately kept. No dust on the dash or garbage within sight. It was possible Doe was the type who stuffed crap under her seat, though. Madison went around the car, repeating the process. “Wow, she keeps this thing clean.”
“Not everyone treats their car like a garbage bin on four wheels.”
“In your words, hardy-har. I’m too busy to—”
“An excuse. Everyone’s busy.”
She’d defend herself, but he was right. She had a horrible habit of tossing trash over her shoulder into the back seat. She wasn’t quite as bad as she used to be because it drove Troy mad.
Madison will also defend her chocolate addiction to her on-the-job partner Terry as many times as it takes!
“Are you really eating a chocolate bar for dinner?”
She laughed. Terry, her food monitor. “I’m not sure why that would surprise you.” They’d been partners going on eight years, and for that length of time, she’d always had a chocolate—more specifically, a Hershey’s—addiction.
“I was hoping we’d stop somewhere, hit a drive-thru on the way to the ex-husband’s—”
“Because that’s so much healthier.” She mumbled, “Vegetable,” just before taking another bite of heaven.
“If that’s what you have to tell yourself to soothe your conscience.”
She scowled at him while her mouth was full of gooey milk chocolate. “Ymm,” she moaned and closed her eyes.
“You really have a problem. You know that?”
“Whatev—” She chomped on another chunk. “Ymm.”
Terry shook his head. “While you masticate that bar like a—”
She stopped chewing, her glare daring him to finish his sentence.
She’s not a real fan of exercise. Her partner Terry says…
“Come on, be real here, Maddy. If I didn’t know you better, I’d say you just wanted to go for a walk.”
“Here’s what I’m thinking…” She ignored his jab. So what? She wasn’t a fan of exercise; a lot of people weren’t.
All fun! What can you tell us about the case Madison works in What We Bury?
The body of a forty-something woman is found stabbed in a shed—no ID, no personal belongings, no sign of the murder weapon, but there are the letters GB written in blood. AND the actual scene of the crime is unknown because it quickly becomes evident the woman didn’t get attacked where she was found. So Madison needs to find her identity, the initial crime scene, unravel the mystery of “GB,” and find means, motive, and opportunity. But while she’s doing all that, she’s also determined to ferret out corrupt cops in the Stiles Police Department and bring the Mafia down. (Wish her luck! She’ll need it!)
Enjoy this little teaser from Chapter 1:
Those two words brought Madison Knight to 982 Hillcrest Drive in the middle of a Saturday afternoon in March. It was a quiet neighborhood in the south end of Stiles, a city of about three hundred sixty thousand, and it had been her real estate agent, Estelle Robins, who’d called. When Madison saw the name on caller ID, she’d assumed Estelle had found the perfect place for Madison and her boyfriend, Troy Matthews. Boy, had she been mistaken.
Madison parked in the driveway, admiring the raised bungalow with its grayish-brown brick and beige siding. It couldn’t be older than fifteen years. The front door was under a small overhang, and that’s where Estelle was standing, her arms wrapped around herself as if she were cold, but the temperature today was unusually warm. Some of the more northern states would envy their spring-like weather in early March.
Madison got out of the car and approached Estelle. She was normally the picture of calm and put-togetherness, but her hair was frizzed around her heart-shaped face, and her eyes were wet and wide. Her brown eyeshadow was smudged beneath her right eye, but her mascara had stayed in place.
“Omigod, Madison. I didn’t know who else to call, but you’ll know what to do.”
“You did the right thing.” Madison was a Major Crimes detective with the Stiles Police Department. Troy could have tagged along, as he was also a detective for the department, but his primary role was leader of a SWAT team. Solving murders was her thing. “Where is she?”
“In the shed. I’ll take you there.” Estelle led the way to a side gate next to the garage. Her hand was shaking as she worked the latch.
Madison followed Estelle down a concrete sidewalk toward the backyard. “How did you find her?”
“There’s supposed to be an open house.” Estelle spoke over her shoulder. “I was making sure the property looked good.” Estelle stopped and hoisted a chain-link gate at the end of the walk that was hinged on the fence and wedged against the brick of the garage.
To the right was a deck, and ahead was a manageable yard. The rear of the lot was framed by mature cedars and a chain-link fence. There was another gate back there, and it appeared open.
Estelle pointed to a shed with a concrete foundation and beige siding. It was about twelve feet wide and twenty feet long.
“She’s in there.” Estelle shivered. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
Where can readers get a copy of What We Bury?
What We Bury is available from popular retailers in ebook, paperback, hardcover, and large print edition.
All excerpts in this post are from What We Bury and protected by copyright.