“Keep your friends close, but your enemies CLOSER!“
Meet Gayle Bartos-Pool, her fresh new protagonist, and learn a few facts about her writing process for her newest standalone mystery.
Q: Gayle, tell us about your protagonist. First, what is the story behind her name?
GB Pool: Her name is Shelby Ann Webb – SAW – She cuts through the crap.
Q: I like that! What is her main personality characteristic?
GB Pool: Shelby would walk into hell for a friend, but she wouldn’t sell her soul for one.
Q: Does she have any special talents?
.As a police officer, she watches body language of suspects to see if they show signs of guilt. She keeps a detailed record of who, what, and where in any case she is on so she can discover more to or eliminate possible suspects. And she doesn’t believe in coincidences. This was something her dad, a former LAPD cop, had taught her.
Q: Is there a possible “love interest” in her life?
GB Pool: Shelby has shared her house for many years with a mysterious guy who doesn’t tell her much about what he really does for a living. What she doesn’t know might get her killed.
GB Pool: The cover has a history. I received a Jacaranda starter plant years ago and we planted it. It grew and produces beautiful flowers. We also get gorgeous sunrises in our backyard. One day I took a photograph of the tree and the sunrise and got the picture. When I was devising the cover for CLOSER I thought about the title of the new book, and had an idea about someone getting closer in the shadows. So I found a silhouette of a man and super-imposed it on the tree and got the cover.
Q: Wow! You make it sound so easy. How was writing this book different from your others? Did you have an “aha!” moment? Were their special difficulties you overcame?
GB Pool: I started writing the book several years ago. I wrote an outline, something I seldom do. When I finished the four or five page outline I lost interest in the story because I had a few more things I wanted to write. I wrote those three or four books and then decided I would go back to the outline for this book.
By then I had decided the original guy in the story would have a different part. I also changed his nationality. I had him be a British police officer working jointly with the LAPD on a case that involved a killing in another small California town, but it got too cumbersome trying to determine what he could do as a foreign national in this country, so I changed him to an LAPD cop working jointly with Shelby who is a police officer in a small California coastal town. Since I had enough twists and turns already, this made the story work better.
Q: Thanks for this bit of “process.” I’m always amazed at how authors come up with and flesh out their ideas. Did you have a particular inspiration behind this plot?
GB Pool: The inspiration came from stories floating around the Foothills where I live. There have been rumors of marijuana being grown here for years. I did a short story about the same thing featuring Chance McCoy, my lead character in Second Chance. I did another version in one of my Johnny Casino Casebook short stories. This particular tale was going to be novel-length however, so I needed even more drug-related things. I found them and made up the rest.
Q: Again, it sounds so easy! How about the setting? Why did you choose this particular spot?
GB Pool: I came up with a fictitious small town, Santa Isabel, along the coast in Central California. My main character was basically kicked out of the LAPD years before and exiled to this town. She has made good even though there are those in this little burg who want to cause her trouble, using her past to screw up her future.
Q: Okay, so you did some “world-building” in your made-up Santa Isabel, what other research did you have to do for this book?
GB Pool: I did have to look up police hierarchy so I knew roughly who the characters are in the police department. Since Santa Isabel is a small town they have fewer officers, but they still have the top police officials who are basically politicians and then the captains, lieutenants, and sergeants who do the work.
I used the Internet to plot how long it took to drive to certain places and fly to other places, using both commercial and private airlines. And even the weather needed to be researched since the bulk of the story takes place in January along the foggy coastline.
Q: Your book is getting more and more intriguing as we go along! So, how long did it take you to write CLOSER?
GB Pool: Even though I did have a fairly good outline mapping out most of the major plot points in the story, I had to fill in the facts, add more facts, double-check other facts, and all the while keep track of how old people were twenty years earlier and when major things happened to certain people. But I do keep a chronology when I write any story so these details are written down.
The funny thing is, Shelby does exactly the same thing when she starts her crime book on a case. She writes down who was where and when so she can eliminate possible suspects or add another suspect to her list, record details, and jot down suspicions from witnesses, or guesses, and then check out all these points until she has eliminated everybody except the guilty party. I guess she and I have a lot in common.
Q: I’m guessing Police Officer Shelby Ann Webb solves her mysteries… perhaps a bit quicker than it takes you to write them! Thank you, Gayle, for visiting “Here’s How It Happened” and sharing some tips and secrets about your newest mystery novel.
CLOSER is a fascinating, intriguing, and quite satisfying mystery novel. It’s a beautiful trade paperback (5.5″ x 8.5″ with 398 pages in a comfortable-to-read size font) Buy a copy on Amazon here: CLOSER on Amazon
A former private detective and once a reporter for a small weekly newspaper, Gayle Bartos-Pool writes three detective series: the Gin Caulfield P.I. series (Media Justice, Hedge Bet & Damning Evidence), The Johnny Casino Casebook Series, and recently added: Chance McCoy in Second Chance.
She also penned a series of spy novels, The SPYGAME Trilogy: The Odd Man, Dry Bones, and Star Power. She has a collection of short stories in From Light To DARK, as well as novels: Eddie Buick’s Last Case; Enchanted: The Ring, The Rose, and The Rapier; The Santa Claus Singer; CAVERNS; She’s also written three delightful holiday stories, Bearnard’s Christmas, The Santa Claus Machine, and Every Castle Needs a Dragon.
Gayle Bartos-Pool is the former Speakers Bureau Director for Sisters in Crime-L,A. and also a member of Mystery Writers of America and The Woman’s Club of Hollywood. She teaches writing classes: “Anatomy of a Short Story,” “How to Write Convincing Dialogue” and “Writing a Killer Opening Line” in sunny Southern California. She has also published a book for writers called The Anatomy of a Short Story Workbook.
Amazon Author page here: https://amzn.to/2uBx1Zi