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Down Among The Dead Men
by Claire Baxter
How far will she go to save the people she loves?
When Caitlyn ventures into the rough, tough world of the South Australian opal fields on a mission to find her estranged father she instead discovers a half-sister she knew nothing about and learns that her father is missing and suspected of a crime.
Dale is a former city lawyer-turned-lapidary hiding out in Minagoona after death threats endanger him and his daughter. When Caitlyn approaches him for help finding her father, he’s reluctant, but attracted by her determination to right the wrongs dealt to her family. His sense of justice is very much like hers, but when his daughter’s life was threatened by men who wanted him to break the law for them, he fled to protect the child he loves.
Still the more Dale gets to know Caitlyn, the more he realizes he can’t let her go up against organized crime on her own—which is exactly what she proposes when she sets out to clear her father’s name. No matter what, he’ll do his damnedest to keep her safe—even if it means exposing himself and his daughter to the men who want to kill them…
Release Date: July 14th, 2014
Genre: Romantic suspense
Goodreads / Amazon / BN
Thank you so much for sitting down with Toot's for an interview. If you don't mind, I have some questions for you about your new book, Down Among the Dead Men and your process for our budding authors as well as fans.
So first off, Down Among the Dead Men Questions.......
In your own words, what is Down Among the Dead Men about?
This book is an amateur-sleuth mystery/romantic suspense. Caitlyn ventures into the tough world of the Australian opal fields on a mission to find her estranged father. There she discovers a half-sister she knew nothing about and learns that her father is both missing and suspected of a crime. With the help of Dale, a former city lawyer hiding out in the desert town as a result of death threats, she attempts to locate her father, but her efforts place them all in danger.
How did you come up with the title of the book and can you tell us its significance?
I struggled for a long time to come up with the right title for the story. It was going to be Real Gems because the plot revolves around gem smuggling and the people Caitlyn finds in the town are very real, with none of the pretense of her city friends. Then, I was thinking about some of the old songs that I sang as a child and recalled one titled Down Among the Dead Men. It struck me that this was the perfect title for my book because at a key point in the story Caitlyn has to climb down a mine shaft and there are dead men in that mine.
Is Down Among the Dead Men a standalone book or will it be part of a series?
It’s a standalone book.
What genre would you say Down Among the Dead Men is and what sets your book apart for fans of the genre?
It’s a romantic suspense. As far as I know my book is the only one of this genre set in the opal mining fields of South Australia. It is a very different kind of mining.
What are some of the elements of the world you created?
The climate is harsh, the heat extreme and the landscape barren. The town is based on a real town in the opal fields, but I have re-named it and used creative license to locate a pub and a petrol station where there are none. Caitlyn spends most of her time between these two locations. Other elements such as the semi-dugout house where Dale lives are based on reality.
If you had to pick one thing, what is your favorite thing about the world you’ve created?
The lunar-like landscape of the opal mining fields.
What was your favorite scene to write for either your hero or heroine in Down Among the Dead Men?
The kiss. For both of them.
What was the hardest scene to write?
I’d have to say the climactic scene underground, because I’ve never written about guns and fights before, so I had to consider logistics that had never been a factor in previous stories.
What's your favorite line or quote from Down Among the Dead Men?
“She wasn’t used to breaking up fights. The most violent thing she’d ever done was beat an egg.”
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated and what made you decide to pursue it as a career?
Like most writers I began as an avid reader. I adored the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome as a child and told my family that I was going to be a writer, but when I grew up I chose a more practical career path. It was only after my children had become independent adults that I took the opportunity to plunge into writing.
What inspires you to put the pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard?
My head is full of characters and snippets of ideas. When a character and a story idea come together, I have no choice but to sit at the keyboard and let them out.
What are some of the elements in/of your writing process?
Frustratingly, I always slow down as I approach the mid-point, I worry that the story is not working and I become resistant to working on it. It doesn’t matter how much or how little plotting and planning I’ve done beforehand. I’ve come to accept that this is part of my process and there is no way around it. All I can do is plod forward a few paragraphs at a time until I’ve passed the mid-point. Once I reach the three-quarter mark, everything flows again.
Are you a Plotter or a Panster?
It depends on the book. I always do a certain amount of plotting, but some books demand a fairly detailed plot while others require only the main turning points.
Have you released anything under a different pen name, and if so, is there any difference between them?
Not under a different pen name, but I have released books in other sub-genres of romance, eg romantic comedy and contemporary sweet romance.
What's next for you?
The second in the Firefighters of Adelaide series of contemporary romances for Entangled’s Bliss line.
Is there anything you’d like to add or say to your fans?
I hope you enjoy the book! Seriously, I hope it goes down well with readers of my romantic comedies and sweet romances especially, because it is a slight departure from my normal writing. To all readers of Down Among the Dead Men…Thank You!
Now I know this is like asking you to choose between your own children, but out of all your amazing characters, who is your favorite and why?
Caitlyn is a favourite, and not just because she’s the one we’re currently talking about. She’s determined and courageous despite being out of her element. She is very protective of the people she cares about.
Are there any of your stories or characters that hold a special place in your heart?
Flirting With Danger, my Entangled Bliss is a special book to me. I loved the story from the moment I started writing it and was so happy to find a home for it at Entangled.
If the book had to have a theme song, what would it be?
Brave by Idina Menzel
Lastly, What 5 things do fans not know about you and 5 they don't know about the book?
1) I went to a school that was established in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, and she signed its charter.
2) I drove trucks around France. I worked for a hire company and delivered vehicles to customers’ businesses.
3) I once dressed as a Bedouin and rode a camel in the Sahara Desert.
4) I hate blueberries and can’t even stand the smell of them, but everyone I know loves them.
5) I can’t even stand up in skis, never mind ski.
1) Minagoona is a fictional town based loosely on the real town of Andamooka.
2) Minagoona is around 600 kilometres north of Adelaide, South Australia.
3) The town is surrounded by mullock heaps (stone and rock left over from mining) where people noodle (fossick) for opal.
4) The climate is so extreme that summer temperatures can soar to nearly 50 degrees Celsius.
5) In Coober Pedy, another mining town, most people live underground and some of the underground houses are so large they have swimming pools.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for taking time to answer some questions. Congratulations on the new book and I can't wait for everyone to read it!
Thank you for inviting me! It was great to be here. Claire
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