CRIMINALLY GOOD: interview with author C. Hope Clark

1) So, who are you & what have you written? 

My name is C. Hope Clark, author of The Carolina Slade Mysteries and The Edisto Island Mysteries, both set in my gorgeous state of South Carolina. Both involve flawed yet strong women who are anxious to fight for both justice and their families.

Carolina Slade (“Slade”) works in rural SC, avenging rural crime affiliated with the US Department of Agriculture. Just like nobody knew what NCIS was before Mark Harmon, nobody realizes there are federal agents routing out crime in every United States federal agency, and that includes Agriculture. Death and crime in the country is nothing like the city, and it can be grizzly and unique. Slade has Southern humor and snappy one-liners, but she is deeply invested in her career.

The Edisto Island Mystery involves Callie Jean Morgan who comes home to Edisto Beach after losing her federal agency husband to murder and losing her job as a Boston detective to burn out in avenging his murder. She has a teenage son to finish raising, but once she returned to her Southern roots, in the muggy, bittersweet Lowcountry Coast, she finds that crime follows her, and she’s thrust back into law enforcement. Her flavour is more dramatic and her well might run deeper than Slade’s with all the tragedy she’s had to overcome (and continues to experience). Both series have settings used heavily as characters, places that I adore and feel the public would fall in love with as well.

Carolina Slade Mysteries: Lowcountry Bribe, Tidewater Murder, Palmetto Poison, Newberry Sin (expected winter 2017/2018).

Edisto Island Mysteries: Murder on Edisto, Edisto Jinx, Echoes of Edisto, Edisto Stranger

You can LIKE my Facebook page, check out my website HERE and/or follow me on Twitter as @hopeclark.

2) Why do you write crime fiction?

Crime fiction challenges me. I don’t want to just roll with a character and their happenstance ways through a lightweight story. I want a character to work for the story, for answers, for truth, for justice. In my former career, I troubleshooted difficult issues in rural South Carolina with the federal government. I already adored reading mystery, so I equally adored solving problems that impacted people’s lives.

Then I met my husband, a federal agency with USDA, when I was offered a bribe by a dangerous farmer. While most folks don’t equate danger with a farmer, there is serious crime in that world as well because lots of money exchanged hands, and farming is one of the most dangerous professions in existence. I married my federal agent, and of course he loves crime stories as well. He serves as my technical adviser, and I write stories that both he and I experienced, only with twists, turns, and changes to avoid the personalities in the real cases. Thus originated the Carolina Slade series!

However, I also adore the Lowcountry of South Carolina, and its dense, dark, ominous setting. Perfect for another crime series. The Edisto Island Mysteries juggle the juxtaposition of a carefree vacation beach and death/crime. It makes for fantastic personalities and opportunity for twists. But in terms of the genre of crime fiction as a whole, I want the author to pit his skills against mine in solving a crime. Anything less and I am bored with the tale.

3) What informs your crime writing? 

My crime writing is informed from both my investigative past as a Special Projects Representative and my husband’s past as a Federal Criminal Investigator (Senior Special Agent) with the US Department of Agriculture. We delve into real life cases then adjust them to our suiting, then I take off writing what I hope is a fun tale. As for the beach writing, I grew up in the dark, dank Lowcountry, so I learned to look for danger at every turn.

4) What’s your usual writing routine?

Daily. I write full time. Sometimes it’s two hours of fiction, and other times it’s ten. I also speak and freelance as well as run a site called FundsforWriters.com where I counsel writers in earning a living. I often present webinars and contribute to books for Writer’s Digest. My newsletter for FundsforWriters reaches 35,000 readers, so it keeps me busy as well.

But I rise when I wake up, no alarm clock, eat breakfast then write. Then a break to garden, go to the gym, run errands. Back to writing. Dinner, then back to writing. I love being able to break up my day as I choose. My study is solely restricted to writing, with a gorgeous view of Lake Murray, deer, ducks, and various wildlife. I adore solitude so writing suits me. My edits take place on the back porch, overlooking the lake, bourbon and the occasional cigar in hand.

5) Which crime book do you wish YOU’D written, and why?

There isn’t just one, just like I don’t have a favourite author.

A Study in Charlotte – Brittany Cavallaro – Written about the teenage descendants of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. It’s the perfect combo of current day crime solving with the Holmes/Watson dynamics. And the writing is superb. While I love the turns and intensely intelligent twists in this story, I likewise love the poignant wit spoken from college kids but still in the vein of their illustrious ancestors.

The Taste of Ashes – Howard Browne – Written old school, this is classic 50’s crime writing. My favorite genre is noir mystery, and this deceased author is superb at it. I would love for the tone of this writing to creep into some of my work. His books are out of print, but I run them down through Amazon and antique book stores.

The first is contemporary and the second is dated, but I want both aspects of these books to find their way into my toolbox of talents.

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