How about a little paranormal chill with your mystery? I'm proud to welcome Dr. Randy Overbeck, award-winning author of the Haunted Shores Mystery series. I'm in the middle of reading his latest mystery Scarlet at Crystal River. It almost has me sleeping with a light on! It's evocative, suspenseful, and sweetly romantic all at once -- an amazing combination!
I invite you to more about the talented author, his books, and his podcast.
Dr. Overbeck, thank you for joining us today.
1) What sort of books did you enjoy reading as a child? Did you have a favorite book or series?
I was an early reader—my mother told me I was able to read by the age of three—and I read a little bit of everything, mystery, adventure, science fiction, poetry, and fantasy.
2) What sort of books do you enjoy reading nowadays?
I’m a very eclectic reader today and have favorite authors in several different genres—thrillers, mysteries of course, stirring historicals and some science fiction. I’ve even been known to engage in a little romantic suspense from time to time.
3) Around what age did you realize that you liked to write? And when did you know that you wanted to write books?
I’ve been interested in writing for as long as I can remember. During high school, I took a great Creative Writing class that really excited me and I thought I might want to try my hand as a professional author. Then my pull to serve kids as an educator hit me and I became a teacher and school leader for 40 years. Eve then, I never lost my desire to tell stories and become a published author. When my life gave me time to pursue it, I took advantage of it and, now five published novels and ten national awards later, I’ve been able to realize my dream.
That you placed dedication to education and children above your dreams is truly inspiring. That you never gave up and have achieved your dream after years of dedication and service is even more so. How wonderful.
4) What’s the first thing you wrote that you remember being proud of?
During high school I wrote a mystery short story that I thought was pretty good, but what did I know?
5) Tell us about the creative force within you. What inspires you to write, to create?
Writing has always been a major part of my life and profession, as a teacher, a college professor and a school leader. So I’ve been creating and writing right up to and including a hundred plus page dissertation. When I had the time and chance, it was a natural move to turn my writing talent and skills to fiction. I find I have more stories within me that are simply begging to come out. I find I hardly have enough time to cast the characters in the worlds I’m creating.
6) What’s your writing space like?
I’m very fortunate in that when my wife and I designed our new house about five years ago, I carved out a really nice office of about 150 square feet. It has an expansive L-shaped desk, a large screen monitor (for my older eyes), a printer, a file cabinet and a beautiful six-shelf bookcase—which is never big enough. There is even a bed if I decide I need to take a break. Perhaps, best of all, from the desk, I have a beautiful view through three windows of our neighborhood pond and the surrounding woods, which are absolutely gorgeous in the fall. It’s a space that very welcoming and inspirational.
What a great space!
7) Do you have a favorite time of day to write? Any habits or little rituals that put you in a writing mindset?
Partly as a result of my habits as a district leader, I learned to take any time I was given to get my tasks done, In those days, there never seemed to be enough time and I always seemed to have plenty of distractions. These days, I’ve been able to continue that habit and seize any time I have a few minutes to write, edit and revise. I write while waiting while my car is worked on, while my wife is doing her physical therapy and while she is shopping. Most days, though, I start my day with 90-120 minutes of writing.
8) Time to talk about Scarlet at Crystal River (rubbing hands together). But first, how did you come up with the idea for the Haunted Shores Mystery series? Are there any interesting tidbits you’d care to share with us?
For all three entries in the Haunted Shores Mysteries, I started with a great resort location, invented a mysterious cold-case murder, added in a little woo-hoo and tied it to a larger social issue. Then, for fun, I added a bit of romance with the arc running through all three novels. Scarlet at Crystal River is the third installment in the series and is set in a beautiful, old Florida town on the Gulf coast. (Yes, a real town.) The romance plays a larger part in this story as my protagonist, Darrell—high school social studies teacher and researcher and sensitive—and his beautiful wife Erin are off to celebrate their honeymoon during the Christmas holidays in the Florida sun. But problems develop when Darrell is stalked by the ghosts of two murdered Latino children who beg him to find justice. The investigation takes Darrell and Erin into the rolling heartland of Florida, full of massive farms and hundreds of migrant workers, trying to learn who these children were and what happened to them. Their inquiries lead them to a real world-famous artist, to school people working with migrant children to wealthy land owners and hard-working foremen as well as to an immigrant camp. Let’s just say the happenings produce a honeymoon unlike anything Darrell and Erin were expecting.
It's a thrilling novel and I, for one -- especially given the chill factor and suspense -- especially appreciate the lovely romance!
9) You also have another literary outlet, your wonderful podcast Great Stories About Great Storytellers. I could listen all day. I have to say I especially loved the episode about Emily Dickinson, a favorite poet of mine since childhood.
My podcast, Great Stories about Great Storytellers, shares the little-known back stories of famous writers, directors and poets listeners already know. So far I’ve revealed interesting, unusual and sometimes strange details about the lives, work and writings of such great as Charles Dickens, John Grisham, Walt Disney, Ray Bradbury and yes, Emily Dickinson. Each episode is quick listen, about 10-12 minutes, and listeners come away with interesting tidbits about some of their favorite storytellers.
10) I realize you are a very busy man! Still, I can’t help but ask – do you have anything waiting in the wings?
Of course, I always have another project around the corner. I just finished proofing my latest work and giving the go ahead to the publisher. Cruel Lessons, the first in a new series I’m calling Lessons in Peril, is an amateur sleuth mystery about a dangerous new hallucinogen which falls into the hands of some young children (fifth graders) and end up resulting in their deaths. This series feature two middle-age protagonists, Stacy, an elementary teacher and Ken, a school administrator. These two are thrown together and risk death threats and prison to figure out who the drug pusher is before he (or she) poisons more children.
Oh, wow! SUSPENSE!
11) Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
As you probably gathered, I’m a full-blooded educator and I believe teachers are real unsung heroes, especially with all they are expected to accomplish today. So it should come as no surprise that all of my stories, from thrillers to paranormal mysteries to my new amateur sleuth whodunit, are set in the realm of public school and all of the heroes of my fiction are…you guessed it, teachers. Just my way of saluting the incredible, unselfish and often unrecognized work done by great teachers everyday.
That's wonderful. Where would we be without teachers? Cheers to you, Dr. Overbeck, and to educators everywhere.
Thank you for sharing your time and mission with us. Wishing you all the best!
And now, Scarlet at Crystal River!
From the Author: My Favorite Character
My new release, SCARLET AT CRYSTAL RIVER, like the first two in the Haunted Shores Mysteries, is “a cold case murder mystery wrapped in a ghost story served with a side of romance, all set in a beautiful resort location.”
Special thanks to the early reviewer who coined this perfect summation.) Also, like the first two entries, the murder (or in this case murders) are entangled with a larger social issue, this time the abuse of migrant workers and the whole debate on immigration. I thought it was important, then, to have a central character who was in fact a migrant and who could speak from an immigrant perspective.
I created Luis Alvarez, a twenty-something recent immigrant who helps my protagonist navigate the world of immigrant laborers. But since this character was far out of my personal experience, I needed to be careful to be sure my portrayal was accurate, neither patronizing nor derogatory. It was a major challenge. Needless to say, I had a good deal of assistance in everything from translation to dialect to culture. In the end, I’m satisfied and early reviews have spoken quite well of this character portrayal. I’m now waiting to see how my readers respond—to the story and Luis’ place in it.
Darrell and Erin head to Florida for a carefree honeymoon but, once there, are haunted by the ghosts of two immigrant children, who plead for help.
All Darrell Henshaw wanted was to enjoy his honeymoon with his beautiful wife, Erin, in the charming town of Crystal River on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida. Only a pair of ghosts decide to intrude on their celebration. And not just any ghosts, the spirits of two young Latino children. Unwilling at first to derail the honeymoon for yet another ghost hunt, Darrell finally concedes when a painting of the kids comes alive, weeping and pleading for his help.
When he and Erin track down the artist, they discover the children’s family were migrant workers the next county over. But when they travel there, their questions about the kids gets their car shot up and Erin hospitalized. Torn between fear and rage, Darrell must decide how far he will go to get justice for two young children he never even knew.
Darrell started, “Like I said back there, it’s complicated. We—”
Erin’s side window exploded. The fractured glass shot slivers across the front seat. The sound of an explosion followed a beat behind. Erin screamed. Something stung Darrell’s right arm. He grabbed a cut on his skin and then looked across the seat. Damn. Erin’s arm was bleeding, bad.
He couldn’t breathe. “Erin?” He stared at her for a second and then jerked his gaze back to the road and straightened the car.
Something hit the rear window. Luis yelped. The glass shattered and a second later, another crack followed. Luis fell forward. Was he hit? Darrell’s gaze jumped from the road to Erin to the back seat. Luis had fallen to the floor. Darrell couldn’t see him.
“Luis?” Erin called.
Dragging his eyes from the road, Darrell shot another glance at Erin. Her entire arm was now turning red, the edge of her short sleeve wicking up the scarlet. The fingers of her left hand gripped tight around her right arm, the knuckles turning white. The blood still seeped through.
Dragging his eyes from Erin for a second, he turned in his seat to try to look[…]”
About the Author
Dr. Randy Overbeck is a best-selling author of the award-winning series, The Haunted Shores Mysteries, each a cold case murder mystery wrapped in ghost story served with a side romance, set in a beautiful resort location. He is the host of a new podcast, “Great Stories about Great Storytellers,” which reveals the unusual backstories of famous authors, directors and poets. He is also a speaker in much demand, sharing his multi-media presentations, “Thanks Still Go Bump in the Night” and “A Few Favorite Haunts” with audiences all over the country. More info about his novels, programs and podcast can be found at his website www.authorrandyoverbeck.com.
One thing that is particularly special about Overbeck’s books is that they unabashedly tackle social issues within their plots. “Scarlet at Crystal River” forces readers to confront…the dangers of racism and xenophobia. ★★★★★—ReaderViews
This is another masterpiece from Randy Overbeck. His excellent writing style has left me speechless for one more time. He writes in a way that makes you feel what the characters feel and you have no choice but to partake in the journey with them.”★★★★★—Ioanna’s Reviews, Greece
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A Little of This, a Little of That
Keep me away from the wisdom that does not cry, the philosophy that does not laugh, and the greatness which does not bow before children. – Gibran Khalil Gibran
From me to you with a smile.
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