FIVE QUESTIONS ... with Marcy McCreary
Welcome to FIVE QUESTIONS. In this feature on my blog, you'll learn about new and exciting books from the author's themselves. You'll hear about the book, their characters, the inspiration behind the book, and other insider details. All through five simple questions.
Today, we are hearing from Marcy McCreary about her new novel THE MURDER OF MADISON GARCIA, available starting today.
What is your new book about?
THE MURDER OF MADISON GARCIA is a contemporary police procedural that pairs a by-the-book female detective with her by-the-gut father (a retired detective) and takes place in the Catskills region of New York—The Borscht Belt—where the old storied hotels once dotted the landscape. It is the second book in a three-book standalone series, “The Ford Family Mystery Series.”
Detective Susan Ford notices a missed call on her phone from a number she doesn’t recognize, and when Madison Garcia, a woman with past ties to the town of Monticello, New York, is found stabbed to death the next morning, Susan realizes that Madison was the one who had called her. But why? Susan teams up with her father, retired Detective Will Ford, to find the killer, and their investigation soon threatens to uncover Madison's family’s secrets—a disputed inheritance, money laundering, extramarital affairs, an accidental death, and family rivalries—and her family is not too keen on the Fords digging into their lives. As the investigation deepens, the Fords discover that Madison was planning to confess to a long-kept secret. But someone brutally silenced her before she had a chance to reveal what it was, making nearly everyone she knew a suspect in her murder.
What was the inspiration for the story?
Whenever I read a news story or hear about a strange experience or even personally experience a seemingly ordinary event, my mind always goes to “what if…” Sometimes that “what if” moment becomes the seed of a story. One day I received a call and the display read “Caller Unknown” along with a phone number. I didn’t answer, but I was curious. So I did a reverse lookup and the number was associated with a man who lived in Cleveland, Ohio. I then went to his Facebook page to see if it was someone I knew (or had a connection to me in some way), but his page was private, so I went no further (I guess I could have kept sleuthing on LinkedIn or Twitter, but I wasn’t that curious). End of story, right? Except that got me thinking . . . what if? What if . . . a detective got a “Caller Unknown” call, and did what I did. Reverse lookup, find a name, come to a dead end on Facebook, and shrug it off. Then I thought . . . what if the next morning the detective is called to a murder scene and the victim is the Unknown Caller who called the night before. Eureka! I just conceived the inciting incident for THE MURDER OF MADISON GARCIA. Detective Susan Ford shrugs off unknown caller who turns out to be the victim of a murder. If Susan had picked up the phone, would this woman still be alive? And why did this woman call Susan in the first place? I thought it was an intriguing setup and the story unfolded from there.
What was the hardest scene to write?
More so than any particular scene, the journal entries written by the murdered character, Madison Garcia, presented the biggest writing challenge. I needed these little snippets to convey a flawed, but relatable character. And, at the same time, I wanted these journal entries to poignantly draw out the novel's themes of remorse and forgiveness. Finding her voice and building suspense through those vignettes took several drafts, even well into the developmental editing stage. I wanted the reader to follow her journey of awakening guilt, remorse, and redemption, so it was imperative that these reflective pieces not only provide clues to her murder, but insight into her life.
What is the most interesting or unusual thing you learned while researching the book?
There is a pretty complex money laundering scheme in the story, and my knowledge of money laundering starts and ends with the Netflix series, Ozark. So, I hit the Internet to understand how different schemes work, the terminology, how law enforcement cracks these cases (follow the money!), and spoke with a lawyer about how these cases are tried.
What would you consider the key theme(s) of this book?
Themes of guilt, redemption, and forgiveness are played out in both the main plot (figuring out who killed Madison Garcia) and the subplot (the strained relationship between Will and Vera).
Guilt is a central theme in this story, namely how it eats at you (or doesn’t) and the path one takes to either relieve the burden of guilt or figure out a way to live with it. In the main plot, Madison Garcia is consumed with guilt and, with her decision to clear her conscience, pays the ultimate price. In the subplot, Vera Ford is dealing with the fallout after telling Will how she betrayed him years ago.
Madison is on her own journey to redemption as she contemplates revealing a long-buried secret. She feels stuck in a way that can only be fixed by admitting what she did and taking responsibility for her past actions. Susan’s mother, Vera, is also seeking redemption. In this second book in the Ford Family Mystery series, Vera makes good on her promise to Susan to attend Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and confess to Will her role in the Trudy Solomon case. She is hellbent on proving to Will and Susan that she is worthy of their forgiveness.
While Madison is seeking forgiveness from herself for what she did, Will has to make peace with a duplicitous act committed by his ex-wife, Vera. Susan has made the decision to forgive her mother, but Will has to decide if what she did is even forgivable.
You can purchase THE MURDER OF MADISON GARCIA at the following retailers.