Sue Grafton writes female P.I. mysteries. Clive Cussler writes adventure thrillers. They, like most successful writers, have found their so-called niche in the writing world. Wisely, they stick to it.
After eight Regency romances and one wagon train saga, my niche was definitely historicals. Then the plot for Deadly Gamble
popped into my head and wouldn’t go away. A haunted casino in Las Vegas—skeptical heroine in very big trouble—deadly séance—gruesome death of a porn star—unguessable twist in the plot. How could I resist? I broke the unwritten rule and faced the perils of switching genres.
There were challenges. Fast forward 200 years from the elegant high society of Regency England, to the glitzy informality of a Las Vegas casino. Fashions—manners—morals—society itself—everything’s different. In 1813, find a husband topped every single young lady’s “things to do” list. If she didn’t, she’d end up a disgraced old spinster, dependent upon relatives for support. That’s not to say marriage isn’t important in 2015, but let’s face it, not so much. In Deadly Gamble, Kristi just got out of a bad marriage. She’s much more interested in climbing the corporate ladder than finding another man—at least for now—and has far more important problems to deal with.
One thing for sure, I had to be just as accurate with my contemporary story as with my historicals. Even though my imagination ran wild in Deadly Gamble with such things as ghostly voices, powerful spells, etc., there were some areas where I couldn’t just make it up. Before I wrote my first disaster scene, I had to determine if there was such a thing as a deadly escalator accident. Searching the Internet, I was amazed at how many accidents there have been, many of them fatal mishaps with causes ranging from “suddenly reversed direction” to “the victims fell into the gaping hole.” Old newspaper accounts told me exactly how and why the accident happened—very handy indeed for writing my descriptions.
The same with my fatal waterbed scene. First, I had to find out if anyone had actually been killed in a waterbed. Again, an Internet search told me yes, it has happened more than once, and from various causes, one of which I used in the book.
After Deadly Gamble, I switched back to another western saga and wrote Wagon Train Cinderella. There’s so much going on along the Overland Trail, I couldn’t resist. Should I have stuck to my original genre, Regency romances? Looking back, I suppose for the sake of my career I should have stuck to writing Regencies. On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed writing about Indian raids–buffalo stampedes, dangerous river crossings and all the other excitement that goes with a wagon train traveling the overland Trail. On second thought, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I’m happy to announce my Las Vegas mystery, Deadly Gamble, is now available on Amazon Kindle for just 99 cents. Inkspell Press has put several of its books on sale for a short time, so I hope you’ll take a look soon. This contemporary novel contains a mystery with a twist, as well as a bit of early Las Vegas history that fits into the story. See Deadly Gamble on Amazon
All novels are about someone with a problem. No problem = no plot = a very dull book indeed. In my years of writing Regency romances, my heroines’ problems reflected the time in which they lived. In my first book, poor, crippled Meg was a servant in fear of being dismissed from her job “without a character.” (Through no fault of her own, of course.) That meant she’d either be out on the streets or headed for the workhouse, a dreadful place where “there were eight or ten beds in each room, retentive of all scents and very productive of vermin.” My subsequent Regency heroines had to contend with everything from the all-important search for a husband, to a father who gambled the family fortune away, to a brother sentenced to hang for what today would be considered a minor white-collar crime. Fast forward two hundred years. After producing a steady stream of historicals, I got a great idea for a haunted casino mystery/romance. It just popped into my head and wouldn’t go away. So for the first time I plotted a contemporary romance in a setting far removed from the stuffy manners and morals of Regency England. Deadly Gamble is set in glitzy, cutting-edge Las Vegas, Nevada, 2014. To say Kristi Andrews, my heroine, faces a different set of problems would be an understatement. Unlike the women of the Regency, her one big goal in life is definitely not to find a husband. When the story begins, she just got out of a bad marriage and plans to focus on her new career at the Parthenon Hotel/Casino. Of course, human nature being what it is, no matter what the century, a new man in her life soon appears in the form of Mike Garvey, famed historian/author (his line of work ties in with the mystery.) As the plot progresses, Kristi’s “problem” reaches momentous proportions. Forgive a bit of a brag here, but I love a story that contains seemingly unrelated threads that all come together in the end. That’s true of Deadly Gamble. I hope I’ve kept the reader guessing almost to the very last. History lover that I am, I couldn’t entirely ignore the past. One of the threads in the book involves the history of Las Vegas. It’s hard to envision Sin City before the casinos—the Strip—all the glitz and glamour, but while researching, I did just that. Who knows that beginning around 1821, travelers on the old Santa Fe Trail passed directly through what is now the City of Las Vegas? It was all cactus and sand back then with one exception: after a hard trek across the desert, pack trains loaded with goods for Los Angeles stopped at a beautiful green oasis, a site just west of what is now downtown. Early Spanish explorers named it “Las Vegas” which means “grassy meadows.” There, amidst cottonwood trees and lush greenery, two pools of clear, cool water greeted the weary travelers. The pools were perfect for swimming. Bubbling waters from Artesian springs beneath kept the swimmers so buoyant they couldn’t drown even if they wanted to. It’s all in the book (I couldn’t resist), so for a bit of history, a look into behind-the-scenes Las Vegas, an intriguing romance, and a heroine with a very, very big problem, I hope you’ll take a look at Deadly Gamble.
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