Ruth McCarty is a force of nature. A past president of Sisters in Crime, she’s one of the founders of the New England Crime Bake, our annual celebration of all things mystery. Plus, she’s a founding editor of Level Best Books, which publishes an annual anthology of New England (and New England-related) short crime fiction (yes, I’ve had a few stories in there!). What I didn’t know was that Ruth, a master of the short story, was working on a full-length series. I’ll let her tell you more…
How does a book/story start for you?
Tess Gerritsen once said she doesn’t write about what she knows, she writes about what bothers her. I write about the missing. My cousin’s niece, Kari Nixon, disappeared and was later found murdered. Then Molly Bish disappeared from a lake not to far from where I live and was later found murdered. Sarah Pryor – found murdered. The list is endless. This bothers me big time. So, I write about Madison McKenzie whose daughter has gone missing. Madison will do anything to find her daughter and to bring other missing cases to closure or better yet, to bring the missing home.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a second book in my missing series, Gone Missing. (My literary agent, Paula Munier, is shopping my first, Presumed Missing) While researching where a body would end up on Cape Cod if it was dumped in Lewis Bay, I came across a real unsolved murder in Provincetown, MA, The Lady of the Dunes, and may have found out her identity. The trooper in charge of her cold case thought the similarities such as weight, height, age and facial reconstruction were close enough to request her dental records from the Michigan Department of Corrections. Unfortunately, the trooper can’t discuss the case with me and has recently been reassigned. I’ve also been in contact with the Provincetown Police Department and they agree the likeness is uncanny.
Who in your latest book has surprised you most – and why?
My protagonist, Madison McKenzie, is attending a community college to get her private investigators license. While naming her professor, I checked the internet to see if there was a real professor by that name, Dr. Bruce Jackson, and found there was and he had taken his students to the Lady of the Dunes grave to test for DNA, just as I had planned for my professor. I changed his name, and have him taking his students to the Lady’s grave to test for Touch DNA. Very strange coincidence.
When and/or where is your latest book set and is there a story behind that setting?
Gone Missing, takes place mostly in Provincetown, MA, but the series is set in Lewiston Bay, a fictional setting somewhere near Hyannis, a small town where Madison McKenzie helps find the missing. Everything about the Cape, from the crashing waves, the close-knit communities, the back streets and characters who live there make for the perfect setting.
Which question didn’t I ask you that I should have?
I guess I would have to say: Is there a third book planned in your series?
Child Missing is the title of my third book. Stores today have Code Adam, in memory of six-year-old Adam Walsh who was tragically abducted from a department store and later found murdered. Before Code Adam, the department stores would announce over the loudspeaker that a child was missing. I, like my protagonist wants to save the missing.
Ruth McCarty’s short mysteries have appeared in Level Best Books anthologies, Flash Bang Mysteries, Kings River Life Magazineand Over My Dead Body! The Mystery Magazine Online.She won the 2009 Derringer Award given by the Short Mystery Fiction Society for her story “No Flowers for Stacey” published in Deadfall: Crime Stories by New England Writers.She is former editor at Level Best Books, a past president of SinCNE, a member of MWA and a founding member of the New England Crime Bake. For more information about missing children, she suggests: http://api.missingkids.org/home