It’s been a while, but after the election anxiety couldn’t we all use a good read? How about a good Martha Reed? Martha has just launched a new New Orleans-based series, and I know I’m ready. I missed my annual pilgrimage to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest back in April, and this particular adventure is long overdue! (Bouchercon is scheduled to return to NOLA in August ’21. Hope to see you all there!)

Tell us about your book!

Love Power is the first in my new Crescent City NOLA Mystery series introducing disgraced ex-police detective Jane Byrne who blows into New Orleans on her Ducati motorcycle looking for a fresh start, never expecting to uncover a hate crime serial killer targeting NOLA’s inclusive LGBTQ community.

Jane’s new landlords, Leslie and Ken Pascoe and Leslie’s Aunt Babette, a mediumistic voodoo queen offer Jane a haven. Ken is the sole surviving remnant of The WarBirds, an ’80’s one-hit wonder heavy metal band whose single stadium anthem mega hit “Love Power” was one of the first music videos produced for MTV.

At a surprise birthday party we meet Gigi Pascoe, Ken and Leslie’s transgender daughter and Gigi’s two BFFs. After one of her friends goes missing, Gigi’s concern turns to fear that their LGBTQ world is being targeted for hate crime violence when a second friend vanishes.

Dissatisfied with the NOPD force and local FBI bureau agency responses, Jane and Gigi team up only to discover that their united effort has refocused the serial killer’s hate-filled intent on them.

Why use New Orleans for your setting?

My Nantucket mystery series was conceived as a three-book set and when I finished “No Rest for the Wicked” (Book 3) I started casting around for a new location where my characters could get into trouble. MAt first, I thought about using Las Vegas, but then I attended the 2016 Bouchercon crime fiction writer’s convention and after three days in NOLA I realized New Orleans was a place where you could get into real trouble. In the end, NOLA won my heart and stole my vote. 

I also wanted to share NOLA’s jazzy insane excitement with my readers especially in our current environment when travelling is restricted.

Martha the Cafe du Monde, NOLA

Why did you decide to include LGBTQ characters?

In 2014, at another Bouchercon in Long Beach, California, I heard some great general discussion about the lack of diversity in the crime fiction/mystery genre and in our writerly community. A friend of mine noted that while the mystery world had made some strides into including under-represented voices, we still had a long way to go with the LGBTQ community.

As soon as she said that the omission seemed odd to me. She was right, so I decided to create characters who represented different aspects of the queer world, to give them a voice. Of course, once I did that, Love Power’s main themes of gender definition and fluidity and political empowerment automatically rose to the surface and they needed to be addressed.

One reviewer noted that Love Power offers the opportunity of “allowing us to see the characters for who they are, not what they are and keeping me enthralled at what transpired from beginning to a surprising end.” I’m over the moon with that observation. It tells me I did my job right.

Are you working on anything now?

Yes! I’m busily drafting “Street Angel,” Book 2 in the Crescent City NOLA Mysteries now with a goal of meeting a mid-2021 publication date with Buccaneer, my indie publishing imprint. Bouchercon 2021 is returning to NOLA. I’d love to have two books in this series ready for it.

“Street Angel” will offer its own set of dark themes which I can’t share because they’re huge spoilers. I am having great fun researching and writing it and if the FBI or Homeland Security is reading this blog I’ll admit right now that my browser history is probably suspicious. I am a writer. It can’t be helped.

Do you think your writing will be changed by the COVID-19 crisis?

I can see using the COVID lockdown to increase a story’s suspense. Trapped in a house with a killer is the very definition of a locked room or country house mystery. I don’t currently have any plans of using it although that may change depending on my future story needs. 

Is your process or routine different now?

Strangely, no. If I’m going to write a novel and put 85,000+ words down on the page, the process is the same as it’s always been. I show up every day, open my laptop, launch my manuscript, and get to work. My heart-felt sympathy goes out to those writers who are working from home while home-schooling the kids.

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when we’re free to be social again? 

I’m going to travel! New Orleans is at the top of my list plus I can’t wait to attend the mystery and crime fiction conferences like Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, and Killer Nashville in person again. Online attendance is a great option, but there’s nothing better than overhearing the creative, insightful conversations and topics being discussed in a hotel bar.

Want to read a sample? Click here.

Martha Reed is the Independent Publisher (“IPPY”) Book Award-winning crime fiction author of the John and Sarah Jarad Nantucket Mystery series. Love Power is the first book in her new Crescent City NOLA Mystery series featuring transgender sleuth Gigi Pascoe.

Martha is an active member of the Florida Gulf Coast and the Guppies chapters of Sisters in Crime, Inc., Mystery Writers of America (MWA) and in a moment of great folly at Bouchercon 2016 she joined the New Orleans Bourbon Society (N.O.B.S.) Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @ReedMartha or visit her website for more detail.