Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today: C.J. Baty loves a good mystery, hot sexy guys, the mountains, and a happily ever after. When she decided to try her hand in the book world, it only made sense to combine those things. She firmly believes that love is love in all of its shapes and forms. Her books contain broken spirits that need to be mended and a mystery, often a murder, which needs to be solved, so those spirits can find love. She calls southwest Ohio home, but her heart lives in the hills of Tennessee.
Thanks so much, C.J., for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: Do you ever base your characters on real people? If so, what are the pitfalls you’ve run into doing so?
C.J. Baty: Oh, yes! I didn’t have any pitfalls. They loved it. The Pinkerton Man book ‘Aces Up’ which is based on an old west poker game takes place in a saloon. All the women who worked in the saloon were based on the waitresses at my local Waffle House. They loved it! Most of them got murdered off and one of them was the killer in the story. I also used a usual customer, who goes by the name cowboy, as a US Marshall in the story. The waitresses all have copies autographed to their character in the book.
JSC: Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
CJB: Right now, I am more of a part-time writer. Not because I want it to be that way. I’m caring for my elderly (90’s) parents as well as moving my adult daughter back home for a short time. I gave up my home office to make room for everyone. And that’s okay! I have staked out a nice corner by a big picture window and I have wonderful headphones to shut out noise when I do want to write. Eventually life will become more of my own again. In the meantime, I keep a journal with ideas and plans for my future writing time.
JSC: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
CJB: Certainly, the most important must-have for me is the group of authors I’ve cultivated around me. They are my inspiration, my accountability group, my friends. I don’t think I could do this alone. Their input has helped me many times and I think I’ve helped them as well.
JSC: What’s the funniest or creepiest thing you’ve come across while researching for one of your stories?
CJB: In doing research for ‘Deep as the Ocean’ PM Book 4, I needed to know how to pierce the jugular vein with the least amount of blood splatter in the room. The answer was to stab the neck with a pillow in place. The pillow absorbed the blood spurts until the heart stopped beating.
JSC: What does success mean to you?
CJB: If people read my stories and love them as much as I do, I’ve been successful. Meeting readers at signing events will make my day every single time.
JSC: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
CJB: As a child, I wanted to be a teacher. As a young adult, I wanted desperately to go into journalism. As an adult, I homeschooled both of my children for a time and found it very rewarding. And though I didn’t get to go to college for journalism (or at all really), I still carried the need to tell a story throughout my life. Now, I write what I want to read.
JSC: What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
CJB: Before I retired, I worked as an assistant to a VP of Lending in a Credit Union. I was there close to 20 years. The complexity of computer programs, behind the scenes dealing, the ‘Good Ole’ Boy’ mentality of the employees, and the complexity of affairs in the office, have all given me ideas for books over the years. I also have a book coming out next year about embezzlement which is loosely based on things I learned there.
JSC: What fantasy realm would you choose to live in and why?
CJB: I think I’d like to live in the Fae realm. It just always seemed like their emotions were heightened to the point of living on the edge constantly. Maybe that doesn’t explain it right. They feel love deeper. Hate manifests itself in powerful reactions. Not always in murder. Revenge seems to taste sweeter in their world. Passion is expressed freely with no holds barred. Humans tend to keep their emotions bottled up and those that do release them are often seen as something other than human. I’m not saying there should be mayhem. Not at all. Just the freedom to be who we truly are without condemnation from others.
JSC: What’s your drink of choice?
CJB: If I’m not drinking Mt. Dew Zero, I’ve got a cup of coffee in my hand.
JSC: What are you working on now, and what’s coming out next? Tell us about it!
CJB: I have two current WIP’s. One is the next book (7) in the Pinkerton Man Series. Stiles and Michael are back home and settling into their lives but are suddenly two of the most eligible bachelors in St. Louis. They find themselves being invited to dinners and parties where mama’s are looking for husbands for their daughters abound. The Fairchild daughters are enigma’s for both men. Something just doesn’t sit right about the wealthy family. And, when they are invited to a birthday celebration at the Fairchild’s country estate… murder raises it’s ugly head once again.
I’m also working on a new story for my other pen name, Catherine Marcum. It’s a seasoned romance about a writer starting life over in her families old home. This is a experience for me, writing female leads over 45 finding love or second chances at love. These ladies will have adventures and are of a mind that they don’t need a man but having one in their beds occasionally is a good thing.
And now for C.J.’s new book: Not Again:
Lizzie Ferguson is not a typical 1912 woman.
Owner of the E.M. Ferguson Detective Agency, she prefers to live life outside of society’s norm – both in and out of the bedroom – which leads to complications when she finds herself attracted to her beautiful assistant, Julia Straton, and an arrogant, yet devastatingly handsome journalist named Walton Crew. But who has time for romance when there are murders to solve?
Her newest case is eerily similar to one from the past. Male brothel workers are being butchered, so she calls on old friends and Pinkerton detectives, Michael O’Leary and Stiles Long, to help track down the killer. Working together, the three friends race against the clock to prevent more blood from being shed, but when all is said and done, will the citizens of New York City accept Lizzie for who she is?
La Rue’s was one of Lizzie’s favorite places to have lunch. The staff recognized her when she came through the lobby doors. Renaldo led her to her favorite table in the far east corner of the room.
“Your guest is waiting for you,” he said.
Walton Crew rose from his seat as she approached. He was a striking figure of a man. Several inches taller than Lizzie, dressed in a pale gray suit with a bright white shirt and a navy-blue tie. His hair was hard to describe. The closest Lizzie could think of was teak, like wood. Brown with glorious golden-brown streaks through the wavy hair. It touched his collar, not the current style, but still Lizzie thought it looked good on him. His eyes were amber and showed intelligence. Lizzie liked him… until he spoke.
“You’re a woman.”
Renaldo coughed as he seated Lizzie at the table.
“Why my goodness, I am. Is that a problem for you, Mr. Crew?” she asked, then turned to Renaldo.
“I’ll have my usual with an extra drop of rum today. I think I’m going to need it.”
Renaldo blushed to his hairline, nodded, and hurried away to get her coffee.
“Rum for lunch. Just what kind of woman are you, Miss Ferguson? It is Miss, isn’t it?” Walton Crew was getting on her nerves quickly.
“That doesn’t have anything to do with this interview. It is Miss,” Lizzie answered. Then added, “You’re not what I expected either.”
“What did you expect, Miss Ferguson?” he said with a smirk on his face.
“I expected someone mature and businesslike.”
Renaldo sat her coffee on the table by her elbow. She lifted the hot brew to her lips and noticed the intoxicating aroma of the rum as she took the first sip. It tasted heavenly. Letting the tension continue to brew between herself and this insufferable man, she sipped at her coffee again.
“What am I doing here?” he eventually asked.
“I’m investigating the disappearance of a young man. He frequented some establishments in the East Row.” She let her words settle on him. He couldn’t hide his surprise.
“You!” His voice was a little too gruff for this café.
“Lower your voice,” she demanded.
“You shouldn’t even know of the East Row, much less investigating the area. It’s a dangerous place. But a woman there would be so out of place they’d all go running for cover.” He clearly thought Lizzie was out of her mind.
“Mr. Crew, if it matters, I was a Pinkerton Agent for four years before I opened my agency. I am well aware of dangers in the world and how to manage myself in those areas,” Lizzie said flatly. “The Agency was forward thinking in realizing that a woman is just as capable as a man doing this job. What you think of a woman doesn’t matter to me at all. What I need is your cooperation and answers to questions that I have. If that is going to be a problem for you, then this meeting is over.”
Lizzie signaled to Renaldo and grabbed several bills from inside her purse. She left it open on the table so that Mr. Crew could see the revolver she carried with her at all times.
His eyebrows shot up, though he said nothing when he noticed the gun.
Renaldo took the money and thanked her before he slipped away.
Rising from her seat, Mr. Crew did the same. Stepping around the table, he pulled her chair out as she stood. Looking up into those amber eyes, she again thought how handsome the man was. Too bad, he was insufferable.
He walked beside Lizzie as they exited the café, opening the door for her as well.
“I’m sorry this meeting got off to a poor start,” he said. “Clearly I’ve misjudged you.”
“Indeed,” was the only word Lizzie offered.
“Might I suggest dinner as my way of making it up to you,” he said.
Lizzie had to give him credit for the apology and the invitation. What she wouldn’t do is accept either.
“I’m afraid I’m busy this evening. You may call at the office Thursday afternoon if you have any information about the articles you wrote on the deaths in East Row. Good day Mr. Crew.”
It gave her immense pleasure to toss her skirts at the man and head back to her office. And she gave him credit for not following after her.