Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mary Deal and her latest release The Howling Cliffs: A Sara Mason Mystery

Mary Deal

Mary Deal and her latest release The Howling Cliffs: A Sara Mason Mystery

  The Howling Cliffs: A Sara Mason Mystery

This is the 2nd book in the series.  The first one is River Bones: A Mystery Novel

Tell us about your newest release:

My latest is The Howling Cliffs – A Sara Mason Mystery. It’s the 1st sequel to River Bones, which garnered two major awards.

What is the story about?

If I may, since the lives of the characters will follow through each sequel (though each story is a stand-alone story):
Follow Sara Mason as she becomes involved in another cold case in this first sequel to River Bones.
From the River Bones story, Sara is stalked by a psychopathic killer in California’s Sacramento River Delta. She meets Huxley Keane, the love of her life, and then loses him. But Sara and Huxley have built a history together, she having learned that he searches for the remains of his brother and the daughter of their mutual friend, Esmerelda, among other MIAs in Vietnam. Later, Sara agrees to become a decoy for the Sheriff’s Department and falls into the clutches of the elusive madman who leaves no live witnesses as human skeletons keep turning up.
In this story, The Howling Cliffs, Sara and Huxley are deep in the jungle in Vietnam where they find one MIA’s meager remains. As Huxley flies back to the United States to get them identified, Sara becomes involved in a cold case on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Knowing someone wants to put an end to her investigations to keep a cold case cold, and tries to kill her to do it, leads to a half-crazed homicidal maniac who is just sane enough to keep suspicion off himself.

 Who is the main character?

Sara Mason, approaching mid-life with new-found curiosity, zest for her renewed life and determined to help others have a metamorphosis they deserved.

     What inspired this tale?

Unsolved cold cases of missing persons. The only reason some cases do not get solved is due to shortage of personnel, with officers and others rushing through cases and unable to investigate even the skimpiest of  clues

How did the story come to you?

After River Bones, I wanted to give Sara Mason another cold case to solve. I wanted to set it on Kauai where I lived at the time. Since River Bones dealt with cold cases of adults, I decided to make Sara’s new case that of a missing child. After having written River Bones, I realized that the subplot for Huxley Keane, her love interest, could not have been wrapped up in one book. He searches for his MIA brother in Vietnam. Serendipitously, I met a former Marine who had been stationed at Marble Mountain near Da Nang in Vietnam. He supplied me with so much information it was mind-boggling. Then I knew I could carry Huxley’s subplot forward. 

Did you have to research for this novel and if so, why?  

Oh yes. Most of my research was for the Vietnam portions of the story. Then I ran the information by the former Marine who either agreed or told me what to correct. I didn’t have to research anything about Kauai since I lived there, but I did also research on the condition of the child (without giving away any of the story surprises here).  

If you did research, what do you think surprised you most to learn and why?  

Many of the MIAs may never be found. The soil in Vietnam is extremely acidic, after decades it will have absorbed even the tiniest bone fragment or hardened tooth. All that may be found are the metal dog tags and maybe a wedding ring or other metal.  

Do you relate to your character?  Is your protagonist anything like you personally?  

I’m sure in most of the stories I write, I put some of my personality into my protagonists, except the real loony characters, like in some of my short stories. But then, maybe that’s still part of me coming out.  

If yes, then how?  

Morally, ethically and when right decisions need be made, I believe my own judgment goes into that. However, if I need to conjure characters doing something crazy or anything I’ve never done, then I play out the gestalt in front of my PC, sometimes in front of a mirror, just to hear the dialogue or see the gestures that I need to give that character.  

What made you write this character; what made them important to you or made you want to tell their story?  

The original River Bones story was a combination of two plots that never went anywhere. When I went back to my childhood hometown area for a class reunion, a friend suggested I set a story there and... BOOM! The two plots came together. The story included a woman who returns to her childhood hometown area to fulfill a dream of buying and restoring an old Victorian along the river – something I wished I could do. I had great fun living that plot with my protagonist carrying out my dream. However, the story had to be more than just remodeling a spooky old Victorian that was said to be haunted. The other plot was a mystery so I turned the combined plots into a thriller. From there, I loved Sara Mason so much I decided to give her further life in sequels. That brought me to The HowlingCliffs.  

Is there anything you specifically want readers to know about this piece of work?

These Sara Mason mysteries carry dual plots, that of Sara Mason solving cold cases (which makes each book a stand-alone story) and that of her love interest, Huxley Keane, searching for his MIA brother. And yes, in The Howling Cliffs, the story opens with Sara and Esmerelda, another prominent character, deep in the Vietnam jungle along with Huxley and the Veteran search team.  

When will the novel be available for purchase?  Has the book already been published?  

The Howling Cliffs was first published in 2012 though I did not promote it. I was in a hurry because I was preparing to move from one island to another and then suffered an illness. By the time I got back to work, I realized The Howling Cliffs could have been a better story, so I set about rewriting it. The Howling Cliffs was just re-released in eBook and will go to paperback soon.  

If yes, do you have a link available for buying it?  

You can connect with Mary Deal at:, Party Favors, and Toys from the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s


  1. Thank you for interviewing me, Sahara Foley. Your blog is magnificent, neat and uncluttered. You have spread the word about this interview far and wide. I woke this morning to pages of emails showing me who on Twitter and other sites had picked up your post about this blog and passed it on. This is amazing promotion for anyone you interview. You've done a magnificent job. I don't image that is the end of the promotion because soon as I cleared by Inbox, more Tweets kept popping up and all have reference to this blog and my name. I am so grateful.

  2. I'm just so glad you like it. Just my small part to hep us indie authors. :)