A Q&A WITH BE AFRAID AUTHOR MARY BURTON . . .
Welcome, Mary, and thanks for joining us!
Your last book, Cover Your Eyes, was the first of four featuring the three brothers and sister that make up the Morgan family—all in law enforcement as was their father—and it became a USA Today bestseller in its first week on sale. How exciting was that?
Very! I’m always a little anxious to see if readers like a new book, especially if, like Cover Your Eyes, it’s the first of several connected stories. I have to say, though, that even more exciting and rewarding is the response I received from readers in person and online. The fact that so many took the time to comment on the siblings and family as well as the plot means a lot. I enjoy these characters so much and do want them to resonate with readers. Can’t wait to hear what they think of BE AFRAID and Rick and Jenna.
Where do Rick and Jenna they fit in with the other characters?
Well, Rick’s a Morgan and, like his brothers and sister, has been drawn into the world of law enforcement in large part due to his legendary detective father’s life and legacy. Rick is the second oldest of the brothers and when we leave him at the close of Cover Your Eyes he’s at the tail end of his recovery from a gunshot wound received in the line of duty. In BE AFRAID, he’s back on the force but has moved to the Homicide Unit. Jenna, who once lived in Nashville but left at an early age, has only a tentative connection to the city. A forensic artist on leave from her job with the Baltimore Police Department, Jenna’s keeping some secrets, in particular the reason behind her return.
So what brings them together?
Their connection begins after an unidentified child’s body is found. A pink blanket, teeth and records showing a thirty year time line for the body to have been concealed are all authorities have to go on. Jenna, well known for her skill in facial reconstruction, is the department’s best hope of identifying the victim. Rick and his partner have caught both cases. As Rick spends time with Jenna he becomes more and more intrigued with her and with why she’s so silent about her past. He’s a detective, so you know what he does next. He starts poking his nose into Jenna’s history, uncovering shocking details as well as unexpected connections, not only to the two murders, but to Jenna’s childhood.
Tell us a bit about facial reconstruction, please. Is it computer generated? Done with clay? I know the Bones fans among us sometimes see it done on that show by character Angela Montenegro.
Jenna starts with a clean sample, which means the bone has been stripped of any flesh and is ready to accept the clay she uses to create muscle and flesh. She works with clay, paints and sculpting tools. She covers the skull with rubber plugs that indicate skin depth. Imagination plays a role as she begins to visualize the muscles that band across a human face, giving it shape and depth, and skin, hair and eyes. Jenna’s craft is as much art as it is science as she weaves her knowledge of biology with her artistic skills.
How do the other Morgan’s fit into the story?
Well, Deke’s now head of Homicide so he’s keeping tabs on progress in the case and checking in frequently with Rick and also with Georgia, who’s in Forensics and deeply involved as well. We get to find out more about Georgia professionally and she’s the one who campaigns with both the department and Jenna to bring her on board. Alex, who’s an agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, is only peripherally involved in the cases, but is the catalyst when a long-simmering family issue comes to a head and threatens to drive a permanent wedge between him and Rick. We spend time with Rachel, too. A woman she’s defending is a victim of rape and Jenna has offered to create a sketch of the suspect. Oh, and as the story opens, we meet KC, Deke’s former partner, and find out he’s retired and taken over Rudy’s bar, so we catch up a bit with him and doings there. Turns out, even before Georgia connects with her, Jenna approaches KC for the okay to set up outside of Rudy’s to draw portraits of his customers. She knows KC was one of the homicide detectives who years ago investigated her parents’ and sister’s murders.
You’ve said there’s more to come on the Morgans. What’s next?
Thanks for asking. First up is Alex, taking center stage in I’ll Never Let You Go, which is out in November 2015. Then last, but not least, is Georgia’s story in Vulnerable, which is being published in April 2016.
Where can we find out more about those book and what else you’re up to?
I post updates and photos and check in often on Facebook so there’s lots of info there. And my site is always open for business. Plus, as my calendar continues to shape up for the end of 2015 and into 2016, I expect to have a number of opportunities to visit with readers and other writers. Event listings can be found at maryburton.com/events.
Thanks for having me!