Please welcome our honored guest blogger today, author Mara Purl. Mara is the award-winning author of The Milford-Haven Novels, which, collectively, have won 15 literary awards. Mara’s novels are based on her successful radio drama "Milford-Haven, U.S.A.," the first environmental radio soap opera, and the only American radio soap ever licensed and broadcast by the BBC, where the show reached an audience of 4.5 million listeners throughout the U.K. Along with producing sixty episodes of her BBC show, Mara also produces and performs audio books. She won the silver Benjamin Franklin and the gold USA Book News Audio Fiction awards for performing the first two of her own novels.
Mara grew up in Tokyo, Japan, and received a performing and literary degree from Bennington College. She lives in Los Angeles, California, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, and is a long-time and frequent visitor to the Central Coast. Learn more about Mara and her books at http://www.marapurl.com.
What the Heart Knows starts off with a bang—well, a thud was all that could be heard by the killer as his massive fist connected with the soft side of his victim’s head. But for her, the crack was as loud as a gunshot.
Mid-air when his fist slammed into her, she then landed a story below, inside the unfinished house. Stunned, she still had enough presence of mind to play dead in hopes her killer would believe the ruse. But then he lifted that conveniently placed shovel and began to bury her in the wet, sandy soil of Milford-Haven. . . .
Okay, but what was she doing there in the first place?
That was my challenge in writing this key character who starts my series of twelve novels. Though my books are not traditional mysteries—indeed, the crime of Chris’s murder isn’t solved till several books hence—still, the theme of her murder establishes not only an undertow throughout my coastal tale, but also becomes a set of tumblers locking the safe that holds a nexus of interwoven storylines the reader must unlock.
Couldn’t I just set aside Chris’s usual intelligence and allow her to do one stupid thing? Well, yes, the thing she does can be stupid—but not from her perspective, or she’d have stopped herself, because she prides herself on her smarts.
Okay. Rewind. Christine Christian, noted broadcast journalist, had hit her professional stride. Her series on lost children would most likely win an Emmy, according to her network execs. Tomorrow she’d be off to Japan to start shooting her earthquake series.
Her head is in the right place. It’s taken several years—Chris is now in her early 40s—but at last, she’s got her professional ducks in a row. The network job that had her tied to a desk? She quit that a while back. She’d finally used her head. It’d been time to strategize, really think about what she wanted, then aim for it. What she wanted was the freedom to research and write her own stories, travel with a crew to shoot the footage, then come home and take the time to edit her miles of videotape (the story is placed in the 1990s) into tight episodes that told compelling stories, exposing lies, getting to the bottom of schemes, and shining a light in dark places.
So her life is about truth-telling, about smarts, about outwitting bad-guys and saving the world one story at a time. Her life is about digging up clues, following leads wherever they lead. This all makes sense from the perspective of the head. What about the other side of the equation, the heart side? This is the side Chris has always carefully avoided. After all, feelings just get in the way of smart decisions, right? And intuitions? They’re just little iterations of fear. And to be a good journalist, she must be fearless.
Smart though she is, Chris is just plain stupid when it comes to the heart. Yes, it’s true, a few months earlier she’d finally opened the door just a crack to let in the attentions of Joseph Calvin, the rich, older guy who seemed to make coming home to the Central Coast uncannily right. But mostly it’s fun in the sack followed by juicy conversation. It’s not like she actually loves the man, nor has he mentioned anything about loving her, exactly.
This is Christine’s tragic flaw—that she doesn’t know what her heart knows. Her life-long practice of living out of balance—head first, heart last—isn’t serving her well. She could change the balance, begin the adventure of listening to that inner voice. But she doesn’t.
The whisperings that urge her not to go to the unfinished house that night, but instead to meet Joseph as promised . . . she squelches them. The prickles of danger that dance up her spine even as she parks her car that moonless night? She ignores them, misidentifying them as sissy-fears.
Had she listened, her intuition would’ve told her not to meet the stranger at the house that night, but to find a different way to expose the baddie. Her heart would’ve shown her a way to accept help when she needs it, discriminate between the trustworthy and the malicious sources.
Though Christine dies that night, her journey is far from over. For nothing will be truly right again in Milford-Haven until her murder is solved. And in the solving must come to light . . . what the heart knows.
What the Heart Knows will be released in September. To download the Milford-Haven Single, When Hummers Dream, click here for a $.99 Kindle version. You can also download a FREE pdf of the Single from Mara's publisher by going to http://www.bellekeepbooks.com/bonus/ and type in the password BKbonus. This link and password will remain active until Labor Day.
To be eligible to win a gift basket of Mara's books and lots of goodies, leave a comment below. Winner will be announced at The LadyKillers on the Sunday (August 14) post. Be sure to check back to see if you are the lucky winner!