Tuesday, February 4, 2020

SASSCER HILL'S ODYSSEY: Guest Post by Sasscer Hill


My author journey has been a long and crooked path. My first book, the “Nikki Latrelle” novel, FULL MORTALITY, came out with a very small press in 2010 and was nominated for Best First Agatha and Macavity Awards. Three books later, I had a new agent and landed a two-book deal with St. Martin’s Minotaur for the “Fia McKee” mystery series.

Sadly, I learned that my Minotaur editor, who loved the books, had to battle with the marketing and sales departments who were convinced a horse racing mystery was a nonstarter. With that self-fulfilling prophecy firmly in place, they had the satisfaction of being right. Even with a $10,000 Ryan Award for Best Book in Racing Literature and excellent trade reviews, including a starred Booklist review and an Editor’s Pick in the Toronto Star, sales of the two “Fia” books languished with little publisher support and an author with no money to push the books.

I began a new murder mystery about a nineteen-year-old American gypsy girl from a clan of con artists known as Irish American Travellers. The novel is as much a coming of age story as it is a mystery-thriller. Unfortunately, my agent was convinced she’d have trouble selling the book since the Fia books sold poorly. We parted ways, the book is finished, and the Travels of Quinn will be out under my own imprint, Wild Spirit Press, on February 11.

The largest US clan of Travellers is located in the town of Murphy Village, about thirty-five minutes from my South Carolina home in Aiken. Like grifters, the men and boys travel out of state, during warm weather, running home improvement swindles. Many Travellers speak a secret language, a mixture of Gaelic and English called “Cant.” It’s useful when pulling off a scam. But many people who know them, say most Travellers are honest hard-working people.

I found their culture fascinating. Children are taken out of school no later than seventh or eighth grade. Girls stay at home and are locked into marriage contracts, often when only five years old. Locally, we've seen little girls with diamond engagement rings, and they are always dressed to kill. Full makeup, and "big hair" with teasing, mousse and extensions, and sometimes even wigs. These people are extremely insular, sticking to themselves, and avoiding outsiders as a way of preserving their culture.

Imagine, if you will, the story of Quinn O’Neill, a young woman born into this culture. Her mother, an outsider who regrets marrying into the clan, abandons Quin when the girl is only two. Quinn is bright and many in her clan resent that she has educated herself with books. Erroneously, they believe she’s a snob, like her beautiful, educated mother, who they despised. Imagine that Quinn wants out, but she’s torn with indecision. Her father and hated stepmother signed her into a marriage contract to a young criminal she doesn’t love. But can she bear to leave everything she knows and face ostracism by her own people? Is there even a way she can escape?

With a nod to my fans who love horses, I included the beautiful Gypsy Vanner horse in the story. When Quinn is arrested and jailed for theft, she pays restitution by working on a horse farm that raises Gypsy Vanners. Unfamiliar with horses, her love for them surprises her. They introduce her to a different world. They give her hope she can find a better life.

Travels of Quinn is a coming of age novel. But it is also a murder mystery, and when the farm’s owner is brutally murdered, Quinn becomes the prime suspect. On the run, she uses every scam and con she knows to save herself. Can she find the real killer before she’s imprisoned for life or murdered because she knows too much? I hope you will take a ride with the Travels of Quinn, a mystery-thriller of deceit, murder, greed and hope.

Sasscer Hill is an Award-winning Author of Mysteries & Thrillers. TRAVELS OF QUINN, 2-11-20, a novel of deceit, murder, greed and hope. Author of Multiple Award Winning “FIA McKEE” Series & the Multiple Award Nominated “NIKKI LATRELLE” Series. http://SasscerHill.com/ https://www.facebook.com/SasscerHill/

1 comment:

Sasscer Hill said...

Janet, I was honored to be able to write a post for Mystery Fanfare! Thank so much for this opportunity. Recently I did a short video for the book you might enjoy.