Friday, February 19, 2016

Back story to the Miz Mike Murder Mysteries by Stephanie Parker McKean

This week, I am interrupting my usual watery stories to bring you a guest post by my friend and fellow Sunpenny author, Stephanie Parker McKean. In a way, you might say we are unlikely buddies as Steph is a committed and practicing Christian, which I respect completely but am not myself.  Differences in ideology we might have, but I like her immensely. She is great fun, has a wonderful sense of humour and has written a series of murder mystery books about a whacky heroine, Miz Mike, who I suspect has more than a bit of Steph in her too. 


This coming week, one of the series, Bridge Beyond Betrayal (number two to be precise) is reduced to 99p on Amazon.uk and its equivalent on the other Amazon sites. This offer is part of Sunpenny's book boost campaign in which I too have been involved. Since I've enjoyed writing the back story of my own books, I thought it would be good to have Stephanie on board to tell us something about the story behind the Miz Mike books and Bridge Beyond Betrayal in particual. 

Over to you, Steph!

"When I was a teen I read “Sea Jade” by Phyllis A Whitney and fell in love with the romance-suspense genre. After I became a Christian, however, I found myself starting to read romance-suspense books by other authors and either throwing them away if I had bought them myself or returning them to the library unread. So I decided to write books for me. Not just for me, but for other readers who love the romance-suspense genre, but are disappointed by a lot of what’s out there. 

As for Texas Miz Mike, I grew tired of the stereotyped heroines in many contemporary romances: young, beautiful, perfectly dressed girls with thoughts of expensive cars, jewelry, and handsome arrogant men to bed them and wed them. I tried to create an older model heroine for older model readers. Miz Mike is not perfect either in looks or actions. She’s klutzy. She’s quick to get involved in other people’s business when she believes she can help. She can’t sing, can’t do math, and could get lost in a shoebox. She gets one important thing right; she goes to God for help when she fails.

When I wrote the first Miz Mike book, “Bridge to Nowhere,” I never thought of it as the start of a series. Mike would solve the mystery and marry her cowboy hero, just like in her secret M&M candies game…end of story. But the characters lived on in my mind and heart after typed “The End.” So “Bridge Beyond Betrayal” flowed out of the first book.




 “Bridge Beyond Betrayal” is dedicated to my son USMC Major Luke Gaines Parker who was killed in a plane crash two years ago at the age of 37. The prophetic poem he wrote a year before his death is included. Miz Mike’s son Ron is loosely based on Luke, who from an early age was more often right than his mom. Luke and I shared a slew of adventures as he was growing up and I learned that if he said, “Mom, don’t drive down this road or you’ll get stuck,” then it was wise to stop and turn around!

Bridge Beyond Betrayal is set in imaginary Three Prongs, Texas, which is similar to the real Bandera, Texas, “Cowboy Capital of the World.” The Texas Hill Country is a unique landscape simply unlike any other place in the world and I tried to capture it in both “Bridge to Nowhere” and “Bridge Beyond Betrayal.” In fact, I never planned to write a “Bridge” book set anywhere else. However, my favorite Bible verse is, “All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord.” (Romans 8:28) 

So it was that while working as a staff writer for “The Bandera County Courier” newspaper, I was sent to interview a Scottish pastor who had exchanged pulpits with the pastor of a church in Pipe Creek, Texas. I was angry. I didn’t want to go. I had articles to finish from major meetings: the school board, county commissioners, city council. It was unfair that I had to shove those aside on deadline day to conduct an interview that another staff writer had forgotten. But I went. And met Reverend Alan McKean, who is now my husband.

Alan and I were both married at the time and never expected to wind up together. And I certainly never expected to leave my beloved Texas Hill Country for Scotland. But my husband died, his wife died, and we had maintained contact through a series of articles and photos he had sent to our newspaper. Which explains why “Bridge to Brigadoon” (number four in the series) is set in Scotland, a country I found cold, strange and a bit hostile when I first arrived as a native Texan. The humor of the cultural shock is reflected in “Bridge to Brigadoon” and is even more pronounced in the sixth Miz Mike (not yet released). The sixth Miz Mike includes an episode of rented ghosts and swimming in Loch Ness with “Nessie” in pursuit!

Will there be a seventh Miz Mike “Bridge” book in the series? Hmm…"

Thanks so much, Steph. The dedication to Luke is especially meaningful, and it's very special that in some ways he lives on in your books.

For those whose interest is piqued, I can testify that the Bridge books are an absolute hoot and Miz Mike is delightfully bonkers. They are great fun reads whatever your persuasion and once you read one, you'll undoubtedly want to read the rest. Three Prongs is peopled by a wonderful set of characters, all of whom the reader grows more than a bit fond of. Try them! The links are listed below:

Bridge Beyond Betrayal at Amazon.com
Bridge Beyone Betrayal at Amazon.co.uk

And Stephs' Amazon author page:

14 comments:

  1. Thanks, Val! You are awesome. For a writer as incredible as you to include me on your blog makes me feel humbled and very grateful. You are indeed a beloved friend! Glad we met over your "Watery Ways" and my Texas armadillo chasing!

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  2. Nice to meet you Stephanie :). Any recommendation from Val is worth reading, so I will start from the beginning with A Bridge to Nowhere - looking forward to reading it xxx

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    1. I love the books, Fran. If you read them with an American accent, they are even funnier because the language is very Texan US! :)

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    1. I hope you enjoy it, Carol. Totally off the wall, and great fun.

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  4. Lovely to learn some of the background to your work Stephanie. Thanks Val for a great blog as usual. I too wondered about the differences in my spirituality and that of Stephanie's but it has been no barrier and has opened my heart and mind to another way of living. All knowledge is to be treasured and whilst I remain closer to my ideology that the Christian one I find the Miz Mike books just brillaint and am lucky to count Stephanie as a friend xxx

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    1. You've put it perfectly, Tonia! I feel exactly the same :) When I was doing my farming thing back in the seventies, my dearest friend who helped me then was a Jehovah's Witness; then in SA, I was very close to a devout Hindu. I often seem to have friends with very strong faith, but my secular approach to life has never been an issue. I love Miz Mike too!

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  6. Just started reading Watery Ways, and loving it! Catching up on your blog, too. My book is currently sharing Kindle's Top 10 Best Sellers Water Sports category with yours. "Water Sports"?! I'm sure you don't see your watery life as a sport, any more than I do! :-)

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    1. Thank you, Roger! I've found your blog and also your book, so I'm planning on reading it very soon. I love NB blogs and books! As for being in Water Sports, I don't see much connection either but then Amazon doesn't have a section for us, do they? Perhaps they can't imagine anyone being that daft that they'd want to spend their lives with their feet in the water :)

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  7. It must be an Extreme Sport - extremely agreeable! (-:

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