Wednesday 28 December 2016

Author’s Inspirations ~ Larry Shackleford @larrydshack

It is with the greatest of pleasure that I welcome back Larry Shackleford  onto the blog again! Larry is going to share with us his inspirations behind his latest book…
The Reliquary
Larry Shackleford

The Reliquary is the sequel to The Keresa Headdress. The fast-paced crime fiction novel takes place in Salt Lake City, Utah. The unique cast of characters from the Keresa Headdress are back, along with new team members, to solve another extraordinary criminal investigation involving fossil theft and a psychotic killer. 
FBI Special Agent Karen Adams' career has flat lined since the exciting Keresa Headdress investigation, where she met Special Agent Marcus "Playboy" McCoy and her fiancé, archaeologist Derek Simms.  Karen's supervisor, Roger Miller has since reassigned her to investigating mundane medical waste, fraud and abuse cases. Karen and Marcus are reunited as unlikely partners when a paleontology team goes missing in the remote Morrison Formation near Richfield, Utah.
The missing persons case quickly escalates into a chilling nightmare that no-one could have expected. Karen and Marcus soon discover the murdered scientists along with missing Allosaurus fossils. The violent killer leaves few leads to pursue, and the team enlists Riley, a local polygamist and nudist, along with heavyset homicide detective, Colin Childs, to assist with the investigation.  Marcus continues his “Playboy McCoy” antics until he meets Dr. Lisa Gruber, a paleontologist from the University of Utah who is unlike any woman he has ever met.
Dealing with recent personal issues, Karen finds herself in another professional frustrating situation. Unfortunately, she must risk her own life as another case submerges her into the unimaginable underworld of antiquities theft and the criminally insane.
Author’s Inspiration
First of all, it is an honor and a privilege to be invited back to Mary Anne’s blog site!  I have been a longtime fan of Mary Anne’s books; my friends and co-workers have all thoroughly enjoyed her Du LacChronicles series. 
The inspiration behind The Reliquary, the sequel to The Keresa Headdress (2015), was directly related to my interest in paleontology and the fascinating world of dinosaurs.  During my law enforcement career, I had the opportunity to work on several investigations involving the theft of Allosaurus fossils on public land in the State of Utah.  I even traveled to two different foreign countries to recover stolen fossils.  Utah’s unique geology makes for world-class paleontology sites spanning millions of years of evolution.  The Allosaurus was named the official Utah State fossil in 1988 because there are more Allosaurus fossils in Utah than anywhere else in the world. 

Allosaurus - Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry museum, Utah, USA

The Allosaurus was a late Jurassic-era bipedal top predator that lived approximately 145 to 150 million years ago in North and South America.  It was smaller than its Late Cretaceous relative, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, weighing in at 1.5 – 2 tons as an adult, and measuring 30 – 40 feet long.  Unfortunately, the irreplaceable fossil remains have also become a lucrative target for the black market.  Similar to the illegal “pothunters” in archeological resource theft, the “rock hounds” of the paleo world have also capitalized on the theft of the rare and valuable resources.  One femur bone from a well-known dinosaur can easily be sold on the black market for approximately $15,000 - $20,000 US dollars.

My goal with The Reliquary was to continue telling the story of Karen, Derek and Marcus, but this time I wanted to incorporate a plotline involving paleo theft.  The challenge was not to simply make a sequel, but create a story that would stand alone without any previous knowledge of characters depicted in The Keresa Headdress.  Also, I found that character development is very difficult when you are using characters from a previous story.  I do not know if other authors will agree with this: writing fiction is truly rewarding in many ways, but there is also negative side to publishing your work.  In a sense, you feel somewhat vulnerable and “exposed” wondering if readers will not only like your stories, but your characters as well.  Right or wrong, it is interesting to witness other people discussing the characters that you have created. 
Positive and negative feedback from readers for an author is critical, but it is also interesting to see what individual readers glean from your stories.  I would love to see Mary Anne create a small section on her blog that highlights comments authors have received from readers that have surprised them.  For example, in one of my books, The Cherubim Rosewood (2015), the main character gives his long-time girlfriend his parents’ wedding rings shortly after completing a horrific journey through the Amazon jungle.  In the book, he simply tells his girlfriend that he would like for her to keep the rings safe.  I had a reader tell me that was one of the most unique, romantic ways she had ever read a wedding proposal.  I thanked her for her kind comments, but when I wrote these words, the thought of a wedding proposal NEVER crossed my mind!
Based on the feedback I had received from The Keresa Headdress, I was motivated to really develop the character Marcus McCoy in the story.  So many readers absolutely loathed this character, so I strived to portray the human side of Marcus in the sequel, without condoning his unsavory shenanigans.  I also wanted to introduce the historical side of fossils, their implications to modern times, and reveal the alarming rate in which fossils are used for illegal purposes.  I also wanted to introduce a deeply troubled suspect.  I will not go as far to say this story is based on a real experience or individual, but I will suggest that the best law enforcement stories are the ones that the general public will never hear about!

Links to Purchase

About the author
Larry was raised in southwest Missouri where he received his college degree, but he received his education after he graduated and began working in a maximum-security federal prison. After spending two years behind bars, he continued his law enforcement career as a criminal investigator, residing and working in eight states and two foreign countries. Larry retired from law enforcement after twenty-five years of service and resides in Salt Lake City with his wife and cat.

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx