Deadly Devotion, Port Aster Secrets Series #1Deadly Devotion, Port Aster Secrets Series #1
Sandra Orchard
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Research scientist Kate Adams and her colleague Daisy are on the brink of a breakthrough for treating depression with herbal medicine when Daisy suddenly dies. Kate knows that if it hadn't been for Daisy's mentorship, she wouldn't have the job she loves or the faith she clings to. So when police rule Daisy's death a suicide, Kate is determined to unearth the truth.

Former FBI agent Tom Parker finds it hard to adjust to life back in his hometown of Port Aster. Though an old buddy gives him a job as a detective on the local police force, not everyone approves. Tom's just trying to keep a low profile, so when Kate Adams demands he reopen the investigation of her friend's death, he knows his job is at stake. In fact, despite his attraction to her, Tom thinks Kate looks a bit suspicious herself.
     


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Sandra OrchardSandra Orchardis an award-winning author of Christian romantic suspense. She writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line and Revell Publishing. A member of ACFW, RWA and The Word Guild (Canada), Sandra loves to encourage other writers in their journey. Although she’d always dreamed of being a writer, she majored in math at university and didn’t think she had enough imagination to write fiction. While homeschooling her children, she wrote curriculum and reviews and read…a lot.  She lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband of more than twenty-five years, and now writes full time…when not doting on their first grandchild.

Favorite Verse: Proverbs 4:18 NIV:  The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
    shining ever brighter till the full light of day


 

 Christianbook.com Interview with Sandra Orchard


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada with my husband of over twenty-five years, two of our three twenty-something children, and a menagerie of animals. I also have a married daughter, fabulous son-in-law, and adorable granddaughter.

We (minus the animals) live in a hundred year old farmhouse (a.k.a. the money pit) that I was having great fun renovating until I blew a disk in my back. However, this unfortunate accident afforded me the time and motivation to pursue a long-neglected aspiration.

From a young age, I dreamed of being a writer, even as I majored in math at university. While homeschooling our young children, I remember thinking how wonderful it was that I could fulfill both my love of teaching and love of writing (curriculum at that time) with the joy of spending days with my children. At that time, I didn’t think I had enough imagination to write fiction.
 
Then following my mom’s death, I discovered Christian fiction. Seeing characters battle the same questions, yearnings and frustrations I battled, and triumph over them through God’s grace, restored my hope and rekindled my passion for writing.
So when my husband (out of desperation because of the books piling up around our house) suggested I write my own stories, little did he know where that off-handed remark would lead …

Six years and several much-revised novels later, I received my first contract. The news arrived on my youngest child’s first day of college. What a wonderful way to celebrate my “graduation” from homeschool teacher to full-time author!

The journey to publication, and beyond, has stretched and challenged me in ways I’d never imagined. I am utterly dependent on God for daily inspiration. And the divine appointments he brings my way never cease to amaze me.

I’ve had the privilege of working with many talented authors and aspiring writers and “informants” who have enriched my stories and my life with their insights, suggestions, humor, and prayers. Oh, yes, and chocolate!

My husband and children continue to be my most enthusiastic encouragers. My youngest daughter, a freelance writer and aspiring novelist herself, provides an understanding ear when writer’s block sets in. My eldest daughter types my handwritten pages. My son answers my would-a-guy-do-this questions. And my hubby is happy to stand in for my hero anytime to help me get my descriptions just right.

 

 

What is your favorite Bible verse?  Why?

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.  Proverbs 4:18 NIV 1984

I love sunrises—full of beauty and promise and hope. This verse brings that image to mind and fills me with the joy of a new morning, and the joy of knowing that whatever happens, He’s leading me day by day to a greater light.

What sparked your interest to write about a murder concerning herbal mixtures?

The initial inspiration for this book actually didn’t have to do with a murder mystery at all. My children were working at a local greenhouse and I had a dream about how explosives could be transported across the border, disguised in flower shipments. How I got from that starting point to an herbal researcher sleuth is quite convoluted, but basically I needed an inciting incident to force my hero and heroine together, and so I used a tried-and-true mystery writer’s trick—I killed someone. <wink> Since the story involved a greenhouse, I decided plants should be involved in the victim’s demise. Then as I studied poisonous plants, story idea after story idea toppled through my mind and my herbal researcher sleuth was born.
 
How much research did Deadly Devotion take?
 
To gain a better perspective of the hero’s work and mental processes, I attended a Writer’s Police Academy. It was a fascinating hands-on experience at an actual Police Training facility, which greatly enhanced the characterization of my hero and his work.
 
To better understand the heroine’s occupation and mindset, I spent a great deal of time studying herbs, herbal folklore, and herbal remedies. I interviewed an herbalist, gardeners and several avid users of herbal teas and tinctures, as well as, took on a part-time job as a sensory panelist at our local agricultural research center.

Also, at the time I was writing Deadly Devotion, my eldest daughter was attending an intensive thirty-six month horticultural program. Her experiences inspired several related plot points, and character idiosyncrasies. In addition, I visited different greenhouses, and researched several marijuana drug busts in the area, and interviewed several police officers.

 

Do you have a background and passion with herbs?

I’ve had an interest in herbal remedies for many years, enriched by several friends who are passionate about their use.

How much of the story is factual?

The information about herbal remedies and poisons is based on published studies and popular folklore. The agricultural research center, where the heroine works, is loosely patterned after a similar facility in Niagara, Ontario.  But the town and police department are purely fictional.
 
What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Deadly Devotion?

Not all marigolds are marigolds. (The novel’s working title had been Murder by Marigolds.) Amateur gardeners like myself call all those marigold-looking flowers marigolds, but if your friend tells you to try drinking marigold tea for those hot flashes, or whatever other female problems ail you, you’d better know your marigolds! There are two broad categories of flowers commonly referred to as marigolds. Calendulas—the beneficial kind—and Tagetes—many of which are toxic. 

 What other new writing projects do you have on the horizon?

Deadly Devotion is the first book in my Port Aster Secrets series. I am currently editing the second book in the series, which releases June 2014. I’m also working on several upcoming books for Love Inspired Suspense. Fatal Inheritance featuring an antique horseless carriage—another element that was fun to research!—releases in August.

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Deadly Devotion?

To put their faith in God, not people. It’s easy to let the actions of those who we look up to in the faith affect our perceptions, but what others do or don’t do doesn’t change who God is. Sooner or later just about everyone comes up against a side of God that’s hard for them to accept, and will have to decide if they trust him no matter how the situation looks.

Will you please give a bit of a preview about your next book in the Port Aster Secrets Series?

Caught inadvertently passing counterfeit money given to her by an elderly neighbor, Kate Adams finds herself in the middle of another one of Detective Tom Parker’s investigations. Determined to prove her neighbor’s innocence, she finds herself in a web of intrigue that goes far deeper than a two-bit counterfeit operation, and that strikes too close to home. Family secrets are exposed that will rock her world and threaten the tenuous romance budding between her and Tom.

 

What organizations are you involved with?

I’m an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, the Faith, Hope, Love inspirational chapter of Romance Writers of America, The Word Guild, and WODE (my local writing group—Write Off the Deep End).

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

Letting a story go is probably my biggest challenge. I enjoy revising, and I know there are always ways I can make a given story stronger, but sometimes too much tweaking isn’t good. Other times, deadlines demand that I move on.
 
Who is the person who most influences your writing?

My critique partners. Since they don’t know my characters as intimately as I do, they give me honest feedback on the story that makes it to the page, rather than the one that’s in my head—which can sometimes be much different without my realizing it!
 
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I love hearing from readers, especially what they take away from the story. Many times they shared something I’ve never imagined, and I love seeing how God uses stories in unexpected ways. My favorite part of writing is brainstorming the twists and turns of the plot, and then the challenge of fitting them all together—often not the way I planned since the characters have their own ideas!

What do you do to get away from it all?

Since the stories live in my head, it’s hard to really get away from it all. I enjoy quiet walks in the woods with my hubby. Although my favorite pastime these days is playing with my two-year old granddaughter and exploring the world through her eyes.

What were your favorite stories as a child?

The Wind in the Willows was the first chapter book I remember that really captured my imagination. I enjoyed reading the Trixie Beldon and Encyclopedia Brown detective series as a preteen, which no doubt contributed to my interest in writing mysteries.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve created some intriguing bonus features for my novels, such as deleted scenes, location pics, character interviews, etc. which readers can find on my website at: http://sandraorchard.com/extras/bonus-book-features/

 


 

 
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