Click book covers to read excerpts from all the Mace Bauer Mysteries, from Midnight INK Books:
HERE'S the short version, for reporters and other
individuals with short attention spans:
Deborah Sharp was a reporter for USA Today for nearly two
decades. Given all the stories she wrote about killer
sharks, rampaging alligators, and human evil-doers, it's a
wonder she leaves her house.
She traded the sad stories of the news business for
the funny ''Mace Bauer Mystery'' series, set in a sweet-tea-
and-barbecue slice of her native Florida. The series debuted
with ''Mama Does Time'' (Midnight Ink, 2008). Mama's out of
the slammer and into the saddle in Book 2, ''Mama Rides
Shotgun'' (July 2009.) In Book 3, 2010's ''Mama Gets
Hitched,'' Mama ties the sacred knot of matrimony . . . for
the fifth time. And in No. 4, ''Mama Sees Stars'' (Sept.
2011), a Hollywood movie company comes to little Himmarshee,
Fla., and Mama gets her close-up ... with murder. The
latest, Book 5, is ''Mama Gets Trashed,'' published in
September 2013. Foul play and fetish gear in Himmarshee?
Mama's blushing pinker than her favorite sweet wine!
Deborah's Florida mysteries are funny, with a soft
Southern edge: Think Carl Hiaasen on estrogen.
She lives in Fort Lauderdale with her husband of more
than 20 years, television reporter Kerry Sanders. No kids.
No pets. They had goldfish once. Turned out badly.
Her short fiction and essays have appeared
nationally, and her humorous commentaries have run on NPR.
She's been on the Today Show -- more than once! She's
grateful for the chance to have chatted with Al Roker and
other TV stars about her wacky Mama character, and the
transition she made from journalism to novels.
HERE'S the longer, first-person version, for people with way
too much time on their hands:
Like the main character in my "Mace Bauer Mysteries," my
family roots were set in Florida long before Walt Disney and
"Miami Vice" came to define the state. As a Florida native,
and a former, longtime reporter for USA Today, I know every
burg and back road. I've visited spots not found on maps:
Molasses Junction. Muse. And now, Himmarshee, my own tiny
slice of "Authentic Florida."
Home to cowboys and church suppers, Himmarshee is hot, and
swarming with mosquitoes. And that's about all it has in
common with Carl Hiaasen's Florida. This isn't the state
everyone thinks they know. To create it, I borrowed a little
from the present-day ranching town of Okeechobee, and a bit
from long-ago southern Florida, where I'm from.
Not far from Ft. Lauderdale, in Davie, my daddy walked to
town, leading the family's cow. A generation later, when I
was a girl, my Quarter horse and I galloped over the same
terrain. Dotted then with citrus groves and ranches, it's
all interstates and strip malls now.
The difference between Mace and Mama's hometown and mine:
Himmarshee may be threatened by over-development, but I'll
never let it be ruined.
Born in Fort Lauderdale, I'm a middle sister - just like
Mace. I went to elementary school at Southside, high school
at Stranahan, undergrad at Florida Atlantic University (This
was PF: Pre-Football, when the big campus sports were tennis
and water polo). What a culture shock when I headed "up
north" to attend the University of Georgia, home of rabid
"Dawgs" fans and alumni, who return for football games in
huge RVs with horns that toot out "Dixie."
I earned a master's degree in psychology, and then switched
to journalism, much to the dismay of my Ph.D. committee.
Like most things in my life, it wasn't planned. The J-school
was right next to the Psych building. One night, our vending
machine ran out of my favorite lemon-cream cookies. I
wandered across the courtyard in search of junk food, and
found a new career.
It was a good one, too, for more than 20 years. I started in
1982 at the News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., where I would
have paid them to let me write all those articles about
manatees and panthers, cops and courts. My favorite
assignment: Writing about playing a zombie for director
George Romero when ''Day of the Dead" shot on Sanibel
My fellow extras praised my excellent lurching.
A News-Press bonus: I met my future husband, TV reporter
Kerry Sanders, covering damage to the winter vegetable crop
in Immokalee, Fla. We both shivered in a pre-dawn freeze,
waiting to see if the green peppers would turn into
Kerry and I have been married since 1989. No kids, no pets.
We had goldfish once. Turned out badly.
After the News-Press, I moved to Tampa, Fla., in 1986.
Gannett News Service gave me the chance to roam the state,
writing features: The Strawberry King of Plant City. The
Swizzle Stick Sultan of St. Pete. And, to prove it wasn't
all a giggle, the haunted life of the sole survivor of the
Sunshine Skyway Bridge collapse.
Then, in 1991, it was back to my hometown of Fort
Lauderdale. Kerry landed a job with NBC in neighboring
Miami. The occasional stories I'd been writing for Gannett-
owned USA Today became a flood. Miami may be crazy, but what
a news town! Riots. Murdered tourists. Hurricanes. Elian. I
kept busy, traveling over Florida and the south, racking up
And then, 9/11. So much death and destruction. So much
changed. Anthrax. Terrorism. Wars. I felt sad all the time,
interviewing people who had lost so much. One of my last
assignments for the paper was to profile soldiers killed in
battle. Grieving parents; spouses; kids. My 50th birthday
rolled around, and I decided I couldn't do it anymore.
Life's too short, as they say, and I'd seen over and over
the truth of that.
So, mystery-writing beckoned: A world where I could punish
the bad and reward the good; where I get to say how the
stories turn out. And not thrillers or dark suspense or
serial killers stalking women. I chose to write light, funny
mysteries--which basically means very little blood and
nobody gets autopsied. And, I throw in some romance, too.
MAMA DOES TIME, MAMA RIDES SHOTGUN, MAMA GETS HITCHED,
MAMA SEES STARS, and MAMA GETS TRASHED are traditional
mysteries with a comic, Southern edge. Agatha Christie, if
she had a couple of cousins named Bubba. Mama, married five
times, wears sherbet-colored pantsuits and performs beauty
parlor aromatherapy at Hair Today Dyed Tomorrow.
Now, I don't care who you are, as Larry the Cable Guy would
say, that's funny!
And don't we all need a laugh now and then?