Deborah Sharp... Deborah Sharp...
Author of the Mace Bauer mystery series...
Deborah Sharp...

h o m e        b i o        b o o k s        e v e n t s        e x t r a s        c o n t a c t

...


Click book covers to read excerpts from all the Mace Bauer Mysteries, from Midnight INK Books:

Mama Sees Stars... Mama
Gets Trashed


Book #5
Mama Sees Stars... Mama
Sees Stars


Book #4
Mama Gets Hitched... Mama
Gets Hitched


Book #3
Mama Rides Shotgun... Mama
Rides Shotgun


Book #2
Mama Does Time... Mama
Does Time


Book #1

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Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Common questions about writing and my ''Mace Bauer Mysteries''
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You're a native Floridian. How do you think that influenced the plot and down-home Florida setting for MAMA DOES TIME, and your next book, MAMA RIDES SHOTGUN?

Did you ever hear that old Joni Mitchell lyric, ". . . they paved Paradise?" That's Florida for me. I remember as a girl, riding my horse just west of Fort Lauderdale, before the orange groves and ranch land vanished under asphalt. I wanted to write about an authentic part of the state, where that cattle-and-citrus tradition still exists. I created Himmarshee, Fla., where development may always threaten - but never ruin - my characters' hometown.

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You were a reporter for USA Today for many years, covering news stories in Florida and throughout the south. How does your journalism background play out in writing mysteries?

I think I covered every corner of the state for USA Today, all the little burgs and hamlets. That helped me capture a small-town flavor for my "Mace Bauer Mysteries." Reporting also makes you observe. You have to listen to what people say and the way they say it, and that's great for writing dialogue. And I wrote about a ton of real-life mysteries, often with very sad endings. The best thing about fiction is I get to say how the stories turn out. The bad guy - or gal - always gets what they deserve.

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The main character -- feisty, tomboyish, still-single Mace Bauer - fights off an alligator to rescue Mama, but can't seem to wrestle her love life into submission. How important is it to give a strong character like Mace some flaws and weaknesses?

Flaws make characters believable. We want to relate to the people we meet in books. People may envy the strength and confidence it takes to go up against an alligator, but they'll empathize with someone who's unlucky in love. We've all been there.

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How much of your own personality went into creating Mace?

Well, I've never had to haul my mama's butt out of jail or snatch her from the jaws of an alligator. And, while Mace watches TV's Cops to spot ex-beaus, I've been happily married for 20 years to Kerry Sanders, a reporter for NBC News. But Mace and I do share a love of animals, nature and the outdoors. We're both middle sisters; we're both loners; we both have mamas who love us to pieces, but often drive us to distraction. But Mace is taller, thinner, and 20 years younger than me.

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The relationship between the three sisters and the mama they're always bailing out of trouble seems essential to the book. Do you think women authors are better than men at writing about family ties?

Not to trade in stereotypes, because I know some male authors who do family well and women who write a super action scene ... but in general, I think having family surrounding the main character - even if it's a family that drives them crazy -- is more important to women than to men.

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In MAMA DOES TIME, Jeb Ennis, a bad-boy cowboy and the first beau to break Mace's heart, leaves rodeo to buy a cattle ranch near Wauchula. Why do you think this rodeo-and-ranches slice of Florida remains largely unknown?

The beaches and Disney have better PR agents, but you'll find "authentic Florida" in swaths of the state's interior. It looks and feels like the Florida of fifty years ago. Cattle ranches, citrus groves, sweet tea and BBQ. Maybe more people don't go because wild places also have snakes, mosquitoes, and clothes-soaking humidity. Hey, good with the bad, right?

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Why is it important to you to write about this fast-vanishing part of Florida?

When it's gone, it's gone. I hope that all the state's natural beauty and agricultural way of life doesn't disappear. But if it does, people might point to my books someday and say, "Wow! Can you believe how incredible Florida used to be?"

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For your books, you created Himmarshee, Fla., a tiny town in the wilds north of Lake Okeechobee. Why not just use an actual community as the setting for your mystery series?

Himmarshee is a figment of my imagination, based on an absolutely authentic part of the state. I would have used Okeechobee, Fla., a ranching community just north of the namesake lake, but even it's gotten too big: They have a Wal-Mart now. I wanted the freedom to incorporate bits and pieces from several little places I love - or loved - in my home state of Florida.

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How do you physically write? Sitting at a desk? At the beach? In a coffee shop?

All of the above. My husband says I'm like Goldilocks, choosing just the right bed at the Three Bears. This chair's too soft; that one's too hard; this one's too close to the refrigerator. I hate to be tied to a desk, so I move around. And I often write a lot of my first draft in long hand, in a spiral notebook. It's easy to slip into my backpack and bike to a picnic table on Fort Lauderdale beach. I also like to get away to a little trailer we own on remote land north of Okeechobee. I can walk the woods, watch the gators sun themselves on the bank of the Kissimmee River, and write to the calls of osprey and sand hill cranes.

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Where do you get the ideas for your books, and then how long does it take to write one?

The idea for my first book, MAMA DOES TIME, came from a magazine ad I saw of a pretty, older woman laughing behind the wheel of a turquoise convertible. That woman became Mama. After I left USA Today in 2005, I wrote my first short story ever, about how she discovered a body in her convertible trunk at the Dairy Queen. And that turned into the book. Which then turned into the series, the Mace Bauer Mysteries. That whole process took about two years.

The second, MAMA RIDES SHOTGUN, is set on the Florida Cracker Trail ride. I'd written a newspaper feature story years ago about the annual, six-day ride, which re-creates the tradition of driving cattle across the state. I always thought it would be ideal for a murder mystery. So I went out and rode it. You can listen to the radio essay I did about my experience: freezing rain and wind that swept away my tent; an encounter in the campsite, with what I thought was a "cow," enough Ben-Gay to stock a drugstore shelf.

After I recovered, I wrote the book, which took about a year. The ride only FELT like it took a year.

Listen to the essay about my experiences on the ride recorded by WUSF.

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