Miriam Cross, author, feminist and philanthropist, disappears from her Philadelphia home. A year later, a lonely recluse named Emily Cray is brutally murdered in her bed in a small Pennsylvania town. Miriam and Emily are one and the same. As Delilah and her staff of female detectives - a militant homemaker, an ex-headmistress and a former stripper - delve into Miriam’s life, they become submerged in an underworld of unfathomable cruelty and greed with implications that go far beyond the gruesome death of one woman or the boundaries of one country. Eventually Miriam’s fight for justice becomes Delilah’s own...until Delilah’s obsession with finding the truth may prove just as deadly.
10 things readers should know about THE SEDUCTION OF MIRIAM CROSS:
1. It’s a mystery with thriller pacing and a touch of romance.
2. It takes place in the Philly suburbs, near where I grew up, and features four female detectives who work together to solve the crime. Girl power!
3. When the famous feminist literary author Miriam Cross is found murdered while living under an alias, Miriam’s niece, a former Percy Powers client, begs Delilah for help. The women are drawn into a criminal underworld, and they soon realize Miriam’s death has global implications.
4. Detective #1 is Delilah, a displaced cowgirl from Wyoming who owns a horse farm in Bucks County, outside of Philly. Still mourning the loss of her cowboy father and her fiancé, Delilah’s content with her life alone. She has a hard outlook and a soft heart. Miriam’s murder stirs up old feelings, unwanted romance and some family drama along with danger.
5. Detective #2 is Barb, a tough-as-nails, get-it-done stay-at-home mom who moonlights as a private investigator. She’s smart and practical – Delilah’s right hand woman.
6. Detective #3 is Natasha, a former runaway and stripper. Now, the beautiful Natasha works three jobs to make a decent life for her son (all with her clothes on). Life on the streets has left her jaded and suspicious. Delilah is one of the few people she trusts.
7. Detective #4 is Margot. At seventy-two, the former nun loves that no one suspects her of sleuthing. She’s fit, intelligent, sly, has no regard for fools…and is very much still in the game.
8. Delilah was born during my trip to Driggs, Idaho and the Grand Tetons a few years ago. We were staying next to a ranch. One day, while we were driving, the cattle escaped and we found our car surrounded by hundreds of steer. A very somber cowboy on horseback came trotting out of nowhere, asked us politely to stay calm, and led the steer back to pasture. I wondered what it would be like to be a girl growing up on a ranch like that, and voila, Delilah came to be.
9. While THE SEDUCTION OF MIRIAM CROSS deals with some heavy social issues, it’s not about those issues. The purpose of the book is to entertain, but I hope along the way that readers also learn something.
10. This is the first in the series! In book two, THE INITIATION OF CAROLYN WU, the ladies find themselves pulled into the world of a Montana apocryphal cult in order to solve the disappearance of Philadelphia native Carolyn Wu.
Find Wendy at www.WATyson.com.
Do you have a favorite character that you've either written or read?
I love the character Barbara Havers in the Elizabeth George novels. Barbara’s an outsider with a strong (sometimes maddening) sense of justice and a willingness to do what’s right even if it goes against the grain. I don’t always agree with her, but I love her chutzpah!
In my own books, I love Natasha in THE SEDUCTION OF MIRIAM CROSS, and I’ve had quite a few readers say they relate to her, too. She’s had a rough life, and her present isn’t so easy either, but she has a passionate spirit, an incredible sense of loyalty and a gut-rooted desire to make a better life for her kid. She’s a rebel, and she says things to THE MAN that I would like (on occasion) to say, too. I also feel protective toward Natasha. As tough as she is, there’s a little kid in there who yearns to be nurtured.
IF YOU COULD TRAVEL ANYWHERE, WHERE WOULD YOU GO?
I love to travel, so it would be so hard to pick one place. Right now, Patagonia is at the top of the list. The pictures I’ve seen of the region have been breathtaking. I’d want to do an eco-minded tour, though, because the area is still pretty pristine. I recently watched the documentary 180° South, and, sadly, it made me wonder just how long this area will remain free of development (or scarred by development in other regions of South America).
DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING SPECIFIC THAT INSPIRES YOU, OR MAKES YOU THINK SOMETHING WOULD MAKE A GOOD STORY?
I never know when inspiration will hit. The trick seems to be recognizing it when it does and recording what may seem like silly or incomplete ideas – or even just an image. For THE SEDUCTION OF MIRIAM CROSS, I saw a child’s photograph in an issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. That photo helped spark a key aspect of the plot. When I was editing KILLER IMAGE, the first novel in my other mystery series, I saw old, overgrown bleachers at a local playground. They struck me as sad and haunting and I took pictures, not knowing why or what I would do with them. Later, it hit me why they had appealed to me. I needed to bring my character back to a place she’d been struggling with, a place long abandoned, and the bleachers made an appearance in that scene.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed by daily life and hungry for inspiration, I seek out a change of scenery. I especially love going somewhere with a view – the mountains or the ocean.
NIGHT OWL, OR EARLY BIRD?
WHO ARE YOUR INFLUENCES?
Oh, wow, there are many. From a literary standpoint, I read anything and everything as a kid. A few of my favorite authors were Stephen King, Judy Blume and James Herriot. I also loved the Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys series. As I got older, I read more broadly – literary fiction, science fiction, horror, contemporary women’s fiction, you name it. But I always came back to mysteries and thrillers. They’re my favorite, and authors in that genre have influenced me as a writer.
On a personal level, I’ve had many strong women in my life. I’ve been blessed with a big family – lots of cousins, great aunts and uncles, and, of course, my parents. My grandmother, Rose, had an incredible impact on me growing up. She was a first generation American, spoke fluent Italian, and was, in many ways, very traditional. But like her sisters and her mother, she was also a keen businesswoman who invested wisely and handled the family’s properties and finances. She loved to travel, cook, socialize, and have fun. She had an infectious laugh and really lived every day, despite some incredible hardships. Sadly, she passed away while I was in college, but she’s still with me in many ways. When I write female characters, I often think of her.
WHAT IS ONE BOOK EVERYONE SHOULD READ?
Don’t make me pick just one! Yikes, if I have to choose, I’m going to say LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry. Why? Because it’s just that good.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING WHEN YOU’RE NOT WRITING?
Spending time with my family, gardening, hiking, camping, and traveling, to name a few. My husband and I are avid organic gardeners and pretty outspoken about our belief in the beyond organic movement. I know I mentioned travelling before, but one of my greatest joys has been arranging trips in the US and abroad. Many of them are low budget, but seeing new places and, especially, seeing new places through my kids’ eyes, has been a priceless experience.
WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS LIKE?
I work full-time at a pretty demanding job, so I have to make time to write. I typically get up early, around 5 am, and write until it’s time to leave for work. My inner critic is still asleep at that time, and so are my kids! If I’m up against a deadline, I’ll also write at lunchtime. Once I get home in the evening, I’m too tired to do anything creative, so I generally use that time to make edits or take care of social media.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST THING YOU EVER WROTE ABOUT? AND HOW OLD WERE YOU?
I wrote a short story when I was eight. It was about a ghost dog. It was terrible, I’m sure, but my parents thought it was a masterpiece. It’s been love ever since.
Finish the sentence: I do my best writing when:
I have a clear head, a gorgeous view, and a whole day in front of me with nothing to do but write. (Sadly, that rarely happens – but when it does, I feel truly blessed.)