For fans of Julia Keller and Sheena Kamal, All We Buried disturbs the long-sleeping secrets of a small Washington State mountain town.
Interim sheriff Elizabeth “Bet” Rivers has always had one repeat nightmare: a shadowy figure throwing a suspicious object into her hometown lake in Collier, Washington. For the longest time, she chalked it up to an overactive imagination as a kid. Then the report arrives. In the woods of the Cascade mountain range, right in her jurisdiction, a body floats to the surface of Lake Collier. When the body is extricated and revealed, no one can identify Jane Doe. But someone must know the woman, so why aren’t they coming forward?
Bet has been sitting as the interim sheriff of this tiny town in the ill-fitting shoes of her late father and predecessor. With the nightmare on her heels, Bet decided to build a life for herself in Los Angeles, but now it’s time to confront the tragic history of Collier. The more she learns, the more Bet realizes she doesn’t know the townspeople of Collier as well as she thought, and nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.
Published by: Crooked Lane
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 1643852914 (ISBN13: 9781643852911)
Series: Sheriff Bet Rivers #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads
Elena Taylor lives on the banks of the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River in a town made famous by Twin Peaks. When she’s not writing or working one-on-one with writers as a developmental editor, she can be found hanging out with her husband, dog, and two cats. Her favorite place to be (besides home) is the stables down the road, with her two horses Radar and Jasper.
Q&A with Elena Taylor
What was the inspiration for this book?
I used to live in a community with a dark, mysterious lake. Every day I drove by and thought about what might be hidden under the water. I heard a story once, that a train engine rested at the bottom. I found the idea fascinating.
The community was also built on coal mining. Several coal mining towns around Washington State went boom, then bust. The one I lived in was much closer to Bellevue than the high ridges of the Cascade Mountain Range. It not only survived, but it turned into a bedroom community a short hop from Bellevue and Seattle.
That got me thinking about what it meant for the towns that didn’t survive and became ghost towns. How the people just vanished.
There are also some small mining towns in the state that did make it, despite their original booms and busts. I liked the idea of creating a town that had that mining background and wasn’t attached to Seattle or Bellevue but managed to survive on its own. That brought me to the creation of Collier, Washington.
Then Bet Rivers arrived fairly fully formed. I just had to figure out what made her tick.
What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?
Letting other things get in the way. I had an entire career in theater rather than a 100% focus on my writing. But I choose to see those years as helping me develop my writing style and voice. I wouldn’t necessarily change anything, but sometimes I wonder what might have been if I’d fully committed to writing much earlier in life.
What do you absolutely need while writing?
Coffee and my laptop. Almonds are a close second.
Do you adhere to a strict routine when writing or write when the ideas are flowing?
I try to write daily. Typically, I get up and write first thing in the morning. I vary depending on where I am in the process. First draft? Word count goal, usually one to two thousand words a day depending on how well the writing is going. Subsequent drafts? Either a number of pages or specific issues to address. I spend a lot of time in my head with my characters and the plot. This helps me never get “stuck” in the sense of staring at a blank page. I like to mull over what my characters are after and how their wants intersect and crash into each other. I believe that writer’s block is actually just a writer who hasn’t spent enough time thinking about their project. A friend of mine and I came up with the saying “honor the mull” and I try to do that every single day.
Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Schweitzer! I always love the dog best.
Who is your least favorite character from your book and why?
I love all my children equally—ha ha ha. I don’t have any characters I don’t like. The ones who behave badly are what makes it a mystery, so they serve an important purpose. Now, if you asked me if there are any characters that I’d rather not meet in the real world . . . Definitely! But I can’t tell you who or it will give too much away.
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book?
This book went through a LOT of possible titles and names for the town. When it first landed with my editor at Crooked Lane it was called Resurrection Lake. There’s nothing wrong with the title, but it didn’t capture the tone of the novel quite right. We tossed around a lot of different ideas, list after list of possibilities. I thought about calling the town and its lake Iron Horse (which is a name used in my area, but not a real town or a lake), and a few others.
Then I came up with Collier. A Collier is a term for a coal miner, which has a lot of meaning in the novel. It fit perfectly, so Robert Hatley became Robert Collier and the town changed its name from Resurrection to Collier. I realized it made a lot more sense that the town carried the name of the founder anyway, so that was a happy insight.
Then Peter Malone, my geomorphologist, was originally an ichthyologist. But my conversation with a scientist at the University of Washington showed me I’d picked the wrong type of expert. It’s always interesting to me how often we get close in a draft, but not quite on the money. Changing him to a geomorphologist fit much better with the story.
Then my editor came up with the title All We Buried. My agent and I loved it! We were all amazed it had never been used for a novel before.
I love how things change through rewrites. My editor brought out the best of this book and came up with the title, so I’m very grateful to Jenny Chen. When I go back and look at the first draft that I sent her, I realize how much we improved the overall story. Writers work alone most of the time, but when we do get the opportunity to work with great beta readers and agents and editors, our work can really rise to the next level.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for taking chances with new books and new-to-you authors! Whether it’s my book or another writer’s, it’s great that you are interested in the behind-the-scenes of a writer’s life. We work hard on our novels and it’s lovely to have readers interested in the full process. Thank you for being readers, without you our work would languish in various desk drawers around the world. And stay safe! Protect yourself and your loved ones. I’m looking forward to seeing you all in person soon.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I started out in the theater as a playwright, director, and designer/technician. I’ve worn almost every hat in theatre production. I’ve also done a lot of teaching, mostly on the college/university level. My favorite thing to do is hang out with my horses, whether riding or groundwork or just spending time listening to them graze (one of the greatest sounds in the world). I love to travel, which has been the hardest part about lockdown, as I had to cancel a lot of in-person events. But I’m a realist and am confident about a return to travel and hanging out in coffee shops with the perfect cappuccino in 2021.
What’s next that we can look forward to?
Fingers crossed it will be book two of the Sheriff Bet Rivers Mysteries! I’d love to have you follow me on social media for updates. I also do a newsletter that goes out once a month. If you would like to sign up, visit me at www.elenataylorauthor.com and scroll down to the bottom. Or shoot me an email at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to add you. I write about what I’m reading, writing tips, book giveaways, and often post photos of my various animals. That will be the first place to learn about my next publication and get an early glimpse of the opening chapter.
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PHOTO CREDIT MARK PERLSTEIN
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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Elena Taylor. There will be 2 winner2 of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on September 1, 2020 and runs through October 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.