Today Terry Ambrose is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Secrets of the Treasure King, his latest novel in the Seaside Cove Bed and Breakfast mystery series.
Welcome, Terry. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
Secrets of the Treasure King is the fourth Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery. Like many cozy mysteries, the book is set in a small town with plenty of murders. In this case, the arrival of an arrogant sea captain and his band of treasure hunters sets everyone on edge. Part of the problem is that the captain claims to have a map to the San Mañuel, a 400-year-old sunken Spanish galleon.
The ten-word or less description for the book is “secrets can be a deadly affair.” In fact, there are plenty of secrets revealed in this book. The question my amateur sleuths must answer is, did the map the captain claims to have result in his murder? Or was the motive something else altogether?
The overarching theme in the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery series is the hunt for the San Mañuel. Treasure hunting is a cutthroat business—that hasn’t changed much through the ages thanks to good old-fashioned greed. All I can say is, God bless greed. It makes great material for a mystery!
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
In one sense, Secrets of the Treasure King is a continuation of the hunt for the San Mañuel. When I was first working out the concept for this series, I was having a problem finding a really good hook, something that could be carried over from book to book, develop over time, and feel new for each installment. My wife made a comment while I was struggling with this idea. She said, “Everybody loves a good treasure hunt.” My reaction was immediate—a treasure hunt was exactly what I had been searching for. In each book, the hunt for the San Mañuel and its millions of dollars of bounty intensifies and I get to explore a different aspect of the dirty business of treasure hunting.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
Believe in yourself. It’s such a simple concept, yet so many people are plagued by self-doubts, especially those growing up. The main characters in this series are Rick Atwood and his eleven-year-old daughter. They make the perfect team to deal with this issue and to show that not only are kids affected by self-doubts, but so are adults.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
I’ve come up with a rather convoluted process to create characters. Step 1: Select an approximate age and gender for the character. That’s where my subjective input ends. Step 2: use a random date generator to pick a day of the year. Step 3) Find the astrological sign for the character and go to a website that describes the characteristics of each sign. Step 4) Close my eyes and highlight some text. Those characteristics form the underlying traits of the character. The thing I like most about this process, is it means I’m meeting new people all the time!
I do the same thing with the occupations for characters. I have a list with something like 1500 job titles and, using a random number generator, select the line and occupation for a character. It’s how I wound up with a narrow weaver in Secrets of the Treasure King. Prior to writing this book, I’d never even heard of a narrow weaver.
As for a favorite character, it’s usually the one I’m writing at the time. Each one offers something different. For instance, Rick cares deeply about his daughter and, like many parents, will do anything to protect her. Alex is daring, precocious, and impetuous. The other main character in this series is Marquetta, who is the B&B’s cook and Rick’s love interest. Marquetta is the yin to Rick’s yang.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
I’m always attempting to find new ways to describe a setting. I’m also a photographer, and I believe that just as photographers frame a photo, the writer must frame their setting. The nice thing about writing is it allows me to bring in all five senses, everything from the pinks and grays of a beautiful sunset to the soft caress of an ocean breeze on your cheek to the smell of salt in the air.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
For the Seaside Cove series, I was fortunate to connect with a man who had studied the Manila galleons (of which the San Mañuel) is one). The joke many writers like to tell is that because of their research, they’re worried the FBI might show up at their door. My research is less about explosives and ways to kill people than it is about history and how we got here. In Seaside Cove, the history of 16th century Spanish trade is brought to life by the characters looking for those riches today. In my McKenna Trouble in Paradise series, I try to bring aspects of island history and how that affects people today. With that said, none of my research is there to provide a history lesson, it’s there to provide context and flavor the story.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
Secrets of the Treasure King is more than just a cozy mystery about finding sunken treasure. It’s about secrets, lies, finding love, fulfilling your dreams, and believing in yourself.
Thanks for answering my questions, Terry, and good luck with Secrets of the Treasure King, the latest book in the Seaside Cove Bed and Breakfast mystery series.
The novel is available online at Amazon
About Terry Ambrose: Terry has written and published fourteen mysteries. His Seaside Cove Mystery series new releases have risen to the Amazon genre Top 100. In 2014, Con Game, Terry’s second thriller in the License to Lie series received the San Diego Book Awards Best Mystery/Thriller award. Terry also writes the McKenna Trouble in Paradise mysteries and organized an anthology written by bestselling mystery writers to benefit a literacy nonprofit in Hawaii.