Thu
Jul 6 2017 2:00pm

Q&A with Claire Booth, Author of Another Man’s Ground

Claire Booth, author of the Hank Worth Mystery series, is a former true crime writer and reporter who decided to use her experience in the field to write mystery fiction—something she's always loved. Recently, Ms. Booth was gracious enough to answer some of our questions about her affinity for crime fiction, how her previous careers influence her current stories, and her latest book, Another Man's Ground!

Read this exclusive Q&A with author Claire Booth, and then make sure to sign in and comment for a chance to win a copy of the second Sheriff Hank Worth Mystery, Another Man's Ground!

What is it that draws you to crime fiction?

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love it. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and from Nancy Drew in elementary school to Agatha Christie as a teenager, I’ve always read crime fiction. Then, when I became a news reporter, I naturally gravitated toward covering crime. It was absolutely the perfect fit. I got to see and learn about the real thing.

What was the transition from crime journalist to crime fiction writer like? What, if any, challenges presented themselves during that process?

On one hand, being a crime reporter first made some things much easier. I know a lot about how the system works. But on the other hand, my journalism experience made it more difficult because I was very used to writing for newspapers—it had to be true, it needed to be fast, and there was no space for extras like adjectives. That took a long time to get over when I switched to fiction.

Given the detailed nature of crime investigation, how much research and preparation goes into the novels that you write?

I do very little preparation but a lot of research. I don’t outline my books beforehand, so I don’t know where the story is going to lead me or, consequently, what prep work I’d need to do. But once I’ve written something, then I know what I don’t know and go research the heck out of it.

How much, if any, of your writing is influenced by real crimes?

All of my stories start with something similar to a real incident, but then they veer off in completely different directions from whatever that true event was. In The Branson Beauty, a murder victim is found on a paddlewheel showboat after it crashes. A showboat really did crash on a lake near Branson several years ago, but there was no murder.

Read an excerpt from The Branson Beauty!

With Another Man’s Ground, I was fascinated when I learned that thieves sneak onto people’s acreage and steal plants that can be made into herbal supplements. They will actually do things like strip the bark off trees. It’s a huge financial loss for the property owners—this stuff can be worth big money. So I used this kind of crime as the inciting event in the book.  

What do you want your readers to think/feel after finishing this book?

I hope that they come away with a little more insight into human nature and the complex motivations that people have for all sorts of actions. I’d also like them to feel like they really got to know my characters and the Ozark setting and were entertained along the way.

Another Man’s Ground delves into unsettling territory, particularly in relation to the gruesome homicides. How do you manage to respect the gravity of the crime while simultaneously crafting a witty and entertaining story around it?

It’s a tricky line to walk. I really do believe that the effect crime—especially murder—has on people needs to be treated with respect. Naturally, that can be a very bleak and agonizing aspect of a story. I’m helped in pulling my books back from that abyss by the family life I’ve created for my main character. Hank has little kids who always bring him back to life, so to speak. And he has a very cantankerous father-in-law who lives with them. Having those two try to get along gives me a lot of opportunities to lighten things up.

What constitutes a crime that is worth novelizing?

Something about the crime you create has to be unique. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be the crime itself. You can take an ordinary mugging and make it extraordinary through the victim, the setting, the motive, or the witnesses. Any one of those things can elevate the story into something that’s worth an entire novel.

If you could swap places with Hank for a day, what would you use your sheriff privileges to do?

I would absolutely pull over carpool lane violators and people who leave shopping carts in the middle of parking spaces. I totally consider that to be criminal behavior.

The novel takes place in a small Midwestern town where everyone knows each other. What made you decide to make that the setting?

I decided on Branson because it really is the best of every world. It’s a small town, so I get to play with that dynamic, especially with regard to local politics. But Branson also gets millions—I’m not kidding, literally millions—of visitors a year. So there’s also a big city aspect to the area and the resources they need to be able to handle that level of tourism.

I wondered what would happen if someone got dropped in from the outside and was suddenly put in charge of an entire law enforcement department in that kind of environment. So that’s what I did to my main character, Hank Worth.

What is something readers would be surprised to know about you?

I was once detained by the San Francisco Police. It was during the protests of the 2003 Iraq invasion. I was covering the story for the Contra Costa Times newspaper and wound up tracking a big group of anarchists who started vandalizing property and police cars (I’ll point out here that the protests were otherwise primarily peaceful). The police barricaded the entire group and detained everybody. They let me go when they figured out I was only reporting on the actions (my notebook, press pass, and sensible walking shoes helped), not participating in them.

What are you currently reading?

Right now, I’m in the middle of two books: Karin Salvalaggio’s latest mystery, Silent Rain, and the non-fiction Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy, which is absolutely phenomenal.

Read an excerpt from Another Man's Ground!


Comment below for a chance to win a paperback copy of Another Man's Ground by Claire Booth!

To enter, make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

Another Man's Ground Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2017/07/qaa-with-claire-booth-author-of-another-mans-ground-comment-sweepstakes beginning at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) July 6, 2017. Sweepstakes ends 1:59 p.m. ET July 18, 2017. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

 

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Claire Booth is a former true crime writer, ghostwriter, and reporter. She lives in California. Another Man's Ground is her second novel, following The Branson Beauty.

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55 comments
Jane Schwarz
1. Janeschwarz
Thanks for the insight on your background and how you write. And thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of 'Another Man's Ground'.
Sabine Blanch
3. Schlauberger
Love crime fiction! Thank you for the chance.
Barbara Bibel
5. bbibel
Sound intriguing. I'd love to read it.
Andrew Kuligowski
6. KuligowskiAndrew
I've heard of plant theft before - I knew of a field of slash pine seedlings that vanished (and probably became someone else's field of slash pine seedlings). And of course, of planting illegal stuff wherever space can be found, whether public or private property. BUT not for stuff like remedies and such.
8. Pat STEMS
I read The Branson Beauty as soon as it came out.....taken by the cover and premise. I thoroughly enjoyed it and decided I couldn't wait for the next book in the series to be published so I could find out more about how Hank was progressing in his position. I am delighted to have a chance to win a copy of this second book in what I hope will be a continuing series.
Lori Provenzano
10. Mountainesque
Really interesting author Q&A. Very recently saw a mystery program on the tube where the treatment and response to the crimes strained credulity, which blew the entire series for me. Appreciate when care is taken to represent reality.
Diana Petty-Stone
11. DPSreads
Thanks for the opportunity to read such an intriguing book!
Patty
12. stems25
I read "The Branson Beauty as soon as it came out....taken by the cover and premise. I thoroughly enjoyed it and dcided I coouldn't wait for the next book in the series to be published so that I could find out more about how Hank was progressing in his position....if he did. I am delighted to have a chance to win a copy of this second book in what I hope will be a continuing series.l
Renee Rousseau
13. reneejr
Congrats! Try to stay out of trouble, but I guess you could still write in jail!
Michael Carter
14. rubydog
Interesting Q&A!
Yes, please enter me in this sweepstakes.
Thanks ---
Janice Santillo
15. themommazie
Great interview. I want to read this book.
17. Mary Pancake
I love reading crime fiction
Cathie  McElwee
19. cathiemack
"Another Man's Ground" sounds like a page turner. I know I would just love it. Nice to read an interview from the author. It gives insight of the mindset of the writer and makes a connection with the reader.
21. Beachgram
Sounds interesting to me!
Thanks for the chance to win.
22. Linda A
Stories of legal marijuana growers come to mind.
Crystal Blackburn
23. lovesmysteries
I'd love to win a copy of Another Man's Ground.
Paula Walters
26. paula3kids
I just read an exerpt and now know what a 'barknapper' is! :-)Thanks for this giveaway opportunity!
Laurent Latulippe
28. krag48
I want to add this to my collection.
pat murphy
29. pwhitby
It would be a crime if I do not win .
Connie Williamson
32. angelbun
This is a new author to me. I'd love to read Another Man's Ground.
Beth Talmage
33. wordygirl
Great interview. The main character sounds like someone I'd like to get to know. (The author, too.)
L
34. LStirling
Having an interest in herbal remedies, I thought the idea of plant theft for herbalism as the basis for a murder mystery very ingenious and exciting.
Saundra K. Warren
35. shortiew
Another new (to me anyway) author to try!!
Anita Yancey
36. rosewood780
The book sounds interesting, and I really like the cover. Thanks for this chance to read it.
Marisa Young
38. Risa
Liked the interview. Would love to read the book.
Reeta Harrison
39. rdharrison87
Really enjoyed the interview and learning about Claire Booth. Thanks for the opportunity to enter to win.
40. Rebecca B.
This book sounds good. The interview was informative. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.
Marjorie Manharth
42. mmanharth
Sounds like writing is too complicated - guess I'll stick with reading.
Marjorie Manharth
42. mmanharth
Sounds like writing is too complicated - guess I'll stick with reading.
ellie lewis
43. italia
fascinating book and interesting interview. Thanks.
pearl berger
44. beach
I enjoyed the interview and would find the book riveting.
Jackie Wisherd
45. JackieW
Your story sounds like one I would enjoy reading in order to report on for my Mystery Book Club.
Joy Isley
46. JOYE
I have yet to read a book by this author so would welcone the chance to do so.
49. Polly Barlow
It sounds like this crime reporter has an intriguing book for us to read. Thanks Claire Booth.
Jean Mitchell
51. muttlover
I have a Little Free Library and a neighbor who can never find anything that interests him in it - but this might do the trick!
Jean Mitchell
51. muttlover
I have a Little Free Library and a neighbor who can never find anything that interests him in it - but this might do the trick!
Jean Mitchell
52. muttlover
I have a Little Free Library and a neighbor who can never find anything that interests him in it - but this might do the trick!
53. kross
I love a good mystery. I can't wait to read it.
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