I’ve written two historical romances, and read a lot of them growing up, but I also enjoyed mysteries. Somewhere along the line, I picked up a Clive Cussler novel with Dirk Pitt and his classic cars. While the Dirk Pitts stories themselves generally didn’t focus on the cars, there was one mentioned in every book and photos were usually on the back cover. Those books rekindled my interest in the beautiful old cars. I generally go for the pre-1950s cars, not the later muscle cars – a fact that causes some discussion between myself and my husband.
There are quite a few car shows around the Four Corners region where I live, and some of the larger auction houses like Barrett-Jackson and Mecum hold events in Denver, Las Vegas, and Scottsdale – all within a reasonable weekend trip for me. I get my ideas for the cars in my books at these shows, as well as perusing online catalogues, websites, and blogs. Once I have a car in mind, the story seems to come from that.
I’m a bit odd in when I’m starting a book, I almost always come up with the title first, based on the car, or in the case of Pickup Artist, a Marmon-Herrington pickup I saw in Vegas several years ago. If you read the book (and I hope you do!) you’ll find the title has more than one meaning, which is always my goal.
My main character, Renni Delacroix, is a young, pretty, female classic car restorer, who has had to fight her way into the industry for those specific reasons. Her unusual background growing up with a widowed great uncle and his middle-aged son, both of whom were involved in circle track and stock car racing, gave her far more experience with car bodies and engines than most men twice her age. That experience has allowed her to become a top-ten restorer, but it’s left her with a hefty chip on her shoulder after spending years proving herself over and over. She has another, more unusual skill, which gives her even more grief – when she touches a car, she starts to see its history in her dreams. It can be helpful in her chosen career, but has been hard on past relationships, not to mention making her the butt of jokes during her college years and beyond.
Her gift (or curse as she sees it) exposes an old mystery in each book, but doesn’t help much in solving said mystery, or contemporary mysteries she’s involved in. Often, as in The Pickup Artist, those past and present mysteries, separated by decades, end up being related. An eclectic cast of characters (and I mean that literally), both help and hinder Renni with their meddling and advice.
The Pickup Artist
Classic car restorer Renni Delacroix has a unique gift, one kept carefully hidden: when she touches a car, she sees its history. Focused on building her business in the small town of Rampart, Colorado, she hides the truth of her psychic ability.
But when a Marmon pickup is delivered, visions of terrified women jolt her clean off the old truck. She has no choice but to come forward, especially since one the of the women was her best friend, murdered six months earlier. Rennie explains what she sees to Detective Matt Brody. Skeptical, he’s surprised to find evidence the Marmon belonged to a serial killer known as the Rocky Mountain High Killer.
While battling Brody’s suspicions, and her growing attraction to him, Renni uses skills honed hunting down classic parts to unearth the killer. But will she be able to give their identity to Brody before she loses everything,– her job, her home…even her life?
A life-long writer, Terri is traditionally and self-published in novel length, plus nearly a hundred articles and short stories published – many award winning. She’s a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers, presents workshops at writer’s conferences, and teaches night classes at Western Colorado Community College. Terri spends her non-writing time working at a non-profit, camping, jeeping, and dirt biking with her junior-high-school sweetheart/husband of 40+ years and a succession of Brittany spaniels. You can find more information on her at https://www.terribensonwriter.com/
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