A Colorado native, award winning author Peg Brantley and her husband make their home southeast of Denver, sharing it over time with the occasional pair of mallard ducks and their babies, snapping turtles, peacocks, assorted other birds, foxes, a deer named Cedric, and a bichon named McKenzie.
With the intent to bring credibility to her stories, Peg is a graduate of the Aurora Citizens’ Police Academy, participated in the Writers’ Police Academy, has interviewed crime scene investigators, FBI agents, human trafficking experts, obtained her Concealed Carry Permit, studied diverse topics from arson dogs to Santeria, and hunted down real life locations that show up in her books.
Red Tide (Aspen Falls Thrillers Book 1)by Peg BrantleyPublish: Mar 25, 2012Series: Aspen Falls ThrillersThrillers
THE MISSINGS (Aspen Falls Thrillers Book 2)by Peg BrantleyPublish: Oct 14, 2012Series: Aspen Falls Thrillers
THE SACRIFICE: A Mex Anderson Novelby Peg BrantleyPublish: Jan 14, 2014Series: Mex Anderson Novels
TRAFFICKED: A Mex Anderson Novelby Peg BrantleyPublish: May 23, 2017Series: Mex Anderson Novels
Almost every weekend my dad, mom, sister and I would go camping. Sometimes it would be just the four of us, but more often than not neighbor families would join in. One day the camp site we were sharing with two other families was ransacked while we were away. We believe one of us had sat a package of bacon on top of a cooler before placing it back inside, and the scent enticed a passing bear. That night we talked about bears, including the sounds they make. Later all the kids, six or seven of us, sat together on a picnic bench near the campfire. It was a moonless night so when the light from the campfire ended, the world went scary-pitch black. Suddenly, on the back of my legs I felt pulses of hot air and heard a huffing sound. All of us were off the bench at the same time trying to get in the middle of the circle of bodies and stay by the light of the fire away from the danger and the darkness. It turns out one of the younger boys thought it would be fun to crawl silently behind us and pretend to be a bear. Pretty sure he never did that again.How do you think being a graduate of the Aurora Citizens’ Police Academy has helped you to bring credibility to her stories?
Learning about the different teams and units within a police department, hearing the lingo, observing the mannerisms/attitudes/deportment of individuals, all contribute to authenticity. I’ve remained a dues-paying alumnus and feel that gives me a little cred whenever I need to get an answer to a question. I’ve done several ride-alongs, always hoping for action until I get in the police car/undercover vehicle. That’s when reality hits and I hope for a quiet few hours. Thankfully, blood has never been a factor.Why did you choose to become a crime fiction author? What challenges did you face while publishing your first book?
I had a manuscript all ready to submit to a writers’ contest. It was women’s fiction. My stomach was upset. I couldn’t sleep. And then it dawned on me what I was most afraid of… that I’d win and be pigeonholed into writing women’s fiction for the rest of my career. I pulled the manuscript and immediately felt better. Later, that story morphed into my second published book, THE MISSINGS, which could be categorized as a police procedural.
Ha! My biggest challenge was getting it written. Luckily, my first editor was a former marine and it was his way or the highway. I needed that firm hand. And finally, it was the courage to get it “out there” and take whatever criticism came my way.Tell us a little about your book covers and how you go about creating them. Do you place a little or a lot of importance on your book covers?
My cover designer, Patty G. Henderson, is a great collaborator. I’ve learned, over several covers, that I can be honest with her about what I’m looking for. A cover is the first thing readers see. Especially readers who’ve never heard of Peg Brantley and aren’t hunting up another of my books on purpose. Covers provide a sense of the genre, the story, and the professionalism of the publication. They are immensely important.How has participating in the Writers’ Police Academy helped you to grow as an author?
At the WPA I had the opportunity for some hands-on education. I’ll never forget the simulator lab where I had to make split-second decisions based on a variety of scenarios, holding a Sig Sauer at the ready. I gained an understanding of what law enforcement officers face every day. I also met experts who’ve helped me with each of my books, beginning with a major fire in RED TIDE.Who inspired the character of Mex Anderson in "THE SACRIFICE?” How do you come up with character names?
Mex actually showed while I was writing the first draft of THE MISSINGS. I was about three-quarters through. It’s important to understand that the hardest part of writing for me is the first draft. The end was in sight. Mex’s only role was to be a guy in a bar who could give my detective some information. Mex had other ideas. He appeared, fully-formed, all Jack Reacher like, and threatened to take over my book. I have never had a character appear to me like Mex did, with attitude and a certain bigness. He scared me a little. We negotiated. I told him if he’d let me finish that story, I’d give him one of his own.
Sometimes I’ll play with them until I find one that fits. It’s amazing how much more clear a character becomes when they have the right name. I have neighbors with the last name of Coveyduck. I love that name, but still haven’t been able to find the right place for it.Tell us a little about your second book in the "Aspen Falls Thrillers" series. Why did you write this book and what do you hope to achieve with it?
THE MISSINGS has two underlying social issues that help drive the story. One is undocumented people who are trying to make better lives for themselves and their families while staying under the radar. The second is the importance of organ donation.
I’ve come to see myself as a conversation starter. If I can bring attention to an issue by telling a story, maybe people will look at what’s happening and see things through an altered lens. I don’t preach, I just tell a story from what might be a different perspective.Walk us through your research and writing process when writing Crime Fiction. Is interviewing crime scene investigators, FBI agents, human trafficking experts a part of your research process?
When I identify a topic I want to center my story around I need to understand it. Whether it’s organ donation or depression or human trafficking, it’s important I have a grasp on the issue. I buy non-fiction books to study as well as read pertinent online articles and news coverage.
Most definitely. These people are the experts. They know what’s real and what simply gets ratings. They are the heroes and I’m proud to know them—and when I can—to shine the light on them and the work they do. Many of my book signings have included one or more of the true experts.The Missings is set in a small resort town in the Colorado mountains. How much time did spend in hunting down real-life locations to show up in this book?
Not much. Since I live in Colorado I’m pretty familiar with Aspen and Snowmass. Aspen Falls, my fictional town, is between the two mountain communities. I sort of kicked the ranchers out and dropped a small college town right in the valley. Aspen Falls is very similar to Boulder, which is home to the University of Colorado. I’m familiar with Aspen’s restaurants although they aren’t always still in operation by the time a book gets published. In RED TIDE however, I did hunt down a real-life location that worked beautifully into the story. A vacant office building was in the perfect location, near Mile High Stadium in Denver where the Broncos play to home crowd fans. I couldn’t believe my luck. The parking lot was empty when I pulled in and got out to scout the area. It wasn’t long before a car pulled in and a man wearing a lot of bling around his neck and on his fingers looked like he wanted to talk to me. He said he was the owner and I explained I was just looking at his building to use in my novel. I didn’t tell him it would be set on fire.If you could choose two characters from any of your books to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why?
Only two? I guess it would depend on who else was going to be here. Mex doesn’t like crowds, but I’d love to have he and Cade for a small dinner with me and my husband. Right now I’m writing a story where Nick Grant (former FBI agent, now Pitkin County Sheriff) and Jamie Taylor (dog woman extraordinaire) from RED TIDE are the central characters. They’d be fun in a larger group.A lot of people get fed up of their jobs after a while. Have there been moments where you momentarily get tired of writing? What do you do to get out of these stumps?
It’s more that I get stuck rather than get tired. And stuck usually means I’ve lost the vision and the motivation for the story.
I commiserate with other writers. It’s always a strange combination of relief and affirmation to know I’m not alone. Sometimes I take a break and binge-watch or work in the yard or cook or paint a watercolor or rearrange furniture of play the piano for hours. And then I read something about the craft of writing and my nerves begin to tingle and I itch to get back in the saddle. I’ll read my manuscript and see exactly where it needs to go, check out my scene list, make adjustments, and sit down at the keyboard. I always hope for that high I get when the words flow and the scene is perfect and I forget about time. It’s addictive.How did you begin writing the Aspen Falls Thrillers series? How many more books can we expect in the series?
My first three books were written as standalones. And then readers began asking for more. What happens next with Jamie and Nick? Do Jax and Scott make it? What happens with the Hispanic detective in THE MISSINGS? I want to see more of Mex and Cade. It became clear to me that I actually had two series going, with Aspen Falls as the common denominator. So the Aspen Falls Thrillers were started, and the Mex Anderson novels also began.
Wow, that’s a good question. The honest answer is, I don’t know. As long as the characters continue to grow, and the stories and plots are fresh, I’ll stay engaged in the series. One of the nice things about publishing independently is that there is not an expectation for product by a publisher. I know of too many bestselling authors who are contractually committed to produce a story for their popular series and have come to resent everything involved. Eventually readers begin to sense the fact that the books have been rubber-stamped into production for business purposes rather than entertainment.How does it feel to be referred to as an award-winning author? What are your future goals?
I still pinch myself. Really? Do they mean me? And then I shrug my shoulders and say it was the story and not me. I still think that’s true.
To continue to improve as a writer. To make each new book better than the last. To find the confidence to showcase societal issues in an entertaining story so I can continue to be a conversation starter. To never ever take the people who read and enjoy my books for granted.What are some book ideas that you've got bouncing around in your head? When can we expect the next publication?
I’m working on a story now involving the alt-right and hate groups. I also have a fantasy that’s been knocking around in my head for years… a good vs. evil kind of thing, and a children’s story.
Hopefully early 2020. Thanks for the reminder to establish a schedule.Judging from your experience so far, how would you rate and review AllAuthor?
I feel like AllAuthor has become the partner I’ve been looking for since my first book was published. Your creativity makes it easy for me to put together promotions on a regular basis. You help me be less haphazard and much more professional. You have found a way to personalize me and my work and I’m grateful. Five Stars.
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