By J. H. Bográn
In a world where private detectives risk their lives for what amounts to small change, it’s obvious they do it for more than the money. Liz Talbot is one such detective. However, she’s found a rather unusual partner in crime from the ethereal world—her long-dead friend Coleen keeps guard over her and her family. Just don’t go calling her a ghost, for she has a whole different name for her condition. Susan Boyer’s latest book, LOWCOUNTRY BONEYARD is the third installment in the popular Liz Talbot series.
Boyer graciously took time out of her schedule to answer a few questions for The Big Thrill.
What is LOWCOUNTRY BONEYARD about?
When a father hires PI Liz Talbot to find his heiress daughter, Liz suspects the most difficult part will be convincing the overbearing patriarch she left town. That’s what the Charleston Police Department believes. But behind the garden walls South of Broad, family secrets pop up like weeds in the azaleas. The neighbors recollect violent arguments between Kent and her parents. Eccentric twin uncles and a gaggle of cousins covet the family fortune. And the lingering spirit of a Civil-War-era debutante may know something if Colleen, Liz’s dead best friend, can get her to talk. Liz juggles her case, the partner she’s in love with, and the family she adores. But the closer she gets to what has become of Kent, the closer Liz dances to her own grave.
How did the idea for LOWCOUNTRY BONEYARD come about?
In every book in the series, Liz will have a case. So the first question I ask myself is, “Who is hiring her, and what do they want her to do?” In this case, I had a few scattered ideas from some family ancestry research which led me to spend time in cemeteries, and a trip to Boneyard Beach at Bulls Bay. I tossed my question and those ideas around a while, and a case began to emerge.
What kind of research did you have to do for this entry in the series?
I spent a lot of time in Charleston, walking out some of the logistics, thinking through the story. And I asked a million questions of a long list of people who live and work in Charleston, including a real-life private investigator who lives and operates in the city.
What can you tell us about your main character Liz Talbot? How has she changed from where we left her on book #2?
She has a better sense of what she wants in her personal life. In her professional life—and I guess this seeps into every aspect of her life—as she sees ever more examples of people doing evil things, she begins to carry a bit more of the weight. Some days she feels like maybe she’s seen too much, but she’s compelled to continue to try to right every wrong she can.
Liz has quite the unusual partner riding shotgun. How did you come up with a ghost-like sidekick?
I was pondering Liz’s character, and in particular her over-developed sense of responsibility. She has a tendency to want to make everything all right for everybody. I wondered what made her that way—something in her past. And it came to me that she’s had a friend die very young, and for some reason Liz felt responsible. I wrote Colleen’s story, for myself. It’s never been published. As I was thinking how Liz was haunted by her death, the word “haunted” started flashing like a neon light in my brain. And then the first book had a ghost.
How are you promoting LOWCOUNTRY BONEYARD?
I’m doing a series of bookstore events, book festivals, speaking engagements, and conferences. I’ll also be doing some online touring, visiting blogs.
What are you currently working on?
The fourth Liz Talbot mystery, Lowcountry Bordello, which releases in November.
What does the future look like for Liz Talbot?
I plan for her to have many adventures.
Why did you go to all the trouble of creating the fictional island of Stella Maris, and then bring Liz into Charleston for her cases?
I love small towns—I grew up in one. And I wanted Liz to have a small-town life, with recurring characters that readers would want to revisit. But I also wanted her to have a bigger canvas to work on. Placing Stella Maris so near Charleston gives me the best of both worlds. There’s plenty going on in Charleston to keep Liz busy so as not to kill off all the characters in her home town, but still have a long-running series, hopefully.
Susan M. Boyer is the author of the Liz Talbot mystery series. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, is a USA Today Bestseller, an Agatha Award winner for Best First Novel, and a Macavity nominee, among others. Susan loves beaches, Southern food, and small towns where everyone knows everyone, and everyone has crazy relatives. You’ll find all of the above in her novels. Susan lives with her husband and an inordinate number of houseplants in Greenville, SC.
To learn more about Susan, please visit her website.