Andi Comstock isn’t the type of person to tell someone who’s been murdered to take a hike, especially if that someone is an unborn baby, so when angel-baby Lucy asks Andi to find the woman who killed her and her mother before the baby-snatcher strikes again, what’s Andi supposed to do? From past experience, Detective Jack Harmon knows his most valuable information will come via the spirits who talk to Andi after cremation, when they pass from this world to the next. Jack, who is also Andi’s boyfriend, can’t quite get his brain around the fact that Andi has been dubbed The Chosen One, leaving to devise a creative plan to find the baby stealer on her own. Her sleuthing cohort, Father Riley, who often compares her to St. Jeanne d’Arc, urges her to abandon the unorthodox scheme she comes up with, but Andi is set on doing it her way. After all, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
ANGEL BABIES author, Ann Simas, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest mystery:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
None of us know for absolute certain what happens after we die. With the Andi Comstock books, I introduce one possibility. Perhaps that will give readers a little something extra to mull over, and with any luck, ANGEL BABIES will make them want to read Holy Smoke and Penitence, too.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
The Andi Comstock books have a supernatural element—Andi hears the dead and sometimes they ask her for help. These conversations occur as the deceased pass from the crematorium to the afterlife. Is such a thing probable? Who knows, but this is fiction. My goal as a writer is to present the story as if actually occurred, in a fresh and exciting way. Is hearing the dead possible? Well, maybe…
Was there anything new you discovered, or surprised you, as you wrote this book?
I’d never heard of Amelia Dyer before I began writing ANGEL BABIES. In fact, a news article alerted me to her story while I was writing the book, so I did some research and ended up incorporating a bit about the woman England came to dub the Angel Maker. I found the moniker ironic, as I’d chosen my title well over a year before I read the article. A truly horrific human being, Dyer was responsible for killing more than 400 infants over a 30-year period.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
On my last day job, I worked in a building where I smelled smoke frequently. No one but me could smell it and I took a lot of teasing over it. I slowly but surely eliminated possibilities: field burning, slash burning, house fires. Then one day, I discovered there was a crematorium in the mortuary that stood kitty-corner to our building on the northeast corner of the block. I knew that sometime down the road, I’d be able to use that experience in a book. It took me until 2014 to figure out how. The rest, as they say, is history. Footnote: Once I began to write Holy Smoke and researched crematoriums, I learned that the crematorium near my building utilized a method of clean burning. No smoke ever emanated from a cremation. Go figure.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
I’ve read thousands of books over my lifetime. Aside from those that were nonfiction, they’ve almost always been a thriller of some sort, whether by inclusion of a mystery, a love story, or some other death-defying, hair-raising element. I suppose it only stands to reason that I write what I like to read. I also credit authors like Dean Koontz, who writes multi-genre books, for making it possible for writers like me to do the same.
Ann Simas lives in Oregon, but she is a Colorado girl at heart, having grown up in the Rocky Mountains. An avid word-lover since childhood, she penned her first fiction “book” in high school. The author of 18 novels and seven short stories, she particularly likes to write a mix of mystery/thriller/suspense, with a love story and paranormal or supernatural elements.
In addition to being a three-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Finalist, Ann is also an award-winning watercolorist and budding photographer who enjoys needle-work and gardening in her spare time. She is her family’s “genealogist” and has been blessed with the opportunity to conduct first-hand research in Italy for both her writing and her family tree. The genealogy research from centuries-old documents, written in Italian, has been a supreme but gratifying and exciting challenge for her.
To learn more about Ann, please visit her website.