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In the 18 years since her father went to prison for killing her mother and brother, Della Stallings has battled a crippling phobia. Her fear only grows when her father’s released. She still believes he killed her family, but the police don’t have enough evidence to arrest him again.

When new grisly murders occur—each bearing the telltale signs that seem to implicate her father—Della begins to wonder if the real murderer is still out there. Could her father have been framed?

To find the truth, Della must face her greatest fears and doubts—not only to find justice for her family but to ensure her own survival.

The Big Thrill caught up to USA Today bestselling author Debbie Herbert to find out more about the second installment in her Normal, Alabama, series, SCORCHED GROUNDS:

Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?

Debbie Herbert

The setting always comes first to me. Southern Gothic stories that are atmospheric and dark and twisted are what I love to read and write. My stories wouldn’t have the same feel if they were set anywhere else.

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?

This psychological suspense explores the impact of childhood trauma in developing an unusual condition, chromophobia. The main character has a fear of the color red, and this deeply held fear plays a part in the ultimate test she must pass to save her life.

How far would you go to protect your family?

I find myself often writing about the theme of family loyalty versus justice. Every case is unique and it’s a question everyone has to grapple with for themselves.


Debbie Herbert is an Amazon Charts, Washington Post, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author who’s always been fascinated by magic, romance, and Gothic stories. Married and living in Alabama, she roots for the Crimson Tide football team. Debbie enjoys recumbent bicycling and jet skiing with her husband. She has two grown sons, and the oldest has autism. Characters with autism frequently appear in her works—even when she doesn’t plan on it.

For more information, visit her website and sign up for her newsletter to receive a free short story. Connect with her on Facebook at Debbie Herbert Author or Debbie Herbert’s Readers and on Twitter (@debherbertwrit).