Jealousy can be deadly.
Longtime bachelor Ron Burley has a rule against messing around with married women in his rural upstate New York town, but sassy, lovely Lavender has convinced him to break it. Their steamy affair sets someone off, but it isn’t Lavender’s clueless husband—it’s Marta, Burley’s clingy childhood friend and ex-lover.
Marta knows Burley is on the verge of going broke, so she secretly tries to lure him with a lucrative job offer and some enticing fringe benefits. Although he’s sorely tempted, Burley’s afraid to trust Marta due to the sketchy circumstances surrounding their bitter breakup years ago; but this might be his only chance to get back at her for what she did.
Suspicious of her boyfriend’s romantic history, Lavender visits a psychic for a tarot card reading in a creepy cabin in the Adirondack woods. Watch your back, the psychic warns her. Burley and Marta aren’t the innocent people they’re pretending to be. Someone’s out for revenge, and this love triangle could turn deadly.
Regina Buttner recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing their latest thriller, DOWN A BAD ROAD.
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
This story is based on the real life experiences of some North Country friends of mine. I once knew a guy who was “just friends” with a woman who’d had a crush on him since childhood. She offered to bankroll a business venture for him if he’d agree to marry her, but he politely declined. Then the woman supposedly died of cancer, but the guy couldn’t find her obituary anywhere… I used that as my starting point, and the story took off from there.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
This story rang true for me because it takes place in a small rural town – a setting I became intimately familiar with during my college years in upstate New York. I was fascinated by the intricacies of lives that are lived in remote farm country and along the backroads of the Adirondack mountain region. I like my stories to be as “real” as possible, and the hardships of North Country life, with its rugged terrain and harsh winters, are as real as it gets.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
Richard Russo’s slyly funny NOBODY’S FOOL, which is set in a deadbeat town in upstate New York, was a big influence as I created a sense of place for my story. Kaira Rouda’s clever and twisty THE NEXT WIFE was a great inspiration for finding my narrative voice. And of course, MURDER IN THE ADIRONDACKS, former journalist Craig Brandon’s deep dive into the “incident on Big Moose Lake” in 1906, was a huge help in creating the darker side of my story.
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
I have yet to encounter a character like Ron Burley within the current genre of domestic thrillers. I wanted very much to create an Everyman sort of character that the average small town resident could relate to. Burley is a good-hearted, trailer-living country boy who doesn’t aspire to anything more than a quiet life of working hard at his blue collar job and pursuing his favorite pastimes of hunting and fishing. The only thing he yearns for is a touch of love to spark up his life – and maybe a little more income, to satisfy his high-maintenance girlfriend.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
Watch out – jealousy can be deadly!
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
My next book was also inspired by a real life incident where a husband and wife became so fed up with their slacker adult son that they resorted to formally evicting him from their home. I’m using the eviction as a jumping-off point for a complicated story of secrets, revenge and betrayal.
Regina is a registered nurse-turned-writer who was raised in beautiful upstate New York, where she spent many years exploring the small towns, winding back roads, and scenic hiking trails in the Adirondack mountain region. She recently traded the snowy upstate winters for the sun and surf of coastal Florida (but in her heart, she’s still a North Country girl!) Her favorite pastimes in the Sunshine State are kayaking among the mangroves, walking the gorgeous beaches, and teaching tricks to her crafty little corgi, Pekoe. Down a Bad Road is her second novel, with more to come.
To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.