Police Chief Aidan Cruz agrees with Grace’s Uncle Vito that she’s the perfect person to find recently deceased Nella’s missing items—jewelry, artwork, legal documents—somewhere in the mansion where Nella lived. Grace is on medical leave, complaining because she can’t return to work. If not for the Greys, the ghosts, three teenage kids, and Aidan, she might have completed the side job without a hitch.
Ann Simas recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest mystery, HIDDEN TO DIE:
Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?
The Grace Gabbiano Mysteries take place in Coburg, Oregon, a little town with a population of about 1,200, eight miles north of where I live. Setting set. Grace is the main character, Aidan Cruz, police chief, is the other protagonist. Grace’s Italian family plays a big part in all the books. Bad guys are to be determined depending on the story. Characters set. That leaves the plot. For this story, the title came first. All I had to do after that was figure out what was missing, where it was hidden, and how Grace would find it. The mansion she searches is a house of magic and hidden spaces. Sounds simple, right? I plot as I go, so in some ways it was. In other ways, well, I’m the writer. I take liberties. Plot set.
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
HIDDEN TO DIE is the eighth book in my Grace Gabbiano Mysteries. With each book, Grace and Chief Aidan Cruz, have grown closer, but neither abide workplace relationships. Even if they refuse to acknowledge their growing feelings for each other, my readers read them loud and clear. I can’t tell you how many times I get queries about when I’m going to get Grace and Aidan together. Well, readers, buckle your seatbelts! This is the book that takes Grace and Aidan’s relationship in a new direction.
Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?
I’m fascinated by UFOs. Sometimes, I dream our skies are full of them in all shapes and sizes. I’ve always wanted to write about UFOs and friendly Greys, so I took a chance and included them in Taken to Die. They make an appearance in every book after that, and in HIDDEN TO DIE, the Greys help Grace in her search, and they work to rid the house of Evil. Yes, it’s fiction, but in real life, Congress recently held a public hearing about UFOs, news programs carry footage of UFOs, people are watching the skies hoping to see UFOs. It’s true! UFOs are out there, and they have been for a long, long time. We’d better get used to it and hope the creatures driving them are as friendly as we hope they are.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
Aidan’s in love with Grace, and she’s in love with him. I have no idea how many books remain in this series, but once I decided it was time for Grace and Aidan to face their feelings for each other, I knew the direction I needed to go. Deeply affected by Grace’s near-fatal gunshot wound, Aidan has a plan—he’s going to ask for a leave of absence and work with Joe (Grace’s dad) in a new venture conducting investigations and forensics analysis. Aidan informs Grace that he’ll recommend her to fill in as police chief. Yes, this is a mystery thriller, but it’s also got a love story going on. The possibilities for future stories are limitless.
Is there a question that you feel is important to you and/or your novel? Write it in below, but be sure to answer it too!
Q: How can Grace be self-healing after being abducted by the Greys?
A: The Greys are eons ahead of us in technology, medical treatments, and space travel. For whatever reason, they like Grace, and they want to help her. She’s not exactly their pet, yet still, they have given her the ability to heal quickly. That ability unnerves her, but she’s learning to live with it. She’s also grown to like and trust the three Greys who hover over the Valley in their UFO.
Ann Simas lives in Eugene, 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 38 novels, one novella, and one short-story collection, 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 needlework 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 the author and her work, please visit her website.