Today, I am interviewing Morgan C. Talbot, author of First to Find.
Lynn: Hi, Morgan. First off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Morgan: Oh, that’s a hard one. It’s easy to tell someone a lot about yourself, but it’s much harder to tell them only a little bit. Killing my darlings right off the bat, aren’t we? Well then, my most favorite bits: I’m a geeky mother of two adorable, clever children. My husband loves to make me laugh, and vice versa. I gobble up science articles because I’m insatiably curious about what humanity will discover next. If I could clone myself, I’d send a thousand selves out to study the wonders of our amazing planet (and beyond). Earthcaches are my favorite geocaches.
Lynn: Your main character in First to Find is a “geocacher.” Can you explain what that is?
Morgan: Sure thing. A geocacher is someone who uses million-dollar satellites to search for Tupperware in the woods. Okay, I jest, but not by much—any waterproof container will do. Geocaching is an activity that falls somewhere between a sport and a hobby, in which people seek out exact coordinates on the planet’s surface, then hunt for a hidden container at that location which contains, at minimum, a logbook to sign. That’s the nutshell version, but there are numerous delightful ways in which geocaching gets more complex than that: puzzles, multi-stage caches, public events, challenge caches, Travel Bugs, Cache Machines, paperless caching, etc. Honestly, the best part about geocaching is its extreme versatility. It can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be. Buy a dedicated unit with nationwide street maps, a camera, and a satellite uplink, or just download a geocaching app on your phone. First-time cachers are always surprised at how many geocaches are already placed in their town. It’s tons of fun, and it’s hiding just around the corner.
Lynn: I assume you are a geocacher yourself, correct? How long have you had that hobby?
Morgan: I’ve been running out the door, swag bag in hand, for over seven years now. Oh yes, note to self: a dozen clones to spread out and find more geocaches. Between my writing and my home life, I don’t get out and about nearly as often as I’d like to.
Lynn: What’s your favorite line in the book?
Morgan: Being the science geek that I am, it’s this line: “The woman couldn’t possibly be as dense as she seemed, or her powerful gravitational field would already have destroyed the house.”
Lynn: Aside from your main character, which character was the most fun to write?
Morgan: That would be Bindi, my black-clad, crafty Australian transplant with the supersmeller nose. She’s three parts snark, two parts sass, and one part wicked Aussie humor. Without her, Margarita wouldn’t have anyone against whom to play the straight (wo)man.
Lynn: Your main character, Margarita, is a bit of a puzzle nut. Is that something that interests you, also?
Morgan: Definitely. I usually make my geocache puzzles on a scale of clever to wicked. I’ve made some and given them away to other cachers, as well. It’s more fun for me to make puzzles than to solve them. I won’t claim to be anywhere close to a genius when it comes to solving puzzles, but I always love a challenge.
Lynn: Will we see some of the same side characters in future books in this series?
Morgan: Yes. Most small-town mystery series generally keep the same local cast throughout, but the genius of geocaching is that you can play it wherever you go. I plan to use various locations within (and occasionally outside) the Willamette Valley as settings in my series, but every now and again, the heroine has to come home. And I’d never prevent my side characters from running off on an adventure with Margarita if they wanted to grab their GPS units and head out.
Lynn: What made you decide to write a mystery involving geocaching?
Morgan: I couldn’t find any to read in my favorite mystery subgenre, so I wrote one myself. Geocachers often find themselves in odd circumstances while searching for that next hidden container, whether we’re (hopefully) alone in a dark alley, pawing at electrical boxes for an elusive magnetic keyholder, or trying to retrieve a small bison tube in a public square without being surrounded by homeland security. Good times all around. Such adventures provide an endless supply of plot ideas to my overactive imagination. In fact, the iconic geo-legend of the geocacher who stumbles across a body in the woods inspired the plot behind First to Find.
Lynn: I understand that Morgan C. Talbot is a pen name you use to separate your mysteries from your other genres. What other genres do you write?
Morgan: I’ve dabbled with short stories in most of the genres out there, but I’ve only written full-length novels in one other genre. I write adventure fantasy novels under the pen name Jasmine Giacomo. I have one independently published series completed, a duology: The Wicked Heroine and Oathen. The first book in my new series is coming out early next year. Current title: Rebel Elements, edited by Red Adept (seriously, I’m never going anywhere else for editing, ever).
Lynn: Can you give us some hints about the plot of the next book in the series?
Morgan: Book two, currently titled Death Will Attend, harks back to the classic mystery style of Agatha Christie’s excellent novels. In it, I have a themed costume ball, too many blonde suspects, a sheriff with a secret, an impossible corpse, and a Logbook Bandit. Margarita will learn a tragic secret and reveal one of her own. Bindi will solve her share of conundrums in the book as well, so no worries.