Friday, January 10, 2014

Interview, Review and Giveaway: M.L. Rowland

Please join me in welcoming M.L. Rowland to Debbie's Book Bag today. M.L. is here promoting her first book in the Search and Rescue Mystery series, Zero-Degree Murder. I got the opportunity to ask a few questions you may be interested in. The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Zero-Degree Murder, see giveaway details at the end of the post.

DEB: What was your inspiration or the idea that got you started on this book? 
M.L.: It’s a classic case of writing what I know. I served for almost a dozen years as a volunteer on a search and rescue team in the mountains of southern California and was able to draw from my own knowledge, observations and personal experiences for the setting and many of the events in “Zero-Degree Murder” and subsequent Gracie Kinkaid books. A friend who read “Zero-Degree Murder” said to me, “So that’s what happens when you get called out on a search. I always wondered.”

DEB: Is it a single title or part of a series? 
M.L.: “Zero-Degree Murder” is the first in a series featuring Gracie Kinkaid.

DEB: Do you have a favorite author or genre you like to read for pleasure? 
M.L.: I read whatever strikes my fancy. I love mysteries. I’ve read every Dick Francis, some multiple times, and read every new Nevada Barr that comes out. I go through long stretches of reading only the classics or books by a certain author, regardless of genre. I first read “The Lord of the Rings” when I was around 12 or 13--I loved it then and still do. I love American history, particularly the old west. I’ve read every Louis L’Amour at least once, and just finished reading Zane Grey’s “Riders of the Purple Sage” for the first time. 

DEB: What has been your experience with the publishing industry? Pro's and Con's. 
M.L.: One of the biggest surprises is how long everything in the publication process takes. From the time I was offered a publishing contract from Penguin to the actual release of the first book took almost two years. I’m constantly amazed at how genuinely nice and supportive everyone I’ve dealt with at Penguin is. 

DEB: Do you have advice for new writers? 
M.L.: Live your life! It provides perspective, not to mention great character and plot ideas. Don’t listen to those who aren’t encouraging you to succeed. Stay open to others’ suggestions and critiques, but try not to take them too personally. Never stop learning and never give up! 

DEB: Tell us something about you that readers may not know. 
M.L.: Like my main character, Gracie Kinkaid, socially I sometimes can be the biggest chicken. 

DEB: What are you working on right now?

M.L.: I’m multi-tasking—working on publicity for “Zero-Degree Murder,” edits for Gracie Kinkaid’s Book 2, “Murder Off the Beaten Path,” and the plotting of Gracie Kinkaid’s Book 3, as yet untitled. 

Publication Information

Publication Date: 01/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425263665
ISBN-13: 978-0425263662

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

M.L. Rowland on the WEB: Website, goodreads


Search and rescue expert Gracie Kinkaid risks her life on a daily basis to save strangers. But going up against a coldhearted murderer is one kind of danger she’s not prepared for…

As a volunteer for Timber Creek Search and Rescue, missing out on holiday festivities is nothing new to Gracie. After all, disasters don’t stop happening because of a cooked turkey. So when Gracie is called out on Thanksgiving for four hikers missing in the wilderness of Southern California, she packs up her gear and heads out to find them.

The mission quickly goes from routine to deadly. An early season blizzard sets in. The one missing person the team does find, famous actor Rob Christian, remembers being attacked by someone else on the trail, someone trying to kill him. And Gracie’s partner leaves to get backup, taking the radio—their only link to the outside world—with him.

Alone in the mountains, Gracie will have to use all her expertise to keep Rob alive. But with an unknown killer lurking somewhere in the dark, even that might not be enough to save them…


M.L. Rowland brings readers the first book in her new Search and Rescue Mystery series, Zero-Degree Murder. Readers may learn a little bit more than whodunit with this book. The survival and rescue techniques set this book apart. As a former search and rescue provider Rowland knows what she's talking about and it's apparent on every page. With a killer on the loose, a blizzard coming in and wayward rock star to protect, Gracie Kinkaid isn't having the perfect Thanksgiving. Readers will love the urgency of the plot and the genuine spirit of the heroine. A great first in a series book!

What I liked:

The search and rescue theme may not be completely new ground for the cozy sub-genre but it isn't a common one. I liked the theme a lot being a hiker myself. I love the outdoors in any weather and I thought this theme created all kinds of new avenues to explore for a cozy. It may have straddled the line between mystery and suspense a bit closer than I thought it would, but that didn't take a way from the originality of the plot and the way that Rowland was able to draw the reader in. 

Extreme circumstances always have a way of getting under the readers skin quickly. In Zero-Degree Murder you not only have a possible murder with a killer still on the loose, but you also the extreme weather and safety issues to add to the urgency of the story. It really ramped up the action of plot. Rowland most certainly knows what she's talking about when she describes search and rescue techniques and survival tactics. I was really engrossed by the details and felt like I had been educated as well as entertained in this novel.

Gracie Kinkaid is a great heroine. I liked her from the very start. She had moxie to be sure. She wasn't afraid to go out there and try to find the missing party. And she knew when they found Rob that she had to protect him and get him back safely even if she was out there with a murderer. I liked the way Rowland allowed Gracie to mull over the suspects and the clues and find new ways to think about the possible crime. If every amateur sleuth always got it right the first time that would be boring. But I thought Gracie's thought processes were very enjoyable as she puzzled it all out for herself and the reader.

Rowland shows a lot of potential with this book and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with Gracie next. There are so many ways the author could take this series. That's one of the things that I find enjoyable about reading a new author. Though I may have read books about the subject or theme before, each author has a different take or perception that is unique to them and I liked how Rowland thought. 

What I didn't like:

When the book first started out I wasn't sure Gracie was going to be able to pull this off. I thought maybe she wasn't a strong enough heroine. But as I continued to read Zero-Degree Murder I got better acquainted with her and thought her character growth allowed her to show her strengths. In the end I liked her a lot. I was also not sure this was a cozy in the true sense of the word because there was a lot more suspense than usual.

Bottom Line:

I liked this one a lot after I got started. I feel in love with the theme and with Gracie. Zero-Degree Murder may be that book that crosses the barriers between cozy mystery and suspense, but that's a good thing. It opens it up to a whole other audience that most cozies don't reach. It's a really good first in a series book and I'm looking forward to more from M.L. Rowland.

Zero-Degree Murder is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out or 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author:

A former search and rescue worker for over a decade, M. L. Rowland lives with her family on the Arkansas River in Colorado.

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Zero-Degree Murder by M.L. Rowland.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ U.S. Addresses only.
~ the deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight, EST January 24th.

1. Please leave a comment describing what you know about search and rescue in remote areas.
2. Please fill out the FORM.


traveler said...

Just what I read online or in the papers. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Nancy said...

What little I know is if you are lucky, get someone who knows that area well is a good start. Maybe having a person or dog who has a gift for tracking helps too. I think that is all scarry tho because you never know what is going to happen and what you are going to find.

Carol M said...

I really don't know much about search and rescue. I do know that we are lucky to have people who do it even when they are risking their own lives.

Charlotte said...

I know not one thing about rescue.

Karen B said...

I only know what I read in the paper or see on TV or internet news and that they are highly trained and have saved many lives.

Linda said...

My boss was one of the rescued sailors from the Cynthia Woods sinking in 2008 so more knowledge than I'd thought likely. Sea search & rescue isn't quite the same as the Zero-degree Murder concept. But I would think that being lost at sea would feel very remote!

Sue Farrell said...

I know very little about search and rescue at all.

skkorman said...

I know nothing about search and rescue in remote areas other than the fact that those who participate in these endeavors are very brave, compassionate, and selfless!

skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

Barbara T. said...

I have heard of using a helicopter for some remote areas. Dogs also being used in a variety of situations,

Anonymous said...

Not much. Just what I hear and read about. Thanks for the awesome giveaway.

cyn209 said...

what little I know about search & rescue, I learned from movies/tv shows.....I know that everything have been thought of & the training is intensive.....

thank you for the giveaway!!

lag123 said...

I'm afraid that I don't know anything about search and rescue in a remote area.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

bn100 said...

not much

Anita Yancey said...

I don't really know anything about search and rescue in remote areas, only what I've seen in movies. Thanks for having the giveaway.


Texas Book Lover said...

About all I know is that it is very dangerous.