Join me, won’t you? Today, I have an excerpt from the novel, Assumed, by MHR Greer, followed by an interview! If you are a fan of Colleen Hoover, Paula Hawkins, or Greer Hendricks, this novel might be just what you’re looking for.
When her friend Sandy asks for help, Anne Wilson leaves her small, lonely life in Miami for the picturesque island of Saint Martin. But as soon as she arrives, Sandy is murdered, and her death exposes lies: an alias, a secret past, stolen money. Suspected of murder and trapped on the island, Anne is shocked when a cryptic message arrives:
Find the money. Take it and run.
She follows Sandy’s trail of obscure clues, desperate for proof of her innocence and must decide if she can trust the two men who offer help-the dark, mysterious Brit or the American with a wide grin and a pickup truck. When memories resurface-dark truths she’d rather leave buried and forgotten, her past becomes intertwined with her present.
Her only way forward is to face her own secrets.
Intrigued? Yea, me too. Read on for the excerpt…
A constant stream of jubilant holiday-goers jostled my suitcase as I paced the arrivals gate, but Sandy’s mobile went to voicemail a fourth time. I hung up without leaving another message and strolled past the baggage carousel. Again.
“Where are you, Sandy?” I muttered under my breath.
A man in a white Panama hat vacated a bench, and I collapsed onto the cold metal and hugged the handle of my suitcase. The other passengers exchanged greetings and gathered their baggage, and the automatic door slid open with a swoosh to receive them. Every time the door opened, humid air blasted my face.
The man in the white hat reappeared but saw me and turned away, presumably to find a bench without a slouching, scowling American. I raised my shoulders from a slump and crossed my legs.
“What now, Anne?” I asked myself, tapping the screen of my phone and resisting the urge to check the time.
A young boy, about five years old, wandered over and climbed onto the bench next to me. We exchanged nervous smiles. Couples and families regrouped near the door, and I watched their faces, expecting someone to claim the boy, but the door opened and closed, over and over, and he remained.
I was just about to ask where the boy’s parents were when a tall woman entered and rushed toward us, shouting in French. Her profile was dark against the bright sunlight outside, and her long hair swirled in the vortex of the doorway. The boy pressed against me, and I almost wrapped my arm around him, but the door closed, and she smoothed her hair back into place.
She pulled the boy from the bench, gripping his arms with long, slender fingers. I couldn’t understand her words, but her reprimand was clear. Her green eyes flashed with fear and anger. She blamed me for his disappearance. I shrugged, trying to remember how to apologize in French. Je suis desole? But I was unsure of the words, so I didn’t say anything, and she didn’t wait for my explanation.
He left with her, his little hand firmly inside hers, and when the door opened and whipped her hair back into the air, the boy turned back to me with a smile. I waved.
And then I was alone again.
I jumped when my phone buzzed.
Sorry, Sandy texted. Can’t make it. Take a taxi to 16 Rue de l’Aile Perdue.
I stared at the text and considered purchasing a ticket for a return flight, but my phone buzzed again with a second text.
I squared my shoulders and pulled on my sunglasses. Then I walked through the whoosh of the doorway and into the sunlight.
The taxi line had already thinned; it took only a few minutes before a lively man ushered me into the back of a bright green sedan. The driver offered a brusque “Welcome to Saint Martin,” and turned up her radio. Taxi code for no talking. Fine with me.
We sped through narrow streets, dangerously close to sunburned tourists wandering street markets. Stalls spilled out from under a rainbow of awnings, hawking loud shirts and oversized beach towels. The air was thick with cardamom and curry, mixed with the yeasty smell of a patisserie. My stomach rumbled. In my rush to make the early morning flight, I’d skipped breakfast.
We left town and traveled up and down winding roads that cut into the hillsides. The villas grew larger and farther apart and then disappeared into thick foliage behind security gates. I caught occasional glimpses of dirt lanes and even fewer paved driveways. When the driver pulled off the road, I leaned out the window to watch the tops of towering palm trees lining a long gravel driveway. We stopped on a cobbled motor court in front of a massive house.
I stared up at the imposing facade from within the safety of the taxi before I bravely stepped into the blazing sun. I thought there must be some mistake, but before I could say anything, the taxi drove away. Why had Sandy sent me to a dismal mansion and not to one of the dazzling resorts I’d passed?
Beyond the house, the sea stretched to the horizon. Sunlight reflected off the water, awakening childhood fantasies of pirate ships and mermaid tails. But the hot sun quickly melted the daydream, and I retreated into the shadow of the mansion.
Up close, the house was shabby and weather-beaten. Peeling gray paint revealed a history of more colorful choices. The porch railing leaned at a precarious angle, and as I cautiously climbed the rotting steps, the wood complained but held, and I reached the front door and knocked. The sound echoed within the house, but only silence followed. I knocked again, louder, and waited. Nothing.
“Now what?” I asked the house.
The house ignored me, but a piece of paper stuck between two floorboards fluttered in the ocean breeze. I stepped over and picked it up. She’d left a note—an inconsiderate welcome, even for Sandy. I exhaled loudly and unfolded the scrap of paper.
What does the note say?? Was the boy some sort foreshadowing or nothing more? I need answers and I need them now. If you feel like I did, get yourself a copy of Assumed, stat.
Next, check out our interview with the author, MHR Greer:
Which was the hardest character to write?
Anne. Have you ever disliked someone the first time you met them, but then as you got to know them you realized they were just shy and perhaps quite sad? That’s how it felt to write Anne. I didn’t approve of her choices, but chapter after chapter she showed such strength, and I warmed to her.
What is your writing process like?
Like hiking through progressively larger hills. I can’t see very far ahead, and everytime I climb a hill, I’m surprised by what I find.
What advice would you give budding writers?
Three things: write, read, share. You hear the advice “write every day” because it’s so essential to success. Reading inspires your creativity. And finally, let other people read what you write. Join critique groups, ask friends and family to give you feedback. Constructive criticism will make you a better writer.
Your book is set in Saint Martin, an island in the Caribbean. Have you ever been there?
Yes. (sigh) Such a beautiful place. I want to go back.
Do you have another profession besides writing?
I’m a bookkeeper by day. It’s the opposite of creative writing.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve always journaled, but I began writing novels about nine years ago – which is about the time my first marriage fell apart. Huh, I never made that connection before. Whew. That’s a breakthrough of sorts, isn’t it?
What helps you overcome writer’s block?
There isn’t one remedy. I do laundry or go for walks and listen to loud, angry chick-rock. Sometimes I pull out bins of yarn to design a new knitting project, but then I usually just end up fondling my yarn until I solve the block and return to the computer screen. Yarn is my muse.
What is your next project?
Book 2: Accused. Anne’s story continues! It will be released in 2023.
What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. But the one comment that stands out is when an Amazon reviewer said that Anne (my main character) was so REAL. That was amazing to hear.
How are you similar to or different from your lead character?
We are very different, but we do have a couple things in common. She works in accounting like I do, and we’ve both suffered significant loss – the kind of loss that you never really recover from. Writing her character was so interesting because she dealt with her loss so differently than I did.
What is something you had to cut from your book that you wish you could have kept?
A scene between Anne and Luke. It was such a sweet moment between them, but nothing really happened, and I had to cut it. But the banter between them was so much fun. And, of course, we all want more time with Luke…
Do you snack while writing? Favorite snack?
Tortilla chips. But never from the bag or I won’t stop. The crunching helps me stay calm during suspenseful scenes – like eating popcorn while you’re at the movies.
Where do you write?
Everywhere. At my desk, in my favorite armchair, in the car (when I’m not driving,) on a plane. I’ve written during warmups at my son’s soccer games, sitting in the parking lot waiting for jiu jitsu to finish, and on a sailboat. That wasn’t a good idea though. I’m not sure how my laptop didn’t fall into the Pacific ocean.
Do you write every day?
No. (slight chuckle.) Some days it just isn’t possible. But I try to write even if I know I’m going to delete all of it the next day.
Is there a specific ritualistic thing you do during your writing time?
I listen to music. Really loud music. It blocks out everything else so I can focus on the story. A few indie bands like Metric, but sometimes I plug in my earphones and play catchy mainstream pop. And I like it.
In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?
In the first part of a flight, I scribble furiously in a notebook until that glorious “ding” sounds, and I can start typing.
If you’re a mom writer, how do you balance your time?
Define balance…The truth is I don’t have balance. I work too much. But I think “balance” is overrated. We threw out the idea of traditional gender roles in my house. My husband and I are a team. I work, and he does almost everything else. (Except matching socks. He cannot figure that out.)
Favorite travel spot?
Kansas City. Such a friendly place. It always inspires creativity. I love the Nelson-Atkins museum and City Market on the weekends. Also, there’s a place in Westport Plaza that makes the best Matcha ever. Don’t get me started on the barbeque…yum.
If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you?
Ulysses. I might be able to read it cover to cover once I’m stuck on a deserted island. One of the Harry Potters because I’d want a little magic. And I’d bring one of my husband’s books on boat building because then I could escape to get back to all the other books!
So many hobbies. Knitting mostly, but I enjoy loads of crafts, jewelry and macrame. I want to try pottery, but my yarn takes up too much space. I simply don’t have room in my life for clay. Yet.
What TV series are you currently binge watching?
A while ago, season 1 of Silent Witness popped up as a recommendation on my BritBox. It should have come with a disclaimer like “Don’t watch this unless you’re prepared to commit several months to it.” Sheeshers. I just finished Season 25. I don’t regret a thing. Well. Maybe I regret some of the popcorn.
What song is currently playing on a loop in your head?
I just watched Free Guy with my son, so that Mariah song. So. Freaking. Catchy. It’s in your head now too, isn’t it?
What is something that made you laugh recently?
I live in SoCal, so we don’t get a lot of weather. My son went out for a bike ride and came back after only three minutes and put on a second sweatshirt, a beanie, and gloves. Five minutes later he returned for knee pads and a chest plate because the “wind was bitter cold.” It was 56 degrees.
What is your go-to breakfast item?
A beet smoothie. I know. Gross, right? I hate beets, but they resolve my gallbladder issues. I roast golden beets and blend them with spinach and frozen berries to hide the taste.
What is the oldest item of clothing you own?
Such an embarrassing question! I have a favorite T-shirt that I keep because maybe someday I’ll be the same weight I was in college. The shirt is not even that cool. It’s faded green with a well worn cartoon frog. But it’s so soft and comfy.
Tell us about your longest friendship.
Marie. We met in college because our boyfriends were roommates, and we both instantly had a “you’re my person” moment. I live in California, and she lives on the East Coast, so we meet annually in random cities in the middle of the country to hang out. She’s still my person after all this time.
What is the strangest way you’ve become friends with someone?
One of my friendships started during the darkest period in my life. We were at a youth football practice that my ex-husband was coaching. I can’t even remember why, but I had to move my chair, and someone I barely knew carried it for me. That’s it. She carried my chair. It was a tiny thing, but the gesture meant the world to me. And we’ve been close friends ever since.
I hope you enjoyed this little taste of Assumed and our interview with the author! Make sure you pick yourself up a kindle copy today, and give her a like on the socials!
Until next time, nerds…
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