Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A SPECIAL special guest blogger: Deborah Atkinson returns!

I am thrilled to tell you that one of our former bloggers is returning today for a special appearance. If yours truly weren’t such a dunce, you would have been reading this on the first weekend of this month — but I got my dates wrong. So I am happily giving up my regular Tuesday spot to my good friend to bring you what I promise is something out of the ordinary for Type M. So take it away, Deborah!

Deborah Atkinson weaves the legends and folklore of Hawaii into suspense-filled contemporary crime fiction. Atkinson lives in Honolulu, Hawaii and is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, University of Iowa Writers’ Summer Workshop, and a recipient of the University of Hawaii’s Meryl Clark Award for Fiction. Her books include Primitive Secrets, which is the introduction to the Storm Kayama series, The Green Room, which was a Book Sense Notable pick, Fire Prayer, and Pleasing the Dead. Visit www.deborahatkinson.com for more information about her work.


Thanks, Rick, for asking me to be your guest blogger today. It’s great to be back among my mystery/suspense colleagues. I have missed you all!

Some of you know that the reason I have been missing from the mystery scene is because our family struggled with our younger son’s opiate addiction. It’s true that addiction is a family disease; the fear that he would overdose and die before he could overcome the incomprehensible pull of the drug ran our lives. Andrew has just passed his fourth birthday of sobriety and is doing well, and he has worked hard at it. You may already know that an opiate addict relapses an average of eleven times, and each relapse is life-threatening.

Though my mystery writing stalled, I wrote about our family’s struggle with Substance Use Disorder, hoping that what we learned along this long path (and it is long—much longer than the average 28-day treatment program) might help other families shorten their own roads to recovery. As I learned more about the problem, I realized how little most people know about it—including doctors and some “specialists.”

Recognizing a substance use disorder in a family member is difficult, and that is only the first step of a long journey. Even after you recognize the problem, where do you go next? And how to get your loved one to go along with the idea? He or she is in the deepest denial of all. There’s even a term for denial of a mental illness, anosognosia.
I collaborated with several addiction specialists on this book, which I’m calling Feathers in the Soul: A Guide for Families Struggling with a Child’s Addiction. It is complete and I’m looking for a publisher. I hope other people can learn from our experience and avoid some of our mistakes. Knowledge is how we as a culture and society will conquer this rampant scourge.

My favorite genre, though, remains mystery/suspense, and I am looking forward to returning to this group of down-to-earth, enthusiastic and erudite storytellers. Just so I didn’t get swallowed in the often-heartbreaking reality of addiction, I also wrote a thriller titled Impact Zone. It, too, is complete and looking for a good home.

Here’s a short synopsis. The protagonist, Hawaii native Rod Tautala, is in recovery. (Surprise!) But Rod’s real problem begins when an army buddy calls and announces that he’s mailed photographs from their time in Afghanistan. The package includes pictures of Rod’s older brother Cliff, who died there. Rod is leaving for Honolulu to visit his sick father and he asks his best friend, Sam, to pick up the package. The next day, Rod learns that Sam has been stabbed to death in front of Rod’s apartment. Stunned, Rod also finds himself guardian to Sam’s precocious and grieving sixteen-year-old daughter, Bahati, who pressures him to find her father’s murderer.

Rod and Bahati must return to Hawaii to uncover a scheme involving hundreds of millions in cash skimmed from the U.S. government during Rod’s tour in Afghanistan. (This part is based in reality.) Not only is Rod’s army buddy implicated, but Rod’s brother may also have been involved—and it looks like the helicopter crash that killed Cliff wasn’t an accident after all. Of course, a cadre of nasty killers within the U.S. government are hunting Rod and Bahati, who must overcome internal and external demons to survive.

Thanks again Rick, for asking me to guest blog. I hope to see you all in libraries, bookstores, online, and at mystery conferences. Read on!


Vicki Delany said...

How nice to hear from you, Debby. The new books sounds just great! Keep me up to date on the progress of your non-fiction book. One of my daughters is a youth addictions Councillor with a Masters degree in counselling, so I'm sure she'd be able to make use of the book.

Rick Blechta said...

I'm so sorry that your son, you and the rest of your family have had to go through this, but I'm also very glad to know that things are going well. Thanks for sharing your very personal story. Looking forward to reading the new thriller. Hope it finds a home soon!

Charlotte Hinger said...

Debby, It's wonderful to hear from you. You were one of the first PPP writers that I met. So sorry about your son's struggles. Chin up. I know this can be a very long road.

Donis Casey said...

So good to hear from you, Debby, though I'm sorry that you've had to go through such a struggle. I hope you're book does wonderfully. I know several people who will be glad to know of it.