Featuring Ann Simas author of Fossil, Colorado books
Welcome to author Ann Simas, a mountain girl at heart!
Ann Simas lives in Oregon, but she is a Colorado girl at heart, having grown up in the Rocky Mountains. She has been an avid reader since childhood and penned her first fiction “book” in high school. She particularly likes to write mystery-thriller-suspense with a love story and paranormal or supernatural elements. She currently has 34 books in print and one novella that is out of print.
An award-winning watercolorist and a budding photographer, Ann enjoys doing needlework 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 decade's old documents in Italian, she says, has been a supreme but gratifying challenge.
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Do your characters come before or after your plot?
I usually have my two main characters fixed in my head before I begin writing. I like to have their names established by then, too, although I have been known to change names mid-stream because I don’t think the name(s) I’ve chosen fits the character.
As for the other characters, some I know ahead of time, but most occur to me as I write, unless I’m working on one of series books. In those, many of the characters are the same, but the new plot introduces new characters. I keep a Word document going on every book. In that document, I list the particulars about the two protagonists, but I keep it simple for the other characters. I don’t like to go into a lot of detail about physical appearances because I like to let the reader’s imagination get a picture in their mind’s eye of what each person looks like to them. I do sometimes include some quirky or habitual traits for each character, though.
How do you choose a villain and how do you make them human?
I’m laughing, because most times, I don’t know who the villain is when I start writing. When I do, it often changes, due to circumstances changing as the plot moves along. But back to the question, I want the villain to be the last person you would’ve suspected. That means sometimes there are multiples to choose from. How do I make them human? Well, surprisingly, aside from the fact that villains are human, a lot of really bad people can’t be sorted out from the really good people. That’s because they’re good at hiding their bad attributes and behaviors.
I worked in law enforcement for a number of years, and I can tell you, not everyone who commits heinous crimes presents as a person who commits heinous crimes. Not that I knew him, but Ted Bundy is a classic example of a guy who came off as a regular Joe. Anne Rule, who wrote book about him, once told me that when she worked the hot line with him, she never would have pegged him for a man who abducted and murdered girls.
Do your reading choices reflect your writing choices?
I like to read mystery-thriller-suspense with a love interest, so, my answer is, yes. I also like some paranormal elements in what I read, as long as it’s not jammed down my throat. When I use supernatural or paranormal elements in my work, I keep that in mind.
Which type of characters are your favorite to write?
I like to write all kinds of characters. Ditzy ones, mean ones, naughty ones, happy ones. My favorites are the ones who have can engage in any kind of repartee—witty, serious, romantic, teasing. Those are usually my two protagonists. They can also have not-so-friendly repartee, because you know, they have to have some friction going on. They won’t always agree, they may not always do things the same way, or even think the same way, but they are falling in love, so they make things work. The bad guys, on the other hand, are the worst ever. I can’t even tell you what I know about how horrible people can be to each other.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m writing Framed to Die, which is book seven in my Grace Gabbiano Mysteries. The series is set in Coburg, Oregon, a small historic town about eight miles north of where I live. Grace is a sergeant with Coburg PD, and she has a large Italian family (which is something I know a lot about). After that, I’ll work on Yule Loge, a Christmas Valley Romance (#12), and another new stand-alone title, as yet undecided. Sorry to be so vague on the latter. I have four books partially underway and I don’t know yet which one I’ll tackle to finish first. By the way, the final book in the Fossil, Colorado Books series will be released in May 2022. It’s entitled, Now or Never.
What sort of research do you do for your work?
I love research and I love learning. Sometimes I have to force myself to STOP doing research and get back to writing. These days, I mostly do my research as I go. Often times, I get ideas for my story as I gather information. When I do research online, I make sure I can verify what I find with three other reliable sources, or I don’t use it. When I read books or articles, if I run across anything that makes me doubt what I’m reading, I double-check its authenticity. I also contact experts in the field, either in person or via email. My response rate is about 98%, which is pretty good, considering. I’ve also visited the morgue, done a police ride-along, contacted the FBI and DEA, and taken classes in Forensics and Criminal Investigation. Some of my research comes from personal experience. Even so, I usually confirm what I think I know to be fact to make sure it is. Of course, when I’m writing more “fantasy” elements, I can do whatever I want (like in The Wrong Wicca, Andi Comstock Supernatural Mysteries, Book 5).
For the last couple of years, I’ve read about the elk problem in Estes Park and I wanted to use those elk to my advantage. Run or Don’t starts out in Estes, which gave me an opportunity I was looking for. If you have a Facebook account, you can look at a page called Elk in Estes Park and find some wonderful photos. Elk are magnificent creatures, and I have to admit they are tasty, but they can be obnoxious and dangerous, too. You’ll also see moose and big horn sheep on the page, which is a plus.
FOSSIL, COLORADO BOOKS
HERE AND GONE (Book 1)
Hannah Clarke, a wife and mom one day, is a widow without a child the next. Two years later, living as H.L. Mason in Fossil, Colorado, her safe new world explodes with a revelation so shocking and horrifying she can hardly grasp it. By chance, she meets Sheriff Noah Ward, and though she’s leery of cops after being accused of killing her family, she needs help. Noah, a former Navy SEAL, agrees to do what he can, but they both soon discover that the case is far more insidious than parental abduction.
DISAPPEARING ACT (Book 2)
Georgina Flannery has a new name, a new occupation, and trust issues. She’s lived in six states in eight years, and she has no friends. Fossil, Colorado is her next destination, but she takes a wrong turn and ends up in a creek, only to be rescued by Brant Ward. Georgie prefers to keep men at a distance, but circumstances have taken that away from her and she’s forced to reveal her past to Brant. The more untangled her family dynamics become, the more twisted they get. When the ultimate secret is revealed, it’s incomprehensible. It also raises the question, will Georgie and Brant survive the evil pursuing them?
RUN OR DON’T (Book 3)
Juliette Ward has had a stalker for five months, but she doesn’t take him seriously until he leaves the head of a slaughtered bull elk in her driveway. Fossil, Colorado’s newest resident, security expert Beckett Ford, knows the minute he meets Jules, she’s the one. Jules hires Beck to find her stalker, but nothing prepares her for what the stalker will do next. Beck knows bad people exist, but when they’re bat-shit crazy, well, that’s not something he’s dealt with before. Together or apart, they face every obstacle the stalker puts in their path, but will they survive and have their happily-ever-after?