Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Marilyn (F.M.) Meredith Has an Axe to Grind - She'll tell you about it

I couldn't help using that line in the title. It was way to tempting. (G) Seriously, I'm happy to be hosting Marilyn a/k/a F.M. Meredith on our blog today. She's a vibrant member of the mystery community, with lots of energy and talent. I'm particularly happy that Marilyn is one of the members of the mystery blog, Make Mine Mystery, but that's not all she does.  - Morgan Mandel

F. M. Meredith who also writes under the name Marilyn Meredith is the author of nearly thirty published novels including the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, An Axe to Grind is the newest from Oak Tree Press. No Sanctuary was a finalist the mystery/suspense category of the Epic best in e-books contest .

She is a member of EPIC, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She was an instructor for Writer’s Digest School for ten years, served as an instructor at the Maui Writer’s Retreat and many other writer’s conferences. For over twenty years she lived in a beach community similar to Rocky Bluff.

You can visit the author online at and her blog at

Here's what Marilyn's Axe to Grind is about:

Detective Doug Milligan and his partner question suspects in the murder of a stalker including the stalker's target, her boyfriend, father and brother, as well as the stalker’s step-father. The investigation leaves little time for Doug to see his fianc√©e and fellow officer, Stacey Wilbur.

Stacey handles a molestation case which involves the son of a friend. She and her mother talk wedding plans, though all must wait until Doug's renter, Officer Gordon Butler finds another place to live.

When Doug disappears while tailing a suspect, Stacey sets out to find him, hoping she can reach him time.

Here's what our Axe Grinder has to say:
Why I’m Writing About a Fictional Place by F.M. Meredith

My Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series is about a police department located in a small Southern California beach community in Ventura County between Santa Barbara and Ventura. I didn’t want to write about a real place. I’ve found it easier to make up the setting because the restaurants and stores I mention won’t go out of business before the book is published.

When I wrote the first book in the series my goal was to show how the family affects the policeman on the job and the job affects the police officer’s family. When we lived in a similar beach community, our first home was in a neighborhood full of cops. We partied with them, our kids played together, and the wives and I had coffee. A few years later, my daughter married a police officer and I had an even more intimate view of the relationship of the job and the family.

Though there are on-going characters, each book features different officers and the crimes they are working on, as well as what is going on in their private lives.

Though I do try to use solid police procedure, because the town of Rocky Bluff is small, as is their police department, they don’t have all the up-to-date equipment of a larger department. Crimes are solved more by old-fashioned detecting rather than by using all the forensics as seen on most of the popular TV shows.

I belong to the Public Safety Writers Association where most of the members are linked to law enforcement in some way, so I do have experts to ask when need be. However, when I’m talking to them about my books, I always say, “Remember this is my police department and I can do it anyway I want.” The statement always gets a laugh and they are forgiving when they read my books.

One thing about writing about a fictional place, I must keep track of all the businesses I’ve made up, where landmarks are located, which way the streets go, and anything else that I might have mentioned in another book. This is as important as keeping track of all the attributes of the characters.

Sometimes my protagonists go to a real city. In An Axe to Grind, Detective Doug Milligan goes to the Santa Barbara University campus to locate a suspect. I had to do some research to find out what the part I was writing about looked like and how the campus police operated. In the same book, Detective Milligan and his partner go to Ventura. I’m familiar with the part of Ventura I wrote about.

Though Rocky Bluff is a fictional place, it seems very real to me. I can see it in my mind just as well as I can see all the real spots that I’ve visited over the years. The town is located right on the coast, though on the north side there is a bluff where the wealthier people live. Along the beach are older, small homes, once vacation spots for people from out of town, but now mostly rentals. I could go on, but you get the idea. I know Rocky Bluff as well as I know the people who live there and inhabit my books.

F.M. Meredith a.k.a. Marilyn Meredith

Please welcome Marilyn by leaving a comment below.


Morgan Mandel said...

Welcome to Acme Authors Link, Marilyn. Have a good time today.

Morgan Mandel

Dorothy said...

Being a travel buff, I love hearing about settings even if they are fictional! Marilyn, great post!

Cheryl said...

Thanks for hosting Marilyn today. I'm using a fictional setting for my WIP. It just makes life easier. Though my protagonist is being sent away to school at Wheaton Female Seminary in Norton, MA, which will require research.

I've read the last three Rocky Bluff P.D. books, and I have to say that seeing how the job affects the lives of its members and their families is my favorite aspect of these books.

I used to work at a credit union for city employees. We got to know a lot of the cops and firemen from the city and it gave you a different perspective on these men and women, one that made you honor and respect them for what they do while balancing that with family life.

Thanks again. Wishing you all the best with this book, Marilyn.


Pump Up Your Book

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thanks for having me here today. I'm really enjoying my blog tour and it's nice to visit with friends.


Jean Henry Mead said...

I know the area well that you write about, Marilyn, which makes it even more interesting to read about. I look forward to reading An Axe to Grind.


Patricia Harrington said...


Love your writing style and the places you pick for your main characters. I'm a big believer in the old adage that mysteries are set on a three-legged stool: Character, Setting, Plot.

And I think the setting often shapes character and conflict people and places give rise to plot.

Nice seeing/reading your blog.

All the best,

Pat Harrington
Author, Bridget O'Hern Series
"What Price Retribution?"
Seattle Noir Anthology, Akashic Books

Deb Larson said...

I prefer fictional towns as well - much easier to keep track of things. Thanks for sharing your insight with us today.
DL Larson

Anonymous said...

Overall I prefer real locations. I use real cities, restaurants, establishments, etc. in my books. But fictional locations are fine too. Writers can demonstrate their creativity in a way I would struggle with.

Stephen Tremp

Dana Fredsti said...

Marilyn, you gave the exact reasons why I changed La Jolla to Emerald Cove in Murder for Hire.

Libby McKinmer said...

Love your books, Marilyn! Glad to see you on Morgan's blog today. Enjoy!

Libby McKinmer

Lillie Ammann said...

You make Rocky Bluff seem real.

I look forward to hosting a tour stop for you next week.

Lillie Ammann
A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye

Debra St. John said...

Love the cover!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thank you, Libby and Pat.

Lillie, Rocky Bluff seems very real to me, I can see it in my memories just like real places I've been.

See you next week.


Anonymous said...

Always great to see you Marilyn; love stopping in on your Blog tours, this looks like a very interesting spot. Jude

Helen Ginger said...

I like both real and made-up settings, but you're right, when you use a real setting and someone reads it and knows that a place you mention is no longer in business, it throws them out of the story a bit.

Straight From Hel

Margot Justes said...

I prefer real location, this way I get to travel to do research-but fictional sets, if well done become cozy, delighful and offer a sense of escape.
Margot Justes
A Hotel in paris