““He started to stroke her when his cell phone rang. “Boss, it’s Jones. We’ve got a situation. We got a call about a shooting up near the seniors’ club.”
“Injuries?” asked Windflower.
“A teenager,” said Jones. “I’m on my way.”
“I’ll be over in a sec,” said Windflower.
“Bad news?” asked Sheila.
“I’ll call you,” was all he said back.
Sheila didn’t ask any more questions. They liked a layer of insulation between his police work and their personal lives. He gave her a peck on the cheek and patted Lady as he left to drive to the seniors’ club, hoping for the best and fearing the worst.
The reality was somewhere in between.”

–From Darkest Before the Dawn by Mike Martin

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home, which was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web was released in 2017 and the newest book in the series is Darkest Before the Dawn.

Book Description:

Darkest Before the Dawn is the latest adventure of Sgt. Winston Windflower, a Mountie who finds himself surrounded by a new family and a new life in tiny Grand Bank, Newfoundland. There are signs of trouble that may disturb his pleasant life, including a series of unsolved break-ins and the lack of supports for young people in the most trying time of their lives. But there are always good friends, good food and the sense that if we all pull together, we can find a way to get through even the darkest days.

Ghosts, mysterious deaths, and a new character enliven the pages as Windflower and Tizzard and the other police officers awaken the secrets that have been lying dormant in this sleepy little town. The deeper they dig the more they find as the criminals they seek dive deeper behind the curtains of anonymity and technology. But more than anything, this is a story of love and loss, of growing up and learning how to grow old gracefully. It is also about family and community and looking after each other. Of not giving up hope just before the dawn.

Interview:

Welcome Mike! It’s interesting to find out how versatile a writer you are – can you tell us a little bit about your Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series and why you wrote it?

Mike: The Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series is truly a labour of love. It is set in my home province of Newfoundland, on the eastern most tip of Canada. It has allowed me to write about that part fo the world and to populate it with wonderful stories and characters from that part of the world. Sgt. Windflower came out of the fog in Grand Bank one night and started telling me his story. I was happy to write it down and share with others.

I am so excited about your latest in the series, Darkest Before the Dawn. Can you re-acquaint us with the characters for those who haven’t read your series before?

Mike: Sgt. Winston Windflower is a Mountie who is originally from northern Alberta who finds himself stationed in tiny Grand Bank. He finds the woman of his dreams, Sheila Hillier, who is the Mayor of Grand Bank, and a cadre of friends and co-workers that share his love of good food and good times. And then they have to deal with the crime and a few dead bodies along the way.

Are you a detail freak when it comes to writing your novels?

Mike: No. I am probably the exact opposite. I do some research to get the facts right and I have beta readers to guide me back to the path when I stray. But I write from the creative flow and let the words stream out. Then, of course, I have to go back and straighten out the mess.

How hard for you was it to sit down and start writing your novel? Did you have all these ideas swirling around your head or did it take some time before you were actually ready to sit down and begin?

Mike: Starting a book is easy. Finishing it takes time and determination and discipline. There are always a million ideas but getting them out of your head and onto the page is difficult. But once I have the beginning of the story, the rest seems to follow. As long as I stay with and write 1,500 to 2,000 words a day for a couple of months.

Writers are often associated with loner tendencies. Is there any truth to that? And do you need background sounds or silence when writing your books?

Mike: I need almost silence, but not a vacuum seal. I write my best first thing in the morning, before the distractions of the day take me away. I have a routine and a schedule, and I try and stick with it. If I don’t meet my word count in the morning, I have to pick it up later in the day. And I could never write at Starbucks!! That is way too much stimuli for me.

What makes writing mysteries so special to you? Is there another genre you’ve toyed around with writing?

Mike: I have written non-fiction as a freelance writer and some short personal experience stories. But I love the gentle confines of the mystery genre. There is enough room in there for just about anybody and I like the pattern and flow of identifying a problem or a crime and then proceeding to solve it over the next 300 pages.

They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point when the reader just can’t put the book down. What is one of the pivotal points in Darkest Before the Dawn?

Mike: There are a couple. But I would say that the Jerimiah Parsons accident is one place where the story starts to grab hold and you have to keep reading until you know what will happen. What does happen is a little mystical and certainly mysterious.

What’s next for you?

Mike: Enjoy the book launch of Darkest Before the Dawn. Every book is like a child to an author. We send it out into the world with good intentions and then we watch its progress. Once this book is safely on its journey, it will be time to start thinking about the next Sgt. Windflower Mystery.

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