Marilyn enjoys writing about police officers and their families and how and what happens on the job affects the family and vice versa. Having several members of her own family involved in law enforcement, as well as many friends, she’s witnessed some of this first-hand.


The Trash Harem is number 19 in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. The official blurb is: “Deputy Tempe Crabtree had retired from her job in Bear Creek when friends, who once lived in Bear Creek and attended Pastor Hutch’s church, ask her to visit them in Temecula. The husband, Jonathan, is a suspect in what might be a murder case. The retirement community includes many interesting characters, any of whom might have had a better motive than Jonathan. There is also a connection to Earle Stanley Gardner as well as the Pechanga Old Oak. What is a trash harem? You’ll have to read the book to find out.”

Do you write in more than one genre? For many years, I’ve been writing mysteries, the Tempe series, and the Rocky Bluff P.D. series; however, I’ve written historical family sagas, horror, and even a cookbook in the past.

What brought you to writing? I’ve written my whole life in one manner or another. However, I didn’t get published until I was already a grandmother. I have kept on going and going, like the Energizer bunny.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I do the majority of my writing in my office. Fortunately, I am not bothered by distractions—and I have plenty, my retired husband, who often sits down to chat, and my three young great-granddaughters, who, with their parents, share our home. I enjoy all their visits.

Tell us about your writing process: I honestly thought I was done with this series when I wrote the one before this called End of the Trail. Deputy Tempe Crabtree decided to retire, and my idea was to retire the series too. However, I visited my daughter and her husband, who live in a gated community for folks 55 and older. While I was there, the ideas began pouring in for another book. By the time I got home, I began jotting down notes, coming up with characters, and forming the plot. As I usually do, I figured out who my victim would be, all the people who might have wanted her dead, and I began writing. I’m not a true plotter, I start writing and it all begins to reveal itself as I write.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? Once I’m done, going over the manuscript trying to get rid of typos and other mistakes. This time I had a first reader who found several things. I went over it myself many times, as did my editor, and when the first books were published, one of my readers let me know about two mistakes. They are now fixed, but it’s always so frustrating.

What are you currently working on? I’ve begun a new Rocky Bluff P.D., and I’m anxious to get on with it, but I have a long list of things that have to be done first.

Has an association membership helped you or your writing? I can’t praise belonging to the Public Safety Writers Association enough. I’ve been a member for a long time, and those with law enforcement backgrounds have been very helpful with all my questions.

Who’s your favorite author? I have lots, but one of my favorites is William Kent Krueger, who also writes a series with a Native American protagonist. Still, my favorite of his books is Ordinary Grace, a stand-alone mystery with a young boy as the hero.

How do you come up with character names? For this book, the names seemed to just pop up and fit the characters. I do keep lists of interesting names, and I’ve found some great ones in graduation programs by mixing up first and last names.

Do you ever kill a popular character? I’ve never done it and probably never will. Killed a lot of bad guys, though.

Do you base any of your characters on real people? In The Trash Harem, one of the major characters is based on my son-in-law. The central thread of the story and the title came from something he does on a regular basis. And as I was writing, I sort of described him. However, he’s the only one, though I’ve borrowed how some people I know look and some of their personalities, but not so anyone would recognize themselves.

What kind of research do you do? For this story, I had to research the author Erle Stanley Gardner and the Pechanga Indians. I already knew a lot about Gardner, but there were some details I wanted to check on. And I knew very little about the Pechanga Indians.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and your books? I’ve published over 40 books. At this point in my life, not sure how many more I have in me. I belong to two chapters of Sisters in Crime, and of course, PSWA. Over the years, I’ve appeared at many writers’ conferences and taught a lot of classes.

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