I never planned to write a novel, but something kept niggling at me. It was an event that would change my life. It was the story of my mother’s cousin, Kenneth, who had disappeared in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1963, and whose body was discovered in a sheriff’s department evidence closet where it had been laying forgotten and unidentified for forty years. He had been murdered.
Sharpe Shooter is based on that true story.
The main reason the body was never identified by his parents was that the original coroner misidentified the body as being that of a woman. No one was looking for this “Jane Doe.” So the remains were labeled and stored, gathering dust and leaving a family devastated by unanswered questions.
After the re-discovery of the body, the sheriff’s department sent the skeletal remains to a forensic anthropologist to recreate a model of the victim’s face. One of my aunt’s friends saw the picture in the newspaper, which led to Kenneth’s identification. We then buried him next to his parents forty years after his death.
I had been obsessed with the case since childhood. Many nights I would lay in bed wondering what on earth had led to his disappearance. I also became obsessed with dead people. When riding in a car down the highway, I would stare out the window looking for bodies on the side of the road. Weird, I know.
After Kenneth’s body was found, my curiosity grew stronger. One day when I was searching online for information for my family tree, I found an article written by a conspiracy theorist linking Kenneth’s 1963 death to Lee Harvey Oswald. Rubbish, of course. I was angry but relieved that my aunt and uncle weren’t around to read it.
About ten years later, when I retired from teaching, I decided to write a collection of essays called My Dead Relatives. I included Kenneth’s story as part of it.
After putting his story down on record, I was ready to close the chapter on Kenneth’s life. But to do so, I wanted to come up with a plausible explanation for his death—one that I could live with. That is when I came up with the story that is now the novel. I wanted the story to honor the person he was but bring resolution to the mystery.
I’m a big fan of non-fiction, mostly biography. But I’ve always loved a good mystery. I grew up reading my mother’s Agatha Christie books along with Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew. One of the biggest challenges was making the story contemporary, but having the timeframe fit the events of 1963 and the Kennedy assassination. It meant that Cora, the main character’s mother, would be in her late nineties. Kenneth, who is named Matthew in the story, would have been almost eighty. So, too, would be all the people who would have known him when he was alive.
If I had written the story ten years earlier when his body was actually found, it would have been much easier. Instead, I set the story fifty years after his disappearance rather than forty and did the best I could.
In the process, I fell in love with fiction writing. I turned the book into a series and am working on the fourth installment now. You can find Sharpe Shooter and the Cozy Suburbs Mystery Series on Amazon in paperback and ebook.
Buy Sharpe Shooter and Lisa’s other books:
Spirit Moves Box Set
Born and raised in Texas, Lisa Thomas always knew she wanted to be a writer. Finally, after thirty-three years as a high school Journalism and English teacher, she released her first novel. Having grown up reading Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, and Agatha Christie, she was drawn to the mystery genre.
With two grown children out of the nest, she lives a quiet life with her husband and Peekapoo puppy. Besides writing, she enjoys her grandchildren, photography, traveling, and antiquing (aka. buying and selling used junk).
If you like classic-style cozy mysteries, be sure to download her Cozy Suburbs Mystery Series books. In Sharpe Shooter, follow Deena Sharpe, a burned-out high school teacher in Texas, as she tries to solve the fifty-year-old murder of her uncle before a mysterious author implicates him in his latest conspiracy theory.
In Sharpe Edge, a Christmas party turns tragic when the hostess ends up dead. Deena needs to help find the killer before he—or she—strikes again.
The third book in the series, Sharpe Mind, takes on a paranormal twist. Along with a new psychic in town, Maycroft has another murder to solve. Ghosts, bats, and mysterious happenings challenge Deena to unwind this twisted tale.
I’d like to thank Lisa for stopping by to share her very fascinating story with us! Wow, that is just amazing! So dear readers, have you ever become fascinating with something in your family’s history? Been haunted by old and far off things?
I love comments so much that I pick a favorite to receive my monthly AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value). (And don’t forget that once a quarter I’ll be tossing in something fun from the Perilously Fun Shop!) Recipient is announced the first blog post of the new month.