Dr. Randy Overbeck is a writer, educator, researcher and speaker in much demand. During his three plus decades of educational experience, he has performed many of the roles depicted in his writing with responsibilities ranging from coach and yearbook advisor to principal and superintendent. His new ghost story/mystery, Blood on the Chesapeake, will be released on April 10, 2019 by The Wild Rose Press. As the title suggests, the novel is set on the famous Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, home to endless shorelines, incredible sunsets and some of the best sailing in the world. Blood is first in a new series of paranormal mysteries, The Haunted Shores Mysteries. Dr. Overbeck’s first novel, Leave No Child Behind, a thriller about the terrorist takeover of a Midwest high school and one teacher’s stand against the intruders, won the 2011 Silver Award for Thrillers from ReadersFavorite.com. Dr. Overbeck is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and an active member of the literary community. You can follow him on Twitter @OverbeckRandy, friend him on Facebook at Author Randy Overbeck or check out his webpage, www.authorrandyoverbeck.com
Find out more about Blood on the Chesapeake: https://www.authorrandyoverbeck.com/books
Tell us about your book! What is it about and what inspired you to write it?
After being dumped by his fiancé, Darrell Henshaw, a young teacher and coach, strikes out for new pastures and lands a job on the Chesapeake Bay. He cannot believe his good fortune as Wilshire, a quiet, scenic and charming resort town on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay offers him his dream job—teaching high school history and coaching football and basketball—and, as it turns out, a second chance at love. Except no one told him that a student was murdered at the school and that the kid’s ghost haunts the hallways.
You see, Darrell sees ghosts, though he’s not happy about it. His first encounter with the spirit world did not go well and he has the OCD scars to prove it. But, after he’s hounded by the terrifying ghost, he decides to look into the murder, aided by his new love, Erin Caveny. Together, they follow a trail that leads back to the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even the Klu Klux Klan. Then, after two locals who try to help are murdered and Erin’s life is threatened, Darrell is forced to decide if he’s willing to risk his life—and the life of the woman he loves—to expose the killers of a young man he never knew.
Most of my stories have been inspired by the towns I’ve travelled to and the people and places I’ve encountered on my way. When visiting an area, I’ve always been intrigued by the possibilities of unfamiliar places, the “I wonder if” notion. The initial idea for Blood on the Chesapeake actually sprang from a visit to a coastal New England town. The town boasted an old high school with an unusual architectural feature, a faux widow’s walk atop the second floor of the school building—which readers will discover is a critical part of the setting and narrative of Blood on the Chesapeake. Then, when I later journeyed to the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, I was overwhelmed by the quiet, scenic beauty of the region, but also intrigued by the duality of the cultures there. Here was a region bearing the hallmarks of a proud New England tradition such a rich history of shipping and fishing, but also with roots still very much in the South. The area was home to famous slave plantations and was split in loyalties during the Civil War. I thought it’d be interesting to explore that contrast in fiction. In this most peaceful and beautiful of settings on the Chesapeake Bay, what if something horrific happened in this small town and they tried to cover it up?
Tell us about your publishing process. What was it like? Did you go indie or the traditional way?
With my first novel, Leave No Child Behind, and with Blood on the Chesapeake, I worked with publishers, a small press with the first and a much larger house with Blood. I know other authors who have had good experience self-publishing, but I’ve chosen not to go that route, at least for these works. Originally, I was hoping to interest a strong agent and through him/her secure a book contract. Although I attracted the attention of a few agents, I was never able to close the deal. Dealing with the small press for the first book worked out quite well for me as they gave me some support and also considerable autonomy. And although my journey with the second publisher is still in its early stages, I had heard and read much—most of it quite good—about The Wild Rose Press and am looking for great things from them as the book sales move forward.
How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing it, or did it come later?
The final title, Blood on the Chesapeake, is actually the third for the novel. My earlier versions such as the original, The Rightful Haunting of Stephenson High, stressed the ghost story, more emphasis on the haunted rather than on the murder, After I participated in a writing conference, I learned I needed to select a title that was shorter and more focused on the suspense and mystery. Also, the title needs to play well on the web, especially on keyword searches, which I hope the final title will do.
Tell us about the cover design process. Did you have a basic idea of what your book cover would be like?
Yes, from the start, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted on the cover. I was hoping for images that capture both the peaceful beauty of the setting and the ugly menace that hangs over the place. I wanted an image that carried at least a suggestion of the widow’s walk and the infamous railing and was pleased with how it was portrayed in the final version.
Who is your cover designer and how did you find him/her?
Since my novel is being published by The Wild Rose Press, I worked with designers who contract with the publisher. With the help of my editor at TWRP, I was able to narrow down possible designers by reviewing work they had done for other TWRP authors. When I saw her earlier work, I chose Debbie Taylor.
How was your experience working with the designer?
Because of going through the publisher, I didn’t work directly with the designer. Instead, though TWRP, I provided her with a visual description of what I had in mind, including the key elements, as well as a few photos. Then, she did her best to interpret that in art for the cover. Her first try was off the mark—with more the look of a romance bodice ripper—so I requested a different interpretation. Her second rendering was much closer to my vision and hence the final cover was born, complete with sailboat, center railing and ghost shadow.
What has been the readers’ response to your cover?
Though it is early, readers’ response has been exciting thus far. They have mentioned the mystery and menace captured in the images, as well as the water background. Readers have said the cover keeps them guessing—which I think is what I want.
What tips would you give to authors who are looking for a cover designer?
First, try to articulate what you want your cover to accomplish, if possible in photos and description. Obviously, you have to manage within your limits, whether that be working with a publisher or working within a budget. Also, before you select a designer, do your homework and check out their products. It’s not merely a matter of being a good artist and designer. There are many talented designers out there, but they have very different artistic visions and styles. If you’re considering a designer, ask: do his/her previous covers fit what you’re looking for your novel?
Anything else you’d like to say about your book?
I’d like to think my new novel will appeal to a broad range of readers. One of the early reviewers for the book, best-selling and Edgar award-winning author, William Kent Krueger, made this exact point: “For those who enjoy a mixed bag in the books they read, Randy Overbeck has performed a nifty literary feat. Within a web woven of threads from a number of genres—a bit of romance, a lot of mystery, and a good deal of old-fashioned ghost whispering—he’s written a pretty solid social commentary.” So if you’re looking for a little romance or if you’re on the hunt for a good whodunit or if you’d like to curl up with an old-fashion ghost story or if you just want to be transported to a “setting to die for, you’ll find all four in Blood on the Chesapeake. And, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.