Mary Castillo’s novels have turned romance and paranormal mystery readers into dedicated fans. Her latest, “Lost in the Light” and “Girl in the Mist” have been widely praised by critics and readers. “Lost in the Light,” the first in the Dori O Paranormal Mystery series, finaled in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence. She is also the author of “Switchcraft,” “In Between Men,” and “Hot Tamara.” Her novellas are featured in the anthologies “Orange County Noir,” “Names I Call My Sister,” and “Friday Night Chicas.” She lives with her family in Orange County, California.
For more about Mary and her books, visit www.MaryCastillo.com.
What’s your favorite scene in “Lost in the Light” and why?
There are so many! The book really came to life in the fourth and fifth drafts when I was able to make real connections between the characters I had created and real people from my historical research. For example, Vicente’s crime lord boss, James Mc Clemmy, was initially just something I’d created in my imagination. In my mind, he was a large Black Irish guy with a big voice, barrel chest, black hair, and cold blue eyes. He lived in the best hotels in San Diego, L.A., and Santa Barbara, commanding his empire that brought in hooch from Mexico into the United States.
There is very little written about Prohibition on the West Coast and yet, it was just as wild as it was back in Chicago and New York. However, when I started “playing” on genealogy research sites, I found an article in the L.A. Times about a bootlegging boss who was sentenced to McNeil Federal Prison in Washington. His name was James Ryan. I extended the search to locate his prison intake record, which indicated he was a six-foot man with curly black hair and blue eyes!
It was as if history was telling me, go for it; that my instincts were leading me straight and true. A similar thing happened with Anna, the young woman Vicente had died to protect. I had thought her backstory was a little farfetched but upon spending some hours at the San Diego History Center, I located an interview with a woman who had been “sold” at the age of 12 by her parents to a much older man. She had to live with his mother until she was of age to marry him!
And then again, I was worried about Dori’s PTSD being too over the top. But my parents introduced me to their friend and retired police officer and he confirmed her reactions were very authentic. Also, he gave me a great real-life crime to use in a future book!
So with that kind of confirmation, I completed the book with a cold-hearted villian, a mysterious young woman, a very handsome and devilish ghost, and of course, Dori, the heart and soul of the book.
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Ever since I was a child, my parents always took us Christmas “lighting.” We’d go to neighborhoods in Chula Vista, Whitney Circle, and Candy Cane Lane, where all of the houses would be decorated with lights and displays. Candy Cane Lane is no more, but my husband and I take our son Christmas Lighting to Whitney Circle and other places in Orange County.
If a reader curls up with your book on a cold, winter night, what’s the perfect seasonal beverage you’d recommend?
As you’ll read in “Lost in the Light,” Dori is a tea devotee! On a cold wintry night–in a drafty Victorian no less–she would recommend a Chai Latte using Good Earth’s Roiboos Sweet and Spicy Blend. First, she heats the milk to almost boiling and then soaks the tea bag for three minutes, or five minutes if you like it super spicy. Pull on some thick socks and cozy flannel jammies, and you’re ready for some thrills and chills!
What are you working on next?
I’m working on “Lost in Whispers,” the second novel in the Dori O Paranormal Mystery series. It is scheduled to release in October 2015. And once again, historical research and instinct are guiding me!
Lost in the Light
By Mary Castillo
A soul held captive . . .
One October morning in 1932, Vicente Sorolla entered the white house on the hill and was never seen again.
Now, Detective Dori Orihuela witnesses his brutal murder in her nightmares.
Drawn to this tough but tender woman, Vicente materializes out of her butler’s pantry and asks her to find his lost love, Anna. Dori wonders if she’s not only about to lose her badge, but also her sanity. Instead, she learns how to live and love again from a dead man who becomes her friend.