Mysteries on North America's Highways
Mysteries on North America's highways are the focus of a new series of books by author R.E. Donald. Proud Horse Publishing has released two ebooks in a series featuring long haul truck driver J. Hunter Rayne, a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police homicide detective who continues to get involved in murder investigations. With digital publishing, Donald intends to reach readers who enjoy realistic characters, no gratuitous violence, complex plots with multiple suspects, and a surprise ending.
“It’s the future of publishing, and an exciting one at that,” says Donald. It gives the writer an opportunity to connect directly with the reader, bypassing the gatekeepers of traditional publishing. The overriding concern of literary agents and publishing houses is whether or not a book will make enough money to justify the expense of putting it into print. Agents and publishing houses can’t afford to take many risks with new authors and new ideas, which is why many mystery genre heroes seem so alike: the wise cracking female P.I., the rough around the edges homicide detective, the exceedingly clever defense lawyer, or the ingenuous amateur sleuth. Donald’s "semi-" professional sleuth is a long haul truck driver.
Donald’s main character, Hunter Rayne, is a former RCMP detective, travelling the highways of western North America in a big blue Freightliner. Hunter is a very Canadian protagonist: he’s soft spoken, chivalrous and above all, polite. Another main character, Hunter’s dispatcher Elspeth Watson, on the other hand, is loud, impulsive and swears like a – well – a trucker. After a painful divorce, Hunter has chosen the solitary life of a long haul trucker in order to avoid emotional entanglements and simplify his life, but thanks to Elspeth he keeps getting drawn into murder investigations.
“One of the basic tenets of writing is to ‘write what you know,’” says Donald. “With my twenty years experience in the transportation industry, it was a natural choice for my series’ milieu.” Donald’s late husband, Jim Donald, was at one time well-known in the B.C. trucking community and there are elements of him in the character, Hunter Rayne. “I try to write the kind of mystery novel I like to read, with realistic characters, multiple suspects and an intriguing puzzle to solve.”
The challenge of releasing an e-book without the support of a traditional publisher is bringing it to the attention of readers who will enjoy it. With hundreds of thousands of e-books available on Amazon, and over 4000 “pages” of books in the mystery category alone, it’s hard to get noticed. Fortunately, a number of websites are springing up that feature information on e-books of various genres, complete with reviews from readers. “I don’t expect to get rich,” says Donald, whose paperless novels sell for only $2.99, “but I get great satisfaction when a reader tells me they can hardly wait for my next book.”
The first novel in the Hunter Rayne highway mystery series is Slow Curve on the Coquihalla, set in Washington, B.C. and Alberta, and the second is Ice on the Grapevine, with action moving from California to B.C. Ice on the Grapevine is one of the nominees for the Global EBook Awards for 2012, and Donald hopes to be in Santa Barbara, California for the Awards ceremony in August. She is hard at work on the third novel in the series, set primarily in Whistler, B.C.