Q: Why did you decide to return to some of the characters from Burn You Twice in your new novel?
A: There was so much left unsaid about Burn You Twice’s secondary character Ann Bailey, a forensic psychologist. She’s brilliant, a dedicated mother, and keeping secrets she’ll do anything to protect. I wanted readers to discover what she was hiding in her own stand-alone novel.
Bryce McCabe only made a cameo in Burn You Twice but there were enough questions regarding his attraction to Ann to fill a novel.
And finally, there’s Elijah, the ex-con, wrongly accused of arson, who is as charming as he is complicated and dangerous.
Q: What inspired the plot of Near You?
A: There were a couple of jumping off points for Near You.
First, the Montana setting was a big inspiration. The state is as beautiful as it is rugged and treacherous, and I had to incorporate it into the story. And of course, the characters who I could not stop thinking about!
Once I decided on where and who, my focus shifted to the villain who brings a unique, and some have said unforgettable, brand of trouble.
After I worked out these building blocks, it was a matter of asking lots of whys, baking cookies when the plot stuck, and then polishing until the story came together.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?
A: I hope the story lingers with readers. Near You has a satisfying ending, but there are a few issues that could never be fully resolved. What are those? Well, you’ll have to read Near You to find out. And when you do read Near You, I would love to hear your thoughts
Q: You've written several dozen novels as Mary Burton and a few more as Mary Ellen Taylor. Are you usually working on more than one novel at a time?
A: Yes. If I’m writing one, I’m either plotting, editing, or researching the other.
The Mary Burton and Mary Ellen Taylor novels are so different, each offers unique joys and challenges. Mary Burton novels require forensic and police work research, whereas Mary Ellen Taylor novels mean pouring over dozens of history books.
And please don’t ask me to choose which one I like best! I love writing under both names.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: My next Mary Burton novel is Don’t Look Now, and it will be out in September 2021, and my next Mary Ellen Taylor novel, The Words We Whisper, will be released in July 2021. The current WIP is a Mary Ellen Taylor novel and I’ve plotted the next Mary Burton novel.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: My three mini dachshunds, Buddy, Bella, and Tiki, still run the show in our house.
My husband, the pups and I have made several trips to the Outer Banks of North Carolina recently so that I can research my next Mary Ellen Taylor novel. The historical detail on the Outer Banks is so rich and the beaches are amazing.
I’m still an avid baker, and I love my early morning walks.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Mary Burton.