Can you tell us a little about your debut novel “The Dead Won’t Tell”?
It’s an edgy Southern mystery. Abbie, a failed historian turned journalist, chases down the cold case murder of a young Black girl the night when, on July 24, 1969, the Apollo 11 crew returned to earth and the college campus was one big party. At first only interested in resurrecting that famed night, Abbie quickly realizes that the case is still unsolved because nobody wanted to dig deeply enough. So she interviews the victim’s college friends, many retired by now, whose memories of that night may be faulty. She talks to people who were close to the investigation at the time whose memories may be tainted by prejudice. And she talks to honored citizens whose memories might reveal their own agenda. When her uncomfortable questions break through social and racial barriers, Abbie’s tenacity ruffles one too many feathers. One witness after another ends up dead and it becomes clear that the killer is still out there, trying to silence the past forever.
The novel explores how our own prejudices and stereotypes taint the way we see reality.
What was the inspiration behind this novel?
I’ve lived in the Deep South for over twenty years and while not disparaging others, I’ve found that my neighbors had the most wonderful ways of telling stories. Bits and snippets would stick in my mind. One day, someone told the story of being in Huntsville, AL (the Rocket City) the day the Apollo 11 astronauts splashed down from the Moon mission. Huntsville (a real town where NASA developed rockets), was home to Otto Von Braun’s team, and the town broke out into a spontaneous parade/party to celebrate the success of the mission. Overnight, in my dreams, that story morphed into the perfect cover for a murder.
What is your writing process like?
I start drafting with the murder(s) themselves – I always have to know who gets killed and how and who the killer is. Then, I outline the major plot points. It’s a kind of top-down approach until I can “see” the story line. I “pants” my way between the plot points (that’s the time the characters themselves tell the most wonderful stories).
Have you always wanted to be an author?
Oh, only since I was, like five-years-old.
What drew you to the mystery genre?
Nancy Drew. My mother used to take us garage-saling every Saturday and we could pick up Nancy Drews (first editions!) for twenty-five cents. Eventually, I’d read them all (that there were at the time) and was bored. So, the next Saturday, we picked up a used typewriter and paper. Then, Mom turned me on to Agatha Christie.
What is something you want your readers to take away from the story?
Ultimately, The Dead Won’t Tell is a story of resentment and redemption, of acknowledgement and forgiveness. All very human qualities.
What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Write EVERY day. Without fail. Even if it’s only for ten minutes. Your creativity is a muscle that must be exercised.
What kind of books did you read growing up?
The previously mentioned Nancy Drews and Agatha Christie. When I was eight or so, an uncle gifted me a copy of The Hobbit. I think I read that one in one day. So, murder mysteries and fantasies with dragons. Lethal combination.
What are you currently reading?
I always have a couple of books “in progress”. I had the great fortune of meeting Hank Phillippi Ryan at Killer Nashville this summer and am in the middle of Her Perfect Life right now. Also, deep into the second installment of Naomi Novik’s Scholomance trilogy, The Last Graduate. And because I’m a sucker for true crime, I am listening to the audio of Paul Holes’ Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases.
And finally, what are you currently working on?
The sequel to The Dead Won’t Tell, of course. Just got one more murder to figure out….
About the Author
S.K Waters stepped into the writing scene with her debut mystery novel, The Dead Won’t Tell in September of 2022, but she has wanted to be an author practically her entire life. In her alternate lives, she was a technical writer, a database administrator, and a championship quilter. S.K grew up in New Jersey and still misses the state to this day. She is now working on the sequel to her debut.