In the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, mystery writer M. A. Cortez crafted a tale of two sisters who meet two sisters with secrets to hide. Drawn to the irresistible unknown, the young sleuths pursue a line of inquiry that combines deduction with the acute in-your-face panache of youth. Welcome to the blog, M.A.
Your character Samantha has Autism Spectrum Disorder. How did you prepare your character in terms of research?
Samantha’s character was inspired by a family member who is on the spectrum but is much younger than Sam. I did further research by interviewing teens and siblings of teens on the spectrum, and visited several online sites hosted by young people with ASD. There are many informative online resources that bring awareness to the understanding of Autism.
Sandy and Samantha may be twins, but sharing the same birthday is where their similarities end. Sandy is desperate to find a friend she can relate to. Samantha lives life on the Autism spectrum, her social skills can be off putting to some, but her honesty is endearing to others. Sandy likes cute boys and cute clothes. Samantha likes math and mysteries. It seems like the girls will never find a common ground until they stumble upon another set of siblings. Sisters who are hiding secrets, telling lies, and living in the shadows of the past.
Does Samantha’s ASD advance her deductive powers?
I would say she’s a natural born detective, but yes, I believe her fascination, (single mindedness tends to be a common trait among those on the spectrum) with the Nancy Drew mysteries gives her an advantage. Individuals on the spectrum often have an eye for detail, which of course makes for a good detective.
Twin siblings I’ve known over the years acknowledge a shared telepathy: if her sister is ill, she feels it too. Do Sandy and Samantha possess the same ability?
They can definitely hone into each-other’s energy but not things like injuries, or physical pain.
The girls find common ground when they discover the siblings. Can you tease us with a little more from the plot?
The second set of siblings, Adriana and Anabelle, had a quarrel that they never had the chance to resolve. It’s the bond of sisterhood that motivates Samantha and Sandy to help their new friend solve the mystery of her twin sister’s death.
I pace back and forth in front of my computer, compelled to check my messages again. A jolt of excitement rushes through me when I see the little exclamation point that means I have a message in my inbox. As I move the cursor to open it, I realize I’m not as angry with Annabelle as I thought. I’m more curious to see what she has to say. Sandy, I know you came to my house. I watched you from the window. Was that your sister with you? I tried to get your attention with the roses. I’m trapped up here. They won’t let me leave. I hoped she would let you in, but she sends everyone one away. Please try again. I need a friend.
Sister Sleuths is a mystery. Tell us how you got started in the genre. Who are your idols?
I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew. The Sister Sleuths is my first attempt at writing a mystery. It was so much fun planting clues, asking questions and solving the mystery that I just had to write a sequel.
The past is often characterized as ‘shadowy’ in literature. Is this a popular subtext in your writing? In 27xs and Moon Dance as well?
Not in those stories, but I have a WIP titled Dream Well that fits that subtext.
You live in Colorado, a place that, to me, conjures up fabulous vistas and weather. What’s a day in your life like?
It’s not very glamorous. Most days are filled with typical household tasks. I try to write everyday or do something creative, like crafting or sewing. I love to spend time with my big family on weekends. When the weather permits I get outside and enjoy the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.
About the Author
M.A. Cortez is the author of The Sister Sleuths and the Shadowman, 27xs, and Moon Dance. She lives in Colorado surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
Thank you for joining us, M.A. Please come back again when the sequel comes out.–ABF