When considering how I wanted to do this post, I decided I didn't want our featured author Rick Chesler to participate in a classic interview-type deal. I wanted him to basically talk to us about his book 'Deadly Depths' in his own words. Just wanted him to share a tidbit or two about the book, the inspiration for it, and the character of FBI Special Agent Tara Shores. The following is what he shared, along with a couple of follow-up questions I felt where important for the book and the character to be appreciated even more. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy this short read!
The character of Tara Shores, the protagonist of my Tara Shores Thrillers series, is a young FBI Special Agent who finds herself assigned to extraordinary federal cases involving murders connected to scientific and technological enterprises. The first book in the series, DEADLY DEPTHS, finds Agent Shores tasked with tracking down a blue whale fitted with a webcam tag that broadcast a murder at sea on a reality show’s website.
One of the things that makes Agent Shores interesting as a person is that, although skilled with a pistol and able to hold her own in a fight, she has a serious fear of water stemming from childhood trauma during which she lost both parents in a Florida car accident involving a roadside canal. In Deadly Depths, although Tara’s supervisors assure her that she will not have to personally enter the ocean to investigate the case (they have highly specialized teams for that, she is told), events unfold such that she is left with no other recourse. This is a thriller novel, after all! As the story unfolds, Agent Tara Shores must learn to overcome her hydrophobia if she is to solve the case.
In the series’ subsequent books, Shores (her last name is no accident) continues to explore the intersection of crime, bleeding-edge technology (the bleeding is no accident, either), and the ocean.
Follow up questions:
1) Interesting stuff, Rick. Tara's backstory is intriguing and I kind of feel bad for her given how much she's surrounded by water in her own series. But that's no accident either, is it? You're kind of a water guy yourself. Can you tell the readers a bit about your background and why thrillers and adventures about the sea are so prevalent in your stories?
You’re right, Kent, I’m very much a water guy myself. I became a certified SCUBA diver at the age of 14 on Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles (both of which are settings in Deadly Depths), and have been diving and snorkeling ever since, all around the world from California to Florida to Mexico to Fiji. I just love the mysteries that the underwater world holds and as a fiction writer, I find it to be an endless source of plot ideas and settings. I also have a degree in marine biology which gave me just enough formal training to inject some realism into my fiction without going overboard on technical and scientific details. For the last decade I have lived on the water in the Florida Keys, which continues to inspire my creativity.
2) I'm curious. When coming up with Tara Shores, which came first: The character or the story itself? Tell us a little about how Deadly Depths came to be.
With Deadly Depths, the premise came first. I wanted to write a story about a marine animal tagged with a webcam that broadcast a murder at sea. I think at first, I considered a great white shark, and then maybe an Orca as the tagged animal, but eventually I settled on the planet’s largest living creature, the blue whale, for its sheer size and because as an air-breathing mammal, it needs to come to the surface frequently.
With that setup in mind, I turned my attention to the story’s protagonist. I didn’t want some Navy SEAL type who would be a natural in the water, but rather a character who would need to overcome a deeply instilled fear of the ocean if s/he wanted to succeed in both solving a murder and bringing a killer to justice. I decided further to make her female in what is still a predominantly male-dominated organization, the FBI. Enter Special Agent Tara Shores, who has both cunning criminals and personal demons to overcome in Deadly Depths.
One last thing from Rick:
I hope that you, as a reader of thrillers, crime fiction and even action-adventure, will give the Tara Shores Thriller series a try. If you do, I’d love to hear your honest thoughts in a review. Many thanks for taking the time to get to know Special Agent Shores, and happy reading!
Thanks Rick, for taking some time to talk to us about Tara and Deadly Depths. While I have everyone's attention, we wanted to let you know that Tara Shores will return in at least two other thrillers: 'Treacherous Tropics' and 'Perilous Pacific'. Each book will be released around six or seven months of each other, so be on the lookout for Treacherous Tropics around June/July 2024!