When Hunter Kittrell and his beautiful friend Miki arrive in Beaufort, NC, for their summer stay, they decide to liven up the small town by pulling a harmless prank. That prank, however, quickly finds them deeply entangled in a blood bath face-off with a knife-wielding serial killer. As the usually peaceful town is plunged into chaos, Hunter and Miki find themselves drawn more deeply into the investigation, and it turns out their connection to the murders might not be as tenuous as it seemed at first. As the investigation continues, burning questions bubble: Why is Hunter being framed for at least one of the murders? And why does his missing father’s name keep popping up all over town? Everything crashes to a startling conclusion on Hunter’s 21st birthday, when Hunter is forced to face the truths he’s been running from his whole life.
Targeted Age Group:: 16+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
In the summer of 2013, with huge help from Wisdom House Books, I self-published a novel titled A Higher Voice. My reasons for taking that publishing route were many, but at the top of the list was the simple fact that A Higher Voice, described by one reviewer as “a sprawling novel,” refused to fit neatly into a single genre slot. Despite not being a work that most traditional publishers would consider, the story resonates with readers, and sales have continued to exceed my expectations. Encouraged, and on a bit of a roll, I decided to pull out the manuscript for a suspense novel I had written In the late nineties, which now is titled A Deeper Cut. Again, with help from Wisdom House Books, I published this novel in February 2014.
So why did I write these two novels? First of all, the story begins with the characters, for me. These characters walk around in my head a while, and they begin to tell me their stories. As the story progresses, I more and more hear the way they would speak, understand the way they would think. Even as I seek to craft a well-constructed story, the heart of what I do is to make the characters live and breathe for the reader. Beyond the characters and my desire to tell a good story, however, I want to tell a story that has meaning. And not in the “shove-it-down-your-neck, you have to believe what I believe” kind of way.
In A Deeper Cut, the events surrounding Hunter Kittrell, a college kid, require him to peel back the layers of long-hidden family secrets in order to discover the things that make life worthwhile. Hunter is forced to choose between forgiveness and justifiable anger. As in A Higher Voice, the spiritual implications within A Deeper Cut are subtle, and the reader can view the story through their own spiritual lens and find the conclusion satisfying.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
It is my intention to write really good stories, and the best stories aren’t about perfect people. The best stories are about what happens when you back a flawed character into a corner. I call my characters “unlikely heroes.” In A Higher Voice, Britt Jordan is an unlikely hero because he has such a ragged past and he has so much to lose. When he marries a small-town gal, he puts her life in danger because a jealous stalker wants her dead. How much is Britt willing to sacrifice to keep her safe? In A Deeper Cut, Hunter Kittrell is an unlikely hero because he’s such a typical college kid–cocky, careless, unwilling to commit to life. Is he willing to let go of resentments and hurts in his past in order to become the man–and hero–that his friend needs?
A great joy is creating characters–getting inside their heads, knowing what they’re seeing, smelling, tasting and what they think about those things. My greatest joy is when a reader tells me she didn’t want the book to end because they didn’t want to leave the characters’ world.
He sat on a bench on a balmy spring day and sharpened his knife. Nobody paid any attention. People walked right by him on Beaufort’s wooden boardwalk, inspecting the yachts in their moorings, taking in the calm morning blue of the inland water. Overhead, a gull shrilled a question, and another one answered. Close by, somebody hosed down a yacht, the sound of water spraying the only ambitious noise on the waterfront.
He could make out snatches of conversation as people strolled by. A kid, excited: “Hey, look. That boat’s from Jamaica. How did it get to North Carolina?” A woman, with anticipation: “Ooh, this place has grouper sandwich! Let’s eat here for lunch.” A man, quite seriously: “The tide’s going out.”
Actually, the tide had just turned and was coming back in. He knew this because he knew the water. Smiling to himself, he returned the knife to its sheath. People may not have noticed his knife today, but very soon, all of Beaufort would fear it.
A couple strolled by, and he watched them closely. The young woman was quite beautiful, and he could tell by the lift of her chin and the sway of her hips that she enjoyed the stares she was drawing. The white gauzy skirt she was wearing flowed seductively in the breeze, and she dangled a wide-brimmed blue hat in one hand.
The young man sauntered along, one hand in his pocket, the other lightly brushing his companion’s back. To the casual observer, the young man might appear nonchalant, unaffected by the glances from other folks on the waterfront. But the man with the knife was far from casual. He could read a cocky swagger in the square of the young man’s shoulders. He knew to the minute what time the couple had arrived in Beaufort the previous evening, and he even knew the young man’s name: Hunter Kittrell.
Just then, a kitten, perhaps lured by the odor of frying burgers that drifted from the closest restaurant, danced around his legs, bumping him, begging attention. When he picked it up, it purred. Perfect timing. A Kittrell and a kitten in the same breath. He decided to call himself “The Cat.”
Sheri grew up in Mt. Airy, NC, and still lives thereabouts with her husband and a pup named Cercie. Together, they’ve made a living running a couple of small business, and made a life doing the things they enjoy—traveling, hiking, camping, kayaking. Sheri loves music and yoga, inventing gourmet meals from
random ingredients, laughing with friends, and most especially spending time with her daughter. A graduate of High Point University, she has burned more pages than most people will ever write, and is currently scribbling a third novel, which may or may not survive the flames.