Saturday, May 14, 2022

Then A Cowboy Walked In



HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Do you watch Ozark? I love it. I truly love it. And I loved the ending, too, but of course will not discuss it. (Although someday, we should.)

And whenever it was on, the name “Claire Booth” would always spring to my mind. The first time, I was perplexed. I mean, I love Claire, and I love her books, and I also love her main character, a sheriff named Hank. (Which I gotta admit took a bit of getting used to.)

But why would her name come to mind at "Ozark"? Well, silly me. Of course.  As you're about to see. And today she delves into a very intriguing place: Her own mind.

The Cowboy in My Filing Cabinet

   by Claire Booth


Six years ago I was out selling the first in my Sheriff Hank Worth series, with several of events down in the very area where the books are set—Branson and the southern Missouri Ozarks. I was manning the signing table at the local Books-a-Million when a cowboy and long-skirted prairie woman walked in. This being Branson, no one batted an eye. 

People show up all over town dressed in all manner of costumes.

As his friend perused the shelves, the cowboy wandered over and we started chatting. It turned out that he was a musician for a local theater, where they did breakfast shows. For timeshare sales. I was fascinated. I’d always thought that timeshare pitches only came through those resort weekends you got for free as long as you agreed to sit through lengthy sales presentations. But during a breakfast theater show? Hmmm …

I tucked this conversation away in my memory, like a little newspaper clipping of information. And there it sat, in my mental filing cabinet, for years. Until I started work on Hank Worth Book Five. I needed inspiration so I opened up my mental drawers, rummaged around, and came upon that memory. (I’m making this sound organized, but it’s not. There’s a lot of junk in there. Who would need to remember that a friend’s brother’s dog is named Hughie? Not me, but I do anyway.)


I started doing research and it turned out that Branson—home to dozens of theaters of every size—was fruitful soil for timeshare sales pitches, including a few of the weedier, unsavory elements. There’ve been multiple complaints filed with the Missouri Better Business Bureau about the high-pressure, forced multi-hour treatment of guests at some traditional free-weekend sales presentations.


What if I put a breakfast show, like the kind my cowboy friend worked at, together with the sort of demographic who gets up early and loves a good tour group—i.e. retirees? And what if I wasn’t nice about it? What if I made the showrunners not nice about it—by withholding the promised meal?


And I was off and running. From that one cowboy chat, I was able to spin a book where a plan turns deadly and every player in Branson’s big tourism business fights for a piece of the profits. So come visit the breakfast shows in Dangerous Consequences. But bring your own snacks; there’s no guarantee they’ll feed you.

Do you have a mental filing cabinet? Whether it’s a tiny factoid about a place you’re visited or your elementary school friend’s old phone number, have you ever called up information you learned long ago and put it to good use all these years later? What was it? I’d love to know!

HANK: OH, great question! I think definitely those little snippets are tucked away in various interstitial slots throughout my head. Although I fear the fact that your friend's brother's dog is Hughie has now taken one of the empty spots.
What do you think, Reds and readers? And what snippet saved your life? Or...changed it, at least?




Claire Booth is a former newspaper reporter, which might explain why her brain stores information in the form of clipped-out news articles. She spent a decade covering crimes so convoluted and strange they seemed more like fiction than reality. Eventually, she had enough of the real world and decided to write novels instead. Her Sheriff Hank Worth mystery series takes place in Branson, Missouri, where small-town Ozark politics and big-city country music tourism clash in, yes, strange and convoluted ways. For more about Claire, her books, and her true crime television appearances, visit her at www.clairebooth.com.




DANGEROUS CONSEQUENCES
Elderly tourists visiting Branson, Missouri for a fun time are instead becoming so sick and disoriented they end up in the ER with Dr. Maggie McCleary. She asks the sheriff to investigate and, because he happens to be her husband, Hank Worth readily agrees.

When the tour operator denies responsibility, Hank digs deeper leaving Chief Deputy Sheila Turley to handle a simmering revolt within the ranks. Their policy to eliminate overtime pay has infuriated many long-time deputies. Those fired for insubordination have filed a lawsuit, while those still there sabotage Sheila at every turn.

With pressure mounting, they're called to a hit-and-run accident. But the victim's injuries haven't been caused by a car . . . she's been beaten to death and dumped by the side of the road. And she was someone they knew.

Will the victim's aggressive business dealings come to haunt them all? And can Hank and Sheila save their department from destruction?




67 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your new book, Claire . . . now I’m intrigued and looking forward to checking out the breakfast shows and finding out what’s happening to the elderly tourists . . . .

    Surprisingly enough, I have a mental filing cabinet that occasionally retrieves whatever odd piece of information I’m looking for [but I have a calendar where I write everything down, just in case that memory fails me] . . . . I’ve learned to stop thinking about whatever it is I’m trying to remember because then I have a better chance of actually remembering it . . . .

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    1. Joan, that's a great way to do it. And less stressful than rummaging around in the mental filing cabinet for hours on end (which I've been known to do!).

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:44 PM

      That is so true! Just stop thinking and you will remember!

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  2. I have discovered with watching shows with friends that I am a walking fount of trivia, whether they want to hear it or not. I just can't help myself.

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    1. One of my daughters is the same way, Mark. It's like she has every People Magazine stored in her brain.

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    2. It sounds like your filing cabinet is in excellent working order, Mark!

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    3. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:44 PM

      If you know you know! Every bit of information is valuable! I guess… :-)

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  3. What a great tidbit to remember and use in your new book, Claire. Dangerous Consequences sounds like it has got a lot of intriguing action going on. The elderly tourists getting sick, the Sheriff's department in turmoil and a victim that was beaten to death. All that demands to be followed to resolution.

    My mental filing cabinet is more helpful with older matters than current ones these days. There are times I'm surprised by what bits and bobs coming floating to the surface. Oh, and Hank, I still have the last season of Ozark to watch, which I will do soon. And, I don't remember if I've ever mentioned that my father was called Hank by his siblings and people he'd grown up with. His name was Henry, but Hank used to be a nickname for Henry.

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    1. Henry Fonda's nickname was Hank, Kathy.

      Aaand I just accessed the random filing cabinet of facts!

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    2. Kathy, it's amazing how clear facts are from way back in our lives, isn't it? And I love that your dad was called Hank!

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    3. Karen, yes, I remember that, and he was of my father's generation. Actually , he was four years younger than my father, as my father was born in 1901 and Henry Fonda was born in 1905. I can still hear my Aunt Bessie calling Daddy "Hank." Claire, I sometimes fear that remembering the "olden days" is a sign of my aging. My husband's grandmother started talking like she was riding her bicycle as a young girl when she was in the rest home, and my father was in a bit of a haze in the hospital and thought he was back on his horse named "Lucky" as a young man.

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    4. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:45 PM

      OK, Kathy! Eager to hear what you think of the ending, and then we will talk! Xo

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  4. What a great premise, Claire. I'm not sure how your books haven't made it onto my TBR pile, but I'm going to remedy that!

    I'm not sure I can access those bits and bobs as easily anymore - if I don't actually write it down, it's gone.

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    1. Edith, I'm that way with daily things--grocery items, when to pick up the kids. If I don't write it down, I don't remember (which occasionally results in some cranky children, but we won't go into that . . .). Do you use notebooks to jot book things down? I do.

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    2. Absolutely, write it down! But then the trick is 1-remember where you put the note and 2-read it!

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    3. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:46 PM

      Oh, I am so with you! Write it down!

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  5. Congratulations on your new book. Love the premise. There are lots of snippets in my head and they come out when I'm watching Jeopardy - especially when the answer is correct.

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    1. Jeopardy is the true reward for a good filing cabinet, isn't it! And I bet you're right all the time, Dru!

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:46 PM

      It is so much fun to get the right answer! So reassuring :-)

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  6. I’ve been to Branson more than once — in another life. I still dream of those apples, dipped in that huge cast iron pot of caramel, and waiting for them to cool enough to eat. This was before the Lawrence Welk crew took over the town! Clare , I look forward to your take on the area. Kudos on the new book

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    1. This above is me, Ann

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    2. Ann, the old before-the-big-theaters Branson! How wonderful that you got to go. I would love to know what you think when you read the books!

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    3. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:47 PM

      Oh, and, what an experience! I bet those were delicious…

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  7. Congratulations on your new release!
    When I hear a good dog breed (Cane Corso) or name (Floyd), I file it away in my mental database.

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    1. That's smart, Margaret. Then you'll have a whole selection at the ready when you need it!

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:48 PM

      I so agree, Claire! They will be ready when you need them…

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  8. CLAIRE: Welcome back to JRW & congratulations on DANGEROUS CONSEQUENCES. You know I have been a huge fan of Hank Worth since I won your first book here on JRW back in 2016! And it was great to see you at ABQ LCC!!!

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    1. Grace! Yes, JRW gets the credit for introducing us! I’m so glad we’ve been friends ever since. It was great to see you in Albuquerque, too!

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:48 PM

      Oh, I love hearing that! Perfect!

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  9. Congratulations on your latest! Sounds like a fun read and I love the cowboy photo!

    Little file cabinet mind - of course, although I consider mine more of a rolodex. No worries, it's not even close to alpha order.

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    1. Kait, I wish I had a mental Rolodex. If I didn't have my phone to keep track of people and their phone numbers/birthdays/etc, I don't know what I'd do!

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:49 PM

      Digression: every time I mention a Rolodex, I know there are some people in the room who have no idea what I’m talking about…

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  10. What a sinister idea, to force the elderly to hear long sales pitches for hours, while withholding food! And for the record, please define "elderly". LOL

    It almost doesn't bear thinking about how much of our brains are used up by random information, instead of the stuff we need to recall, and with odd precision. I am much more likely to remember that that plant is Dicentra spectabilis than Bleeding Heart, for instance. And just yesterday I recalled a guy who worked in an office I did, 50 years ago. We almost never spoke, but I remember Jerry Jung clear as day. I'm sure he has never given me a second's thought in those years. Our brains and their funny ways are fascinating, aren't they?

    I do love a good cowboy, so will definitely check out this series, Clare. How have I missed this?

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    1. Karen, I find that the definition of "elderly" changes each time I get near the age I think it might be. As I'm now two years out from 70, that marker has changed to 80. And, really, with all the active and passionate 70s and 80s and even 90s people, "elderly" doesn't apply to everyone of a certain age.

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:49 PM

      Completely! Elderly is a movable feast :-)

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  11. Claire, welcome to JRW. Your Sheriff Hank Worth series sounds like something I will enjoy and it's going right onto the TBR list.

    Once upon a time, I used to fly to St. Louis to visit a boyfriend, but that was many decades ago and my only experiences in Missouri. Branson sounds very different from St. Louis.

    The premise of this book brings back some memories of a time share pitch that was so aggressive it devolved to nasty. The presenter was a reasonable enough woman, but the "pusher" was a hyped up, coarse, threatening type, dressed in a $5,000 suit. His tough, board room demeanor and smarmy smile, had my husband on guard from the second he walked into the room. Irwin leaned over and whispered that he wouldn't consider doing business with this guy even if he was giving us the timeshare for free. We escaped only to spot him in the bar later, as loud and obnoxious as a frat boy on a bender. Whew!

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    1. Bravo on escaping a time share sales pitch and living to tell about it, Judy! The research I did showed that it's truly an appalling industry, which clearly you know firsthand! And yes, St. Louis is very different from the Ozarks. It makes Branson very fun to write about!

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    2. Modern interesting city, to prejudiced backwater!

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    3. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:50 PM

      Oh, Irwin knows best in this case! Escaping the timeshare! Yikes! And you have to wonder about those people, don’t you? What they really think…

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  12. There is also a robust “we can get you out of your timeshare contract” law practice subset in Branson.

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    1. You're so right! It's quite the industry as well, isn't it?

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:50 PM

      Oh, that is truly fascinating!

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  13. I've been waiting what seems like ages for your next book so I am really looking forward to this one. Congratulations! My mind is full of less than useful bits of information but I can give my dog her bone and 5 minutes later I can't remember if I gave it to her or not. And she never tells!

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    1. Your dog is smart! And yes, I do that too--especially walking into a room and forgetting why I needed to go there.

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:52 PM

      We should talk about this! Is that because we are all just moving too fast? And not really focused on what we’re doing? Honestly the amount of time I spend standing in a room thinking… Now why did I come in here?

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  14. Unfortunately, my mental filing cabinet is in disorder--like drawers pulled half open and files stuck in any which a way! I know I've read at least one of your Sheriff Hank series, Claire, but clearly the filing cabinet needs some help! I'll definitely write myself a note so I can catch up!

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    1. Thank you! I'd love to know what you think when you're all caught up!

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:52 PM

      There’s always time to re-organize! And luckily, those books will keep coming!

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  15. CLAIRE: Welcome to Jungle Reds! I remember meeting you at a mystery conference before the pandemic. The family joke is that I have a mental filing cabinet. I have a tendency to remember little details that other people do not remember, Ironically, I cannot recall off the top of my head at the moment. LOL. It is fascinating that you draw from your mental filing cabinet for a fiction novel. I often wonder if novels come from authors' dreams or a little story (less than one page) in the newspaper.

    Diana

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    1. Newspapers are definitely one of my go-to places for ideas, Diana. I don't usually remember my dreams, but who knows? Maybe they're in my subconscious filing cabinet!

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:53 PM

      It’s really fascinating to think about how much is in there that we have not ever retrieved… And then you think about something and there it is.
      The dream element is interesting too, because where do those come from? Another blog for another day!

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  16. For a long time I have had the image or a filing cabinet room in my head that is "manned" by a guy. He goes looking through the voluminous files for whatever I'm trying to recall, with varying success. Sadly, as I've aged, so has he and his efficiency has suffered.

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    1. Those mental employees don’t work very well sometimes, do they? - Claire

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:54 PM

      Oh, what a hilarious concept! Yes, sometimes those brain employees get tired…

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  17. I'm one of the newspaper snippet idea people - my mother used to send me clippings from the Syracuse Post-Standard full of crime and mayhem. I think she enjoyed hunting for terrible stories.

    I've also gotten stuck in not one but TWO time share promos, back when my husband and I were young and poor and willing to endure the pitch for a free weekend in the Bahamas or a coupon for a fancy dinner in Cancun. One wasn't too bad, but the other definitely could have pushed me to murder.

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    1. I’m impressed you survived two presentations! (This is Claire—Google isn’t letting me log in for some reason.) and it’s wonderful that your mom was so helpful in filling your filing cabinet!

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:55 PM

      Oh, Julia, I wonder if those will ever go into a book? I have done so many stories about time shares, it’s so tragic…

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  18. Claire: I'm off to find your books for my TBR. Timeshare sales pitches make me want to run in the opposite direction, but reading about one will be fun!

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    1. I think you’ll like what happens with some of my fictional time share companies, Amanda. Thank you for putting me on your TBR!

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:55 PM

      And when timeshares started, it was such a wise sounding concept, you know? And then it quickly got out of control …

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  19. I am so jealous, Claire. I'm in AZ and I have yet to have a cowboy walk into a book signing! I love the premise of the new book and how you arrived there. Can't wait to pick up the latest Sheriff Hank Worth!

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    1. Thank you, Jen!

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:56 PM

      I keep thinking it sounds like the beginning of a joke… Cowboy walks into a book signing…

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  20. My filing cabinet gets its drawers stuck quite often but eventually something will fall out, useful or not. The first timeshare pitch we went to made me swear off of them forever. Unfortunately the message didn't get to Frank and I suffered through two or three more of them until the threat of murder got through his thick head. One of them was in Branson and the "prize" was free tickets to a show. Oddly enough none were available for the shows I wanted to see. Hmmmm. I need to get caught up with your series, Claire!

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:56 PM

      It can be so predatory! Terrifying.

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  21. Pat, I’m shocked—shocked!—they didn’t have tickets available for popular shows after putting you through a time share presentation. 😉 I hope you were able to see something you wanted to at some point during your stay!

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 14, 2022 at 10:57 PM

      Claire, thank you so much for being here today! And congratulations on your book… I love Sheriff Hank, as you know! And I think this storyline sounds absolutely fantastic!

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