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Spirits Who Pester and Haunt

Randy Overbeck
Randy Overbeck Author Interview

Crimson at Cape May finds Darrel between a battle for his reputation and a battle against paranormal forces. What were some sources of inspiration that influenced this novels development?

Having lost his job—and maybe his love—in Wilshire, Darrell heads to Cape May (New Jersey) to help coach a summer football camp. With being forced to resign, he needs the money and hopes it will give him the time and opportunity to restore his reputation. When he arrives in Cape May, he finds a town almost frozen in time, surrounded by incredible Victorian mansions everywhere. But he also discovers the old seacoast town is flush with spirits who pester and haunt him to help out one of their own. Darrell has to balance both his “gift” for seeing into the spirit world with his efforts to get his old job back. In the end, he commits to help another young student whose sister has gone missing, which ties to all his problems.

There have been several times in my life where reputation, job and livelihood was threatened and I drew on these experiences and the reserves I used to meet these very real challenges to help sketch Darrell’s predicament and his way of navigating out of it. Because of my experience, my hope is the reader will find Darrell’s journey credible and something they themselves can relate to.

I enjoyed Cassie’s character and found her relatable. What were some ideas you wanted to capture in Cassie and Darrel’s relationship?

My choice of Cassie as a POV character was deliberate and carefully thought out. First of all, she and Darrell are opposites, or appear to be. Darrell is a traditional, successful (kind of) teacher and coach, from a good family and good upbringing. Cassie is none of those things. She has been abused and denigrated and runs away from her family, such as it is. Instead, she has had to learn skills to survive on her own, in her teens. But Darrell’s first instinct is to reach out and protect children and young people in trouble. As a teacher, it’s part of his DNA—a characteristic I witnessed for real in my many of my teaching colleagues. When he encounters Cassie, Darrell recognizes the vulnerability of the young woman, even through her hard-shell, street-smart armor she has wrapped herself in. Then as “sensitives,” they begin to check each other out and eventually learn to trust each other. Erin proves to be critical in their evolving relationship as she stands in almost as an older sister for Cassie. Darrell never stops feeling responsible for the younger Cassie—especially as her life is threatened—but in the end, he realizes they have to work together to solve the murder of the Haunted Bride. This fictional relationship reflects the very real dilemma that parents and teachers face everyday with teenagers. Adults who care for kids have to find a way to take care of them and try to keep them from the greatest risks, while at the same time allowing the adolescents to begin to make some decisions themselves, even though some of those decisions are unwise and even dangerous. It’s a tightrope that is not easy to navigate. Darrell, like parents and teachers, has trouble knowing when to let go.

I enjoyed the compelling mystery behind this story. Was the arc planned or did it develop organically while writing?

My approach to my stories fall some where between the “plotter” and the “pantser” mindset. Before beginning a novel, I will have completed a general outline of the story arc, of essential characters, of the crime itself and, of course, of the thematic issue. In addition, since each entry of this series is set in a new resort location (BLOOD on the Eastern Shore, CRIMSON in Cape May), I do a considerable amount of local research to ensure my setting is accurate and thorough, which in turn requires a considerable deal of planning including how the setting snd plot will interact. Layering over all that is where the ghost elements will intrude, another planning aspect.

I realize that sounds pretty far in the plotter camp, but there is much more. Then as I begin the actual manuscript, I find myself “pantsing,” more writing by the seat of my pants. As characters develop, I find myself adjusting the trajectory of the narrative and writing accordingly. There are elements of the plot and storyline that I deliberately do not plan in advance. For example, I don’t make a final decision on who the actual antagonist will be until I am well into the narrative. That way I make sure that several suspects are viable and keep my inner reader guessing until the reveal—as I hope I do for the actual readers of the novel. I do make some slight adjustments to this plotter/pantser balance for different novels but find overall this approach works well for me.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently completing the third book in the Haunted Shores Mysteries Series no title determined as yet), a Christmas ghost mystery set in Crystal River, Florida. I thought the idea of setting a holiday mystery in the warm climes of Florida’s Gulf coast to be an interesting challenge and decided to take Darrell and his new wife, Erin, on their honeymoon there. And number three will have a very different ghost twist—the ghosts are those of two young Hispanic children who have mysteriously disappeared. An added plus is this gave me an opportunity to explore another serious issue the nation is grappling with, the life of migrant workers and the fate of illegal immigrants. I hope I’ve come up with a mix that will make number three another interesting entry in the series. This third installment is scheduled for release for October 2021—in time for Christmas, of course.

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No matter how far you run, you can never really escape a haunted past.

Darrell Henshaw—teacher, coach, and paranormal sensitive—learned this lesson the hard way. Now, with his job gone and few options, he heads for Cape May to coach a summer football camp. The resort town, with gorgeous beaches, rich history and famous Victorian mansions, might just be the getaway he needs. Only, no one told him Cape May is the most haunted seaport on the East Coast.

When a resident ghost, the Haunted Bride, stalks Darrell, begging for his help, he can’t refuse, and joins forces with Cassie, another sensitive. As Darrell and the street-wise teen investigate the bride’s death, they uncover something far more sinister than a murder. Can Darrell and Cassie expose those behind the crimes before they end up becoming the next victims?

Crimson at Cape May

Darrell has a lot going on. He’s made a name for himself as the football coach of the local high school team. It’s quite possible he has finally met the love of his life, but he’s still dealing with being accused of providing steroids to his players. Just as he begins to hope things will take a turn for the better, the supernatural starts to take over and he starts seeing ghosts. Darrell, not wanting to admit a ghost is foremost on his mind, attempts to live his day-to-day life, but it’s not  working.

Darrell, the main character of Randy Overbeck’s Crimson at Cape May, is doing all he can to overcome the accusations laid against him. His current situation has put any future he might have with Erin on the edge of ruin, and the ghosts that plague him are relentless. He is struggling to overcome the stigma that now hovers over him while he battles the dark looks and cold stares from the townsfolk with whom he once traded pleasantries. In addition, Darrell is concerned about a connection between one of his troubled players and the new ghosts he has seen in Cape May.

One of the most fascinating aspects about Overbeck’s books centered around main character, Darrell Henshaw. As he moves from place to place, spirits are drawn to him and each one seems to know about the other. Overbeck uses this amazing trait to flawlessly move from one book to the next and seamlessly connect subplots.

I appreciate the introduction of Cassie. She brings a down-to-earth feel to the ghost story that spans the length of the book. Darrell is, for all intents and purposes, the one on whom the story-line relies. Cassie, however, somehow grounds the book and gives readers a truly relatable character. She questions her decisions, struggles with a low-wage job, and is conflicted about her own place in this world. She breathes a new kind of life into an already fascinating story.

The tragic subplot surrounding the young football player, Josh, and his sister, Josie, brings everything into perspective. As Darrell and Cassie team up to find out more about the ghosts plaguing them both, they are actively solving a missing persons case about which no one else in town seems to care. Along with Cassie’s story-line, Josie’s story makes the book engaging and palpable. No one wants to imagine what can happen to a young person who has run away or been abducted. The fact that the town is so hush-hush about her disappearance makes this reader’s heart skip a beat.

With both elements of mystery and suspense, readers across genres will find this second book about Darrell Henshaw intriguing. Overbeck includes just enough romance to appeal to readers who require complicated relationships in their reading as well. I thoroughly enjoy the style Overbeck uses and highly recommend Crimson at Cape May to anyone who has not tried his work before.

Pages: 357

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