[ The Authors Behind the Books ]

M.M. Gornell – The Author Behind the Books

When I first read Uncle Si’s Secret, or maybe it was Death of a Perfect Man, by award-winning author M.M. Gornell, I had a epiphany. So this is what it means when the location becomes another character in the book. Her Route 66 mysteries show her love for that iconic highway. Many of her books are standalones, but there are a few with repeat characters, including her latest, Rhodes Never Forgotten. 

By now you know the drill. I ask questions so you can discover the author behind the books. Rather than Where do you get your ideas? I ask What’s your favorite joke?

And now, on to Madeline’s answers.



Thanks, Jackie for asking me to visit! I found all your questions interesting, and they made me think about my writing. Always a good thing! I tried to answer all your questions. It was a lot of fun.

We writers love all our characters. Sometimes the most troublesome child can be a secret favorite. Is there one character you find especially troublesome, and are they your favorite? What makes you love them? Or do you wish they had never wriggled into your book?

I think I can honestly say I don’t have any characters that wriggled their way into my books, but I think there are a couple that wriggled their way from minor roles to big time players. Douglas “Hermit” Chan immediately comes to mind. He started as an “interesting” desert sideline character but now has moved up to one of the “stars” in my latest WIP (early days) involving a camera obscura that Hermit proposed and ended up building.

I have to “like” (even when I hate their evil, villainous acts) all my characters in some way to write about them. For me, liking characters is a big deal when it comes to writing about them and also in enjoying works by others—books, TVs, movies, too.

Can you give us an example of a piece of research for a book that you especially enjoyed doing? Why was it so much fun?

Research is fun for me when I’m learning about something new, integral to my characters or story, and of course, fun—like Cowboy hats and boots, and my latest, camera obscuras. Used to be when I first started this writing journey, research was from library or purchased books (have piles of books purchased in the 80s and 90s), but now with the internet and search engines, I can find out a lot (including pictures!) from the comfort of my desk chair. Needless to say, sometimes the research takes over at the expense of the WIP.

I also like the idea of having a central theme, i.e. Route 66 or camera obscura-like idea, as a focus for the story to revolve around. Several of those focuses and research were for naught. The stories never actually materialized. Like a story around ley lines, or druids, or witches. (stolen from Midsomer Murder episodes).

What is one trait or habit your character has that would drive you crazy in real life?

Clicking out the side of his mouth. Chief of Police Glover Deers does that. And unfortunately Leiv and Deputy Walker have picked up the habit! Jeez, drives me crazy!

Everyone loves to laugh. Can you share your favorite joke?

I love jokes, especially “pun” type, but no matter how hard I try, can’t remember them. A lot of jokes appear on FB from friends, and I sure enjoy them!

Many books, especially cozies, have recipes. I, myself, have bought mysteries for the recipes! Do you have a favorite recipe that you can share with readers? Especially one that character would love to make or eat. Extra points if it’s under five ingredients.

Alas, no recipes. I do like reading about gourmet chefs and restaurants in mystery books.

What piece of advice would you give your character when everything seems hopeless? Advice you would give your best friend.

Be happy that you’re still alive on this earth.

If you could hang out with one of your characters, which would you choose, and what would you do?

Leigh-Everett “Leiv” Rhodes, my main protagonist. I’d ask him why the heck he would want to live in Shiné! (smile)

What is your favorite word or phrase that serves as a substitute for swearing?

I do use damn, sparingly. Is that considered a swear word? Also use darn and heck a lot.

Out of the books you have written, which is your favorite, and why?

My latest, Rhodes — Never Forgotten, because I think my writing is the best so far, (been trying for a lot of improvements), and I very much liked how the story tied together. Just happened, didn’t plan out exactly. Can’t say more without giving away the end.

This was great fun chatting, Jackie! Thank you so much for the invite.


Rhodes Never Forgotten

Book Blurb:

For some, the unknown future is far more interesting than past or present realities. The Mojave Desert, especially along Route 66, offers endless possibilities for exploration into past happenings, for experiencing the intensity of the desert environment in the present, and for positing unknown futures. And of course, for creating fanciful fiction spanning all time periods.


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About Author

Jacqueline Vick

After trying her hand at various jobs including telemarketer for a funeral home, Jacqueline Vick combined satirical humor and the quirks of her ginger mutt to create the Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic mysteries. In addition to mystery novels, she is the author of numerous novellas, short stories, screenplays and articles.


  1. I am such a fan of Mad’s. Her books are full of great characters and locations, and as you mentioned, Jackie, those scenic places are characters unto themselves. But it’s looking inside these characters that brings her stories to life. When you are finished with one of her books, you could walk down those imaginary streets and talk to those people, because they have come to life. Thanks for the letting others know about Mad’s great work.

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