The stories. I always knew I’d write a series about National Park Rangers since I’d always wanted to be one. I just didn’t know I’d have to do so much research. I thought I’d just write my usual story and have a ranger solve the crime. Not. I quickly learned the Natchez Trace Parkway Rangers were a separate entity from the National Park Service. Sort of.
The National Park Service Rangers at places like Mount Locust, Melrose, and the William Johnson House, etc. have interpretive rangers who are responsible for providing an enlightening experience to visitors of the historical sites. Natchez Trace Parkway Rangers are law enforcement rangers with their main office in Tupelo, Mississippi. Which was good for me since I could easily drive down and talk to the Superintendent.
The superintendent was so helpful. I learned that just like police officers, full-time law enforcement rangers have to undergo training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. She filled me in on their duties, and told me about the special agents who plan and conduct investigations as part of the Investigative Services Branch (ISB). BINGO! The perfect job for my hero who is out to stop the drugs traveling up the Trace.
Luke Fereday is an undercover agent working for ISB, and that causes a lot of problems with the heroine, Brooke because he keeps it a secret. She’s been an interpretive ranger for several years, but she wants to follow in her father’s footsteps as a law enforcement ranger. When the story opens, her dad is the district ranger for the Trace from Jackson, Mississippi, to Natchez. (That was something else I had to research—all the different levels of authority which is sometimes confusing since some carry the same designation.) She’d graduated at the top of the class at Glynco, and her dad was supposed to swear her in, but he died before that could happen. When the coroner ruled his death a suicide, Brook set out to prove it was murder. Of course, that put her in the murderer’s crosshairs, and in close contact with Luke.
Researching the Natchez area and the Natchez Trace Parkway was a wonderful experience. I’ve made three trips so far, and if this pandemic had not happened, I would have gone again this spring. If you ever get the opportunity to visit this small city set on the bluffs of the Mississippi River, try to go during either the Spring or Fall Pilgrimage. Natchez has more than 600 examples of Antebellum Architecture and many of them are on display during the pilgrimages. Several of them are on property owned by the Parkway. And don’t forget to go by the Natchez cemetery.
I’m sure it must sound strange to suggest a cemetery as a must-see, but if you go, you’ll see why. The Turning Angel is there and more than one novel has featured it. In fact, I’ll be featuring it in one of my books.
I guess you can tell that research is one reason I write—it gives me an opportunity to delve into things I don’t know. I’ve always heard writers should write what they know, but I think writers should write what they want to know.
Bio and Social Media links
USA Today Best-selling author, Patricia Bradley is a Carol finalist and winner of an Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award in Suspense. She and her two cats call North Mississippi home--the South is also where she sets most of her books. Her romantic suspense novels include the Logan Point series and the Memphis Cold Case Novels. Standoff, the first book in the Natchez Trace Park Ranger’s series released May 5, 2020, and she’s finished the second book, Obsession and is hard at work on the third, Crosshairs.
Writing workshops include American Christian Fiction Writers online courses, workshops at the Mid-South Christian Writer’s Conference, the KenTen Retreat where she was also the keynote, Memphis American Christian Fiction Writer group, and the Bartlett Christian Writers group. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.
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