First To Find Author’s Success No Mystery

Earlier this month, It’s Not About The Numbers published a sneak preview of Morgan C Talbot’s new book First To Find; now you can hear about it straight from the author.

Death is the hardest puzzle to solve – at least according to the catchline for Morgan C Talbot‘s new geo-thriller, First To Find.

So working out how to unite her biggest interests – writing and geocaching – whilst making a living has been relatively easy for the American author. On October 31st, the first title in her Caching Out series was released by Red Adept Publishing, earning rave reviews from fans and critics. (Not to mention a few bribes for INATN to share its advance copy.)

In fact, it all sounds rather cozy, which fittingly is the way Talbot describes her latest work: “a cozy/tech mystery”.

For those unfamiliar with the term, it defines a fiction subgenre which downplays sex and violence in favour of a socially intimate location and lead characters who are typically out of their comfort zone.

True to form, Talbot says First to Find features an amateur pair of geocaching sleuths – “an adventurous American named Margarita and Bindi, a saucy Australian, who pack in some serious mystery solving between geocaching jaunts. It’s fast-paced fun with a quirky cast of characters and plenty of geocaching for everyone.”

The popular activity was ideal for her first mystery novel – and the rest of the Caching Out series – she says, as “every cache is a miniature mystery”. “Honestly, every time I go out caching, my heart rate gets an uptick just from the excitement of the unknown. (Well, that and logging my finds.)

“So a couple of years ago, when I checked around for mystery books involving geocaching and didn’t find any, I decided to write my own. Mysteries and geocaching just fit together perfectly in my twisted little brain.”

It’s been nine years since Talbot took up “this ever-surprising hobby” herself, though the wife and mother admits her find rate has dropped somewhat over the years. “I’ve raised two small children in that time, and I’ve begun writing seriously, so I don’t cache like I used to but I always enjoy a group outing, a bit of a hike and a few new smileys on a weekend.”

Author Morgan C Talbot

She first learnt of the hi-tech treasure hunt back in 2003, thanks to her “shutterbug” mother who was “all excited about a new past-time that combined outdoor exercise with the opportunity to take nature pictures.

“Best of all, she convinced my dad to start caching as well, because he’s a gadget junkie. He’d amuse himself with the GPS unit’s functions while my mom hiked up and down, back and forth, and found the caches.

“Me, I’m competitive and I like a challenge. I want to find the cache because it’s there, because someone hid it from me.”

However, the Washington State author says she has mostly resisted the urge to feature herself, her family or geocaching pals in the pages of her latest book. “I do briefly mention one real-life local cacher by her caching name, with her permission, as a thank-you for her assistance with local details I didn’t pick up on my research trip, and I’ve done the same in the manuscript for the second book, with another cacher.

“Much of what I’ve learned in my caching career was gleaned from more experienced players, and I consider the caching community’s willingness to share and lend aid and offer hints – to connect with other cachers – to be our strongest asset.”

Nor should Oregon geocachers expect any hints about real-life hides in her title’s Willamette Valley setting. “I wanted to feature local caches, I really did. But you know how it is. A book is rather a permanent addition to the world, while a geocache can suffer the predations of an uncaring muggle society at any given moment.

“Construction zones move in and bury the cache under a two-storey mound of dirt, a cacher moves away and archives all his caches, a container vanishes into the ether without so much as a ransom note. I didn’t want to pin down one cache (or more) with my book like that. In the end, that decision also gave me the freedom to place, name and design my fictional caches to my liking, so they better supported the theme of the book.”

Completing First To Find took Talbot just 25 days in May; she jokes that “it was an off-month”. And despite having penned two other titles, First to Find is her first set on this planet. “I write fantasy novels under a different pen name, so I’m used to creating entire worlds from scratch. This time, I had to base my writing in reality, and I had to adapt to that, especially in my research.

The write stuff: Her previously published titles

“Usually, I research medieval methods for creating things, foreign language patterns, animal physiology and myth, and bushels of cultural customs and details.

“But here, I found myself researching high-end GPS units, micro-breweries, steampunk decor, scrap-metal art, green technology, Australian university courses, town planning, vintage clothing etc.

“It was a great challenge, and the amount of fascinating information I learned can be measured in metric tonnes. Some of it survived editing and made it into the book, like Bindi’s Ugg boots.”

Talbot hopes this attention to detail will please her dual audience of cozy mystery readers and geocachers. “I include enough geocaching insider info for the cachers to nod and smile along but it’s presented with context, so mystery lovers will be able to keep up with the action, and maybe even pick up an interest in geocaching themselves.”

And when the not-quite 40-year-old explains that “the first proofreader at my publishing house dusted off his GPS unit and went out caching the day after he finished my manuscript”, it’s clear her plan is working.

At this stage, Talbot’s Caching Out mystery series is “open-ended”. “I plan to write books that feature the various types of geocache containers as well as other entertaining aspects about geocaching,” she says. “As long as cachers keep finding new ways to have fun with million-dollar satellites, I’ll have fresh material for future books.”

Her next title, Death Will Attend, is due out in February and will feature a Valentine’s Day event cache, she says. “It harks back to the classic mystery style of Agatha Christie’s excellent novels. In it, I have a themed costume ball, too many blonde suspects, a sheriff with a secret, an impossible corpse and a ‘Logbook Bandit’.

“Margarita will learn a tragic secret and reveal one of her own. And Bindi will solve her share of conundrums in the book as well, so no worries – as if I could stop her.”

Until then, Talbot is happy basking in the “very positive” public reaction to First To Find. “I’ve received near-fanatical responses of excitement from some dedicated geocachers as well, so I know I wasn’t alone in wanting the world to contain more geocaching-related stories. So far, though, no one has asked me to autograph their GPS unit. Maybe next month.”

*You can buy your own copy of Morgan C Talbot’s First To Find through Amazon for US$11.99, Kindle for US$4.99, Smashwords for US$4.99, and OmniLit for US$4.99.
**Follow the remainder of her First To Find blog tour here, and be sure to enter Red Adept Publishing’s competition shown below. It’s Not About The Numbers will have its own giveaway from tomorrow.

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  1. Morgan Talbot

    Thank you very much for this in-depth interview. I’m so pleased and excited to have INATN as a contributing member of the FIRST TO FIND blog tour. It’s exciting to include geocaching bloggers in the publicity for a novel about our own hobby.

  2. Shannon

    I love that you started caching first, rather than caching just to be able to write this novel. It is really cool that you turned a hobby into a novel. Thanks for sharing today!

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