Monday, November 12, 2018

Unexpected Cross-Pollination by Nancy Raven Smith #PreciousStones #Mystery


Please welcome my guest. I don't know about you, but the title drew me in. And it's all about how a book came about, which is always fun!

Hi, Brenda. Thank you so much for letting me visit and share how the setting for my current work-in-progress, Land Sharks - The Killer From Coober Pedy, came to be.

Most people are familiar with the phrase “cross pollination.” The obvious definition is of pollen from one type of flower being dusted onto a different one. Here, I’d like to use it as borrowing, using, and/or being inspired by a field of interest other than one’s own. This is a common occurrence for people in creative fields, and it happened to me recently from a source I didn’t expect.

My husband teaches metal fabrication and jewelry. I write mysteries. Recently, I attended a rock and mineral show with him. The fossils, rocks, and petrified wood were fascinating, but what I found most interesting were the discussions we had with several vendors from Australia who were selling opals.

Apparently, the majority of opals in the world come from two places in Australia. Lightning Ridge, which is to the northwest of Sydney, and Coober Pedy, which is located north of Adelaide in South Central Australia and part of the outback.

When I got home, I was so intrigued by Coober Pedy that I did some research and discovered some interesting facts. Here are some of them.

  • Opals were discovered in Coober Pedy in 1915 by a fifteen-year-old boy who was part of a small group of men searching for gold.
  • Top Opals are worth more per carat than diamonds.
  • Opals can often be located scattered on the surface of the ground, although most are found by digging vertical mine shafts.
  • The terrain around Coober Pedy is so barren, it’s often used in movies to represent landscapes on Mars.
  • Gold and oil have recently been discovered in Coober Pedy, making it a fortune hunter’s dream location.
  • People from over forty-five countries live in Coober Pedy.
  • The climate is so hot that many people live underground in caves and re-purposed mines to avoid the heat. 
Here’s my favorite fact - the name Coober Pedy is from an Aborigine word meaning “white man in a hole.” 

As a mystery writer, I’m interested in frauds, cons, and scams. If I can write a mystery which includes a fraud in an exotic location, along with some romance and humor, I’m happy. So I owe my husband a big thank you taking me to an afternoon rock and mineral show and introducing me to the unusual town of Coober Pedy. It became the setting for my current work-in-progress, Land Sharks - The Killer From Coober Pedy. Book two in my Land Sharks series.


When an embezzler is murdered, Beverly Hills bank fraud investigator, Lexi Winslow, tracks the stolen money to a town in the Australian outback. Unfortunately, she’s persona non grata in that country. She needs to get in, recover the money, and get out before the Australian police discover her presence. But will the unexpected appearance of an ex-lover make her linger too long? 

Excerpt from Land Sharks - The Killer From Coober Pedy
Lexi Winslow, a bank fraud investigator from Beverly Hills, and her young partner, Steve, approach the house of a suspected embezzler.
            Steve and I pass through a low hedge to reach Willis’ front door. As we do, I notice a curtain twitch at the house next door exposing a middle-aged woman peeking out at us. Nosy neighbors are probably the second best security you can have. Dogs are the first, of course. And I can hear one inside Willis’ house barking up a storm. It sounds like a smallish dog from the timber of its voice.
            Steve rings the doorbell and the dog inside turns frantic. There’s a narrow, heavily tinted bronze glass panel beside the door. In the dark interior, I can barely make out what appears to be a mixed-breed Westie. I think mixed-breed because it has spots all over it and West Highland Terriers are normally solid white. This one scratches wildly at the door. But no one responds to the bell. Steve rings again with the same result.
            “There’s someone home at the place next door. See if they know anything,” I say. “I’m going to walk around back.”
            Steve heads to the neighbor’s, and I let myself through the side gate into the fenced back yard. There are tall hedges down both sides and a low fence at the far end of the mowed yard. Beyond the fence is a dirt lane that parallels the street in front. I step carefully along the flagstone path in an effort to keep my favorite heels from being ruined by sinking into the soft dirt. Reaching the back door, I peer inside.
            The Westie unexpectedly leaps up on the other side of the glass, startling me. I hastily back a step. And then I look again at the dog through the clear, sunlit window.
            I draw my gun. Those aren’t spots on the dog’s coat, it’s blood. 
Land Sharks - The Killer From Coober Pedy (Book 2) - available Spring 2019 on Amazon. 
Land Sharks - A Swindle in Sumatra (Book 1) - Free on KU and available now on Amazon at

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