Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tom Mach - An Innocent Murdered - Author Interview

My thanks to Tom Mach for stopping by The Plot Thickens for an author interview during the blog tour for his book, An Innocent Murdered.

Author Interview

1. Who is the plot based around?
The plot for An Innocent Murdered is based upon two central ideas. One is that sometimes we get caught up with assuming someone’s guilt even before a trial takes place. The other is that the adage that “time heals all wounds” is not necessarily true. Although An Innocent Murdered is a murder mystery involving a detective trying to solve a murder case, this novel goes beyond that. People in Rock Meadow, Kansas, assume that a priest is guilty of molesting a young girl because flimsy circumstantial evidence seems to point in that direction. Because of that, an innocent priest is murdered, but the murder conjures up bad memories for the detective, whose teenage sweetheart many years ago was also murdered and now he has to face the very suspect who did it.

2. What is the main idea of this plot?
There is one main idea in An Innocent Murdered and two subordinate ideas that tie in with it. The main idea is that a priest whom people believe is a child molester is viciously murdered in the rectory and, while the evidence overwhelming that Jacinta did it, things begin to unravel. Two persons of interest show up (one with the murder weapon) making it difficult for Matt Gunnison to believe Jacinta is the murderer, despite the evidence. There are two subordinate plots important to the main idea. One, Matt has an intimate relationship with a former nun who leads him to uncover evidence that solves a cold case murder of a young child 25 years ago in Chicago. Two, because of the former nun, Matt is able not only to solve the cold case murder but also find evidence that eventually uncovers the true murderer of the priest.

3. When does the plot take place?
An Innocent Murdered is a contemporary murder mystery. The entire time sequence in this novel goes from October 26th to December 23. This means the action in An Innocent Murdered moves quickly and that surprises await the reader virtually at the end of every chapter. The last chapter promises readers a real surprise.

4. Where does the plot take place?
The plot for An Innocent Murdered starts in a fictitious town in Kansas called Rock Meadow. But it travels to two interesting locations: Juneau, Alaska, and Chicago, Illinois. Both of these locations are important to the novel.

5. Why did the plot develop the way it did?
My novel, An Innocent Murdered, was initially intended to be a simple detective story where a priest gets murdered and the detective hunts for clues to find the true killer. But at I wrote the story, I found that the characters came alive and wanted to tell their own story. Detective Matt Gunnison was my main character. He has a complex personality and I rallied for him. He had feelings, he had inner turmoil, he had empathy--but he was a great detective. One of the characters I grew to love was Susan, a former nun, who used to teach at a fictitious elementary school in Chicago, called St. Malachy’s. To me she was a sweet 46-year-old, rather plain-looking but with a great personality. After she gets to know Detective Matt Gunnison, she trusts him with an important request--she has never had a sexual experience and would like to have one with him just to satisfy her burning curiosity.

6. How did you come up with the idea for the plot?
I wrote the original draft for An Innocent Murdered years ago when the media ran stories about sexual abuse by Catholic priests. However, I knew that the great majority of priests were very God-centered men and would never harm a child. That’s the priest in my novel--Father O’Fallon. O’Fallon was always kind toward children and the accusation against him was extremely unfair. But as I wrote the story I wanted to know how people would feel about him after they learned he was an innocent man--and I discovered that folks didn’t seem particularly upset by this revelation--except for the killer, who was frustrated because her murder of the priest was unnecessary. People who shy away from molestation stories will be happy to learn that the molestation itself is hardly mentioned and the entire focus is on the murder itself. A similar situation occurred in my other novel, Advent, where a ruthless power-hungry U.S. President sees to it that his Press Secretary is murdered because he believes she knows a secret that will destroy him--although she never knew such a secret.

About the Book
An Innocent Murdered

Book Details:
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Murder Mystery
Format: ebook
Price: $0.99
Buy Links: Kindle

Father O'Fallon has been murdered, and police officer Jacinta Perez is arrested and charged. Detective Matt Gunnison, however, is not convinced and with the help of Susan, an ex-nun, he discovers a fascinating link between the priest's death and the death of a child 25 years ago. Will Matt be able to solve both murders?

“What’s critically important here,” Matt said, “is the time this event happened. Mr. Zylinski, you said you knew it was about 9:13 pm when this occurred. How would you know that?”

“It’s all in the deposition, sir,” the man replied. “I checked my watch just before I got to my car. I had to be somewhere at ten and didn’t want to be late.”

The attorney leaned forward, a smile on her face. “I am sure you learned by now, Mr. Gunnison, that the bank clock was correct after all. During the day, that clock was not set back an hour for daylight savings time, but it was corrected by the bank manager at 6:00 that evening. So it really was 9:13 after all.”

Matt was a bit miffed at her know-it-all attitude. “Thank you for pointing that out to me, counselor.”

About the Author
Tom Mach

Tom Mach wrote two successful historical novels, Sissy! and All Parts Together, both of which have won rave reviews and were listed among the 150 best Kansas books in 2011. Sissy! won the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award while All Parts Together was a viable entrant for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Award. He also wrote a collection of short stories entitled Stories To Enjoy which received positive reviews. Tom’s other novels include: An Innocent Murdered, Advent, and Homer the Roamer.

His poetry collection, The Uni Verse, won the Nelson Poetry Book Award. In addition to several awards for his poetry, Writer’s Digest awarded him ninth place in a field of 3,000 entrants. He also has a popular blog for writers of both prose and verse.

Connect With Tom:
Web Site

A copy of Tom Mach's popular historical novel about the Lincoln assassination, All Parts Together. Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.

From Goddess Fish:

Hi! Just wanted to let you know that Tom's sister passed away Sunday and he will be unavailable to comment on your blog post on his scheduled day. If you would add that to your post and assure people he will comment once he gets back into town, we would greatly appreciate it.


  1. Another informative post. I like the point made about the two locations being important. Now I just have to wait to find out why.


  2. Thank you for hosting Tom today.

    Please note: he'll not be able to stop by as there was a death in the family and he's away for a few days. But please leave a comment, and he'll check when he's back.

  3. It ocurred to me that most of the claims of molestations by priest were against young boys. What made you decide to place a girl in this situation?

  4. Sounds like a good, topical mystery. I think that it's interesting that the characters he created drove the direction that the book ultimately takes as they told him to tell their stories.

  5. Goddess Fish, I'm so sorry for Tom's loss. I send him my deepest sympathies.

    Marybelle, Karen H in NC and TheBookGirl - thank you for commenting.

  6. Thanks everyone for your comments. I also appreciate your best wishes concerning my sister's death. She was suffering from cancer for more than two years and it was hard for me to see her that way. I know she's in heaven now.