Why did Helen Cothran create the Sam Larkin Mystery series?

“I wanted to help people think critically about the important issues of our time. I have taught college critical thinking classes and edited texts on controversial issues, so obviously I am drawn to the work. But I was always seeking a less academic, more enjoyable way of helping people evaluate arguments. As a long-time mystery lover, I could see the possibilities. Hot-button issues ignite intense emotions—perfect fodder for a murder mystery.

So I created the character of Sam Larkin, the clear-eyed writer of educational books who hasn’t a clue about her own emotions. And I plunked her down in the fictional town of Desert Rock, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the two towns I grew up in, Trona and Ridgecrest, California. I love the desert and care about the way it is treated—it is such an exploited, undervalued place. I saw lots of opportunity to highlight the issues impacting it and inspire people to care. Plus, the desert is the perfect nemesis for Sam, who gets along with it about as well as she does her brother and sister!

Finally, like Sam, my own mother died of cancer. You don’t go through something like that without being transformed. I didn’t move back home after she died like Sam did—but her loss inspired me to write these books. I think she would have liked them.”



Stock photo credits: Drought © Anton Prado | Rusting car submerged in sand © cultura2 | Western Chuckwalla lizard © Sebastien Fremont
Death Valley Warning © AxelL | Police Investigation © Chisnikov | Lizard Bearded Dragon aka Sandfire, focused on eyes © lipowski —