I recently had the chance to sit down and chat with fellow mystery author C. Michele Dorsey to talk about her title GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. It’s a fast-paced suspense novel you’ll want to get your hands on.
Penny Goetjen: Having written two mysteries set in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I’ve enjoyed reading your Sabrina Salter Mystery Series and accompanying Sabrina on her escapades on St. John, Michele. I understand your soon-to-be-released GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN is a standalone mystery. Where does it take place and how did you decide to set the story there?
C. Michele Dorsey: The story takes place in Boston during the autumn, which is when the city is most glorious. I chose Boston because it’s a city of neighborhoods, each with its own personality. Boston is also filled with cultural, educational, medical, and legal institutions and more sports teams than you can root for. I tried using as much of that richness as I could. I was born in Boston, went to nursing school there, and eventually taught at New England Law/Boston. I love Boston.
PG: It’s definitely fun to write about locations you’re intimately familiar with. What can you tell us about the storyline? Where did the inspiration come from to write it?
MD: Gone But Not Forgotten is a story about a young woman yearning for family, past and future.
Olivia’s mother fled an abusive husband when Olivia was five. She moved to Vermont and changed their names. At 29, Olivia still doesn’t know the true identity of her family of origin, which she longs to know before starting a family of her own. Since her mother suffers from dementia, Olivia feels an urgency to find her identity. When her mother dies under suspicious circumstances, Olivia is even more determined to find out who she is while it becomes clear someone wants to stop her.
PG: Sounds like Olivia has a lot to deal with. What else can you tell us about her background?
MD: Olivia has lived under the shadow of fear her entire life, secluded in Vermont with an overprotective mother. She could never do anything to bring attention or acclaim to herself and risk being found by her father who had threatened to kill them. She becomes a research librarian and lives with her mother until she marries a psychiatric resident and moves to Boston where she decides to go to law school, which opens a new world for her.
PG: Are Olivia and Sabrina similar in any way? How are they different?
MD: Olivia and Sabrina are both women who must unravel the secrets of their families before they can claim their own individual identities. Sabrina’s story is a little sadder to me. She has been betrayed many times and has a harder time than Olivia creating a future.
PG: I see. Is there someone alive or dead who inspired Olivia? How do you relate to her? Do you see some of yourself in Olivia?
MD: I have to say Olivia is totally made-up. I have no idea where she came from. I do identify with Olivia when she is afraid to do something new. I think society traditionally has encouraged risk-taking more in males. That doesn’t mean I don’t do what I fear. Getting beyond the fear is just an additional step I have to take.
PG: Sounds like there’s at least a little bit of you in Olivia! Which character in GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN was your favorite to write? Which one was the most difficult?
MD: I don’t know why, but I loved writing Nick Wojcik, especially the scene in the Jacob Wirth restaurant that was an institution in Boston until it recently closed.
I found Olivia most challenging to write. I had to show how the scars from her past affected her without turning her into a whining, helpless female. I had to grow her a spine!
PG: I’m glad you were able to keep Olivia from being a whiner. I love to read strong female protagonists. Good job with that. Besides being a standalone, how is GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN different from your previous titles?
MD: I found the pacing faster. There was also a little pressure to completely fill out the characters in one book because I knew there wouldn’t be others.
PG: A one-and-done novel does force you to be more thorough, doesn’t it? You never get the chance down the road to layer in more depth in your characters. When will GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN be available and where can we get a copy?
MD: July 4, 2023 at independent bookstores, Amazon and Barnes & Nobles, and wherever books are sold.
PG: Great! I know everyone reading this will want to get their hands on a copy. What’s next? Any writing projects in the works or on the horizon?
MD: I am editing two books I completed during the pandemic and I am writing installments for a new suspense novel on Substack one chapter at a time. micheledorsey.substack.com
PG: You’ve been busy! Sounds like an interesting project on Substack. I’ll have to check that out. Thanks for the link. And thank you for stopping by to chat about your new release. I wish you the best of luck with it!
MD: Thanks for having me, Penny. It was fun!
Bio: C. Michele Dorsey is the author of Oh Danny Girl and the Sabrina Salter series, including No Virgin Island, Permanent Sunset, Tropical Depression, and Salt Water Wounds. Her latest novel, Gone But Not Forgotten, will be published by Severn House in July 2023. Michele is a lawyer, mediator, former adjunct law professor, and nurse who didn’t know she could be a writer when she grew up. Now that she does, Michele writes constantly, whether on St John, outer Cape Cod, or anywhere within a mile of the ocean.