Becky Masterman is an American author whose debut novel ‘Rage Against the Dying’ was a finalist for the Edgar Award.
Before Becky Masterman took up writing, she was an acquisitions editor for a press specializing in medical textbooks. As a child, Beck Masterman showed a keen interest in the arts, at one point auditioning for a part in a Wizard of Oz children’s play (where she played the small part of Auntie Em).
Beyond merely acting, of which she actually did a lot, Becky also dabbled as a director, this along with writing for Children’s theater. She would eventually try her hand at writing adult plays.
Becky believes that her theater experience had a notable impact on her writing. Before Becky crafts a scene, she lays the groundwork by imagining the characters talking to each other. This gives her a platform from which to build the meat of each scene, and this approach manifested during her days writing plays.
Becky Masterman’s passion for the arts was such that she eventually graduated with a degree in creative writing from Florida Atlantic University; not that success came any easier even with Becky’s advanced certification.
The novelist tried her hand at writing fairly early on, producing six novels that didn’t really go anywhere. Eventually, she took a job as a forensic science acquisitions editor. The press she worked for specialized in medical books for forensic examiners and law enforcement.
And through her work, Becky Masterman came to encounter and publish many famous people within this particular field.
Becky married Frederick J. Masterman, a Reverend, just three months before they moved to Arizona and he retired from the Episcopal Priesthood. Her foray into the literary arena as a novelist was born partially out of all the time her husband suddenly had on his hands, having retired even as Becky’s schedule grew busier.
Becky challenged her husband to produce a novel in four weeks. To his credit, Frederick met the challenge head on, crafting a story about a plant that could invade people’s brains, causing them to succumb to their basest desires.
Because of her work on the fringes of law enforcement, Becky Masterman decided to go the mystery route, presuming that, as a novelist with many friends in the FBI (and Scotland Yard), the task wouldn’t present much of a challenge.
She was wrong. Becky found her husband’s writing capabilities especially intimidating, Frederick churning out a few thousand words for a book at least twice the length of her own.
Sufficing to say, he won their race, Becky taking six weeks to write her story instead of the four they had agreed upon.
One Tough Broad, the book Becky wrote, followed an FBI agent called Brigid Quinn, a woman who retires, gets married and tries to fit into civilian life. Becky Masterman fell in love with this big-hearted, vibrant yet sad and angry character she had created. However, when she reached out to her agent with her story, she received a rejection, the agent telling her that there was no interest in women in literature older than 30.
Some years later, Becky gave publishing another go, certain that the world had changed drastically enough to accept Brigid Quinn. Helen Heller, the literary agent she spoke to, was pretty positive, encouraging Becky to perfect her manuscript.
After several rewrites, One Tough Broad became Rage Against the Dying, Becky Masterman’s debut novel.
+Rage Against the Dying
Brigid Quinn was quite the FBI agent in her hey-day, not only effective at catching serial killers but often becoming the prize they sought. But that was back when her small, blond, vulnerable stature made her perfect bait for catching killers.
As she got older, Quinn so fit to seek out and train a protégée that could replace her. And she succeeded, crafting a 22-year-old field agent in her image, doing so effective a job that the Route 66 Killer not only took the bait but killed it too.
With the agent’s death weighing on her conscious, Quinn has spent years trying to move on. And she is succeeding until a knock on the door ends her life as the perfect Stepford Wife.
The discovery of the young girl’s body pulls Quinn back into the case and onto the trail of a nefarious killer that compels her to question everything she thought she knew.
It is hard to believe that Rage Against the Dying is the first book Becky Masterman has written; the novel is that good. Becky succeeds where many writers have failed, creating a strong female character that you can believe and whose strength organically oozes from the page.
The mystery shines through, complemented by smart dialogue, elements of humor and flawed characters. Everything about this book shows the insight that Becky Masterman has into the world of law enforcement and forensics.
+Fear the Darkness
Ex-FBI Agent Brigid Quinn has spent many a year chasing evil through dark shadows. Now she is determined to put it all behind her, swapping murderers and stakeouts for a husband.
As such, she is a little hesitant to step forward when the local community asks her to help comfort the family of the teenage victim of a drowning accident. In reaching out to the family, Quinn is confronted with a mystery.
Back home, Quinn struggles to contend with Gemma-Kate, her niece whom she reluctantly took in after a bereavement in the family. Gemma-Kate’s disturbing interest in dissecting the local wildlife leaves Quinn suspicious.
No matter where she goes or turns, Quinn cannot seem to escape death. And as she starts to question her own mortality, Quinn determines to discover the truth behind a series of allegedly accidental deaths.
With a debut novel as amazing as ‘Rage Against the Dying’, no one expected much from the sequel. Authors that blow readers away with debut novels rarely maintain the quality in the sequels.
However, Becky Masterman exceeds expectations with ‘Fear the Darkness’, a novel within which Brigid Quinn, the hero of the novel, struggles to escape the darkness of her past as an FBI agent only to realize that she might have brought the darkness into her home.
The novel attacks Quinn’s life from many fronts, giving her a series of potential murders to investigate even as her home life begins to crumble. There are a lot of decent shocks in this book which explores death and mortality without growing too dark and depressing.
In Becky Masterman’s ‘former life’, she worked as an acquisitions editor for a company who specialized in producing medical textbooks for use by forensic examiners and those in law enforcement. After receiving an M.A. in creative writing gained at Florida Atlantic University, she literally switched to the ‘other side of the fence’ to become recognized for her own writing skills.
Her debut thriller, Rage Against The Dying, received wonderful feedback and was in the running for several awards, including: an Edgar Award, given for’Best First Novel’; a CWA Gold Dagger Award for ‘Best Crime Novel’, and the Macavity, Barry and Anthony awards – an impressive list for a ‘first-timer’.
Prior to that
She had already been writing for 20 years, beginning when she was in marketing. Her daughter,Rebecca, who was 12 years old at the time, got her interested in children’s theater and she got a small part playing Aunty Em in The Wizard Of Oz, along with Rebecca. After that, she acted a little more, and then started directing, before moving on to writing for children’s theater.Adult plays were to be the next direction her writing was to take and she says that due to the way in which theater works and the fact that actors relate to each other using the medium of speech, that it had a huge influence on the way in which she startedcrafting her novel-writing scenes. She would think to herself as to how the characters would talk to each other and transfer that into the written medium.
She received her degree in creative writing and then wrote six novels, becoming slightly disheartened when nothing sold. This was what prompted her to take that job as a science acquisitions editor. During that time she got to meet (and had a hand in publishing,) a number of famous people working within that profession.
She then married Reverend Frederick J. Masterman, moving with him to Arizona just three months after their wedding. Her husband had just taken retirement from the Episcopal priesthood and Becky was still working full time.
Then during the November of that year she noticed ‘National Novel Writing Month’ and decided it would be fun to challenge her husband to a contest, to write a book in just one month. He wrote about a plant in Belize and Becky decided to write a suspenseful mystery, figuring that it wouldn’t be that difficult. The way she saw it, she was a literary novelist who knew people in both the FBI and the Police Force in Scotland Yard; surely that would give her enough to go on?
However, it was much more difficult than she had ever thought. Her husband won the race by managing to churn out an impressive 3-4 thousand word per day and the sound of his fingers flying across the keyboard drove her to work harder and faster. It took Becky six weeks, rather than the 4 agreed upon and at the end of that time, her book was only half the length of her husband’s. This book turned out to be the earliest story about Brigid Quinn, who Becky termed ‘One Tough Broad’. Brigid was an FBI special agent, about toretire and finally get married. Her life was a mixture of making friends, owning her beloved Pug dogs, and desperately attempting to fit into a world of civilians.Her main priority was to try and stop the book club she was involved with from discovering that she had the ability to kill single-handedly.
Having the gift to make a character come to life in a vibrant and enthralling way meant that Becky herself almost thought of Brigid as a separate, and real, character who was vibrant and had a massive heart. Brigid’s characteristics were complicated to say the least; she could be angry and sad at the same time, so wise in many ways and yet stuck when it came to cooking dinner.
Becky recalls that it was wonderful to imagine a physically powerful woman with the ability to fight an attacker, as she herself suffered frompost-polio syndrome, which had left her with a limp. So excited was she at the way in which Brigid was coming to life, that she sent an inquiry to an agent whose response was to state that “Nobody is interested in a woman older than thirty.”
Fast forward a few years to a time when older women were becoming far more in vogue, and so Becky tried again to become published and was thrilled when literary agent Helen Heller called, saying that she had been looking for a character like Brigid for years.
Many rewrites followed before Rage Against The Dying became the book it is now, but Becky says that no matter what parts or sections she has rewritten, that Brigid’s character will never be changed – she wants her to continue to rage against many things, including wicked people, the fact that innocents continue to be killed, the unending grief of people who loved them, and least of all, her own mortality.
Becky continued the story of Brigid in the next book, ‘Fear The Darkness’. Brigidthinks that she may have a second chance at what’s deemed to be a ‘normal’ life. She’s now retired from the Feds and is still trying to discover just what normal should feel like after swapping serial killers and a life of interrogating those who she thinks are liars, to that whichmost people have – a husband, good friends and some precious free time. The community Brigid lives in think that she may be able to help give comfort to a family after a teenager tragically drowns. However, when she tries, she quickly feels that something’s not right, and things just don’t add up. Her home life isn’t any easier either, there’s been a death in her own family and Brigid felt compelled to give a home to her niece before she started college. Brigid’s husband Carlo urges her to go easy on a grieving youngster which she strives to do, until the girl bizarrely begins todissect local wildlife. Brigid starts to feel as though death is still all around her and she in turn begins to feel unwell, dwelling too much on her own mortality. She tries to find out what’s been happening when there’s a series of supposedly accidental local deaths and then starts to realize that the darkness she thought she had left behind is now inveigling its way into the only place she feels safe.Book Series In Order » Authors » Becky Masterman