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Carol Potenza Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Hearts of the Missing (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Author Carol Potenza was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry at New Mexico State University. She lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico with her husband. In their backyard, they have a wonderful, breathtaking view of the Organ Mountains.

Before she began teaching full-time, she conducted plant genetic engineering research, which she also conducted at New Mexico State University. Carol also worked at a drug-testing lab and briefly on the Jornada Experimental Range just north of town.

Her husband’s family has lived in New Mexico for many generations, but she only moved there in the year 1991 so she enjoys exploring the state. She has been to the spot that allows you to be in four states all at once. Carol has visited Chaco Canyon and El Morro. She has stood in the Lincoln County Courthouse, a place that Billy the Kid once escaped by killing two deputies.

She decided to write a novel as something to do after her children went into adulthood.

Originally, the name of the book was called “Spirit Heart”, which is the name of a piece of jewelry that plays a big role in the book. Her editor thought it was too much of a romance title, and wanted another. A character has a course project called “The Hearts of the Missing Still Beat”, a title she proposed and part of it became the title.

While writing the book, she did not come up with an idea or a theme and wrote around it. Instead, she just wrote something that combined the very things (science, supernatural, and mystery) that she enjoyed reading about. When she was half-way done, she realized it might just be a “Tony Hillerman” kind of book. While trying to figure out how to pitch the book, she came across the Tony Hillerman Prize.

The character of Nicky Matthews was inspired by her sister-in-law who works as a police officer on a Native American pueblo in the state of New Mexico. The stories she would tell about the traditions and culture of the people and the pueblo fascinated Carol. When Carol would ask about specific details about a ritual or a ceremony, she would tell her that she never asked as she didn’t feel it was her business. Carol decided to make her main character have the same kind of respect her sister-in-law has for the pueblo.

One thing she loves about Nicky is how she is totally dedicated to the people she is serving. In order to do her job, she has to walk right up to the edge of the culture and traditions of the pueblo, and stick a foot into their world. Nicky would never cross completely over because it would break a trust.

Many of the characters she writes come from the facets and shadows of the people she has met. Then she twists them into characters.

The book took her six months to write and another six months to edit. During this time, she sent it off to another publisher that asked for a full book, but rejected it. An editor at St. Martin’s Press suggested some edits, after it was picked, that made the story a million times better, Carol feels. Eighteen months went by from the time it was picked until it was finally published.

One of her edits includes removing a perspective of a character, who took up about thirty percent of the book. This is something that her crit group had been advising her to do, and it makes the book that much better.

When she is not writing, she enjoys visiting her family, spending time with her husband, and traveling for her research. This last usually involves moving around through northern and central New Mexico to visit different Native American pueblos and reservations.

As a reader, Carol likes to have multiple books going at the same time so that she is able to pick one that will match her mood at the time.

The books that influence her the most are the ones by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. She loves their twisted plots, their innovation, and the science that they are able to layer into their work. As well as the action and suspense that runs just like a train through every one of their stories. Carol also always learns a new vocabulary word while reading a book of theirs. In some way, she always wanted to write like they do.

The first job Carol Potenza ever had was working at Disneyland, where she sold lots and lots of hamburgers.

Her debut novel was released in the year 2018, and was called “Hearts of the Missing”. It won a Tony Hillerman Prize in the year 2017.

“Hearts of the Missing” is the first novel, which was released in the year 2018. A young woman that is connected to a list of missing Fire-Sky tribal members kills herself, and Nicky Matthews, a Pueblo Police Sergeant is assigned the case. The evidence sends her toward a shocking discovery, she discovers not just a murder, but motive with a vengeful and ominous twist that hits at the very core of what it means to be a member of the Fire-Sky People.

With an intimate knowledge of Fire-Sky traditions and customs, the murderer makes sure the spirits of the ones he targets will wander around lost forever. Nicky starts to close in on the killer, the ones closest to her are put in serious jeopardy. She realizes that she has to be willing to sacrifice all she has: her life, her career, and even her own soul so that she can save the people she has sworn to protect.

New Mexico is a wonderful setting for a mystery novel, and Carol Potenza puts its majestic landscape to some unexpected and thrilling use. The book is beautifully written with a richly drawn and diverse group of characters and a riveting plot. This plot keeps you involved and makes you want to keep on turning the pages to find out what will happen next.

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