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Publication Order of Riley Fisher Books

The Fields (2022)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Erin Young

Erin Young is a new name in the literary world but she is far from an inexperienced author. Erin Young is the pen-name for Robyn Young, author of many internationally published historical novels. She and the novels have been widely and highly praised, having been published in twenty-two countries and nineteen languages. Ms. Robyn Young has sold over two million books worldwide.

The Fields is Ms. Erin Young’s first mystery thriller. Like many good mysteries, it starts with the discovery of a body. On a family farm in the middle of Iowa, a young woman’s body is found in a cornfield on one of the few operating family farms in Iowa competing with the giants of Big Agriculture.

Sergeant Riley Fisher is the newly promoted head investigator for Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office. When she arrives at the scene, the horrific crime becomes even more even more heartbreaking when she realizes the dead woman is a friend from her childhood. More distressing is the fact the woman is part of the dark past Riley was sure she had left behind.

As more victims are found, the mystery becomes deeper, and Riley realizes these deaths have implications that reach far away from this little Iowa town.

Ms. Young did an interview with an Iowa journal about writing this story which is a major departure from her usual historical novels. In explaining what inspired her to set her first mystery novel in Iowa, she shared how she read an article in a British newspaper discussing the dangers and issues created by Big Agriculture in corn production. The information in that article struck her as so disturbing, she started thinking it would make an excellent story.

She began by looking up who is the world’s biggest corn producer and found it’s in the United States. Then she researched the state where the most corn is produced and saw it is Iowa. That information become the seed for the start of the story.

In 2018 she approached her UK publishers about writing a book other than the historical novels she was known for. She pitched an idea for a contemporary mystery thriller. Her publisher was highly supportive and came right on board with her idea. A few weeks later she was on a plane, heading for the midwest United States, aiming for Iowa.

She picked an excellent time to explore bucolic Iowa. Landing in Des Moines in a thunderstorm that turned into a Superstorm, she got a quick taste of the volatile weather of the midwest. Her first stop was the State Fair, an institution of Iowa since 1854. Going to the fair first was helpful because of the exposure to the people, drink and food culture.

The people she met were unfailingly friendly- exhibiting the famous Midwest Charm. They, in turn, were entranced by her English accent which drew folks to her; she become acquainted with a wide range of people. She met farmers, cops, vendors, and citizens, all pleasant and willing to share the detail of their lives with her.

The Fields is peppered with little stories from the conversations. While in a beer tent, eating her first ever corndog, she met a young couple who were raising prize-winning pigs who worked other jobs to make ends meet, including the woman who was working for PayPal. All the people she talked to had great pride in their farms and businesses. There was such commitment, pride and passion in their lives.

She left Des Moines and rented a bike to explore the countryside. She traveled to Black Hawk County using roads straight as an arrow, rolling past soft hills and undulating fields of green corn. She chose to set her story in the towns of Cedar Falls and Waterloo. It was amusing how she described the incessant noise of the cicadas as “a wall of noise.”

She enjoyed Cedar Falls, a small university town, exploring the taprooms and restaurants. Waterloo is a former industrial city with a declining population, that was seriously affected by the agricultural recession of the 1980’s.

As she toured the hills and fields she found inspirations for Sergeant Fisher’s house, an old Victorian property, crumbling at the edge of a creek. Ms. Young was fully exposed to the Iowa summer weather with sapping heat, hovering over 100 degrees, high humidity, and was frequently overcast.

A chance encounter became the inspiration for a change in the plot direction. Her last stop scheduled in Iowa was to visit a traditional old-style farmhouse with a big red barn. The property was being run as a guesthouse. On that day the weather reports were full of tornado warnings and the sky was turning more ominous by the minute.

The owner wasn’t about the property and she was greeted two furiously barking dogs in the windows. She called the owner and he told her not to worry about the dogs, to go ahead into the house (with the door being unlocked) and don’t worry about the dogs. With great trepidation she walked in and the dogs barreled towards her- to lick her hands.

The owner took her to a gathering of the city council and she was given a crash-course in local politics at the pizza place. Discussion of dirty tricks by local Big Ag to suppress local wages and the impending arrival of a delegation of Chinese businessmen created a lively and animated meeting with the mayor and city leaders. This meeting gave her the key that unlocked the story for the novel.

Ms.Young grew up in Devon in a small fishing village. The dramas of the small-town rural villages are a constant inspiration for her writing. She was named one of Waterstones twenty-five authors of the future, judged in 2007 by a panel of nominating industry insiders. They were asked who they thought would provide the most consequential body of work over the next twenty-five years.

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