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Author Q&A ft CeeRee Fields | Gravedigger Book Tour | Silver Dagger Tours Presents Romantic Suspense

Author CeeRee Fields tells all today at Readeropolis! Her book, Gravedigger ( The Rayburn Mysteries Book 1) , is on virtual book tour. The ...

Author CeeRee Fields tells all today at Readeropolis! Her book, Gravedigger (The Rayburn Mysteries Book 1), is on virtual book tour. The romantic suspense stops at the blog with an author interview.

Be sure to enter for a chance to win the giveaway for a $10 Amazon GC (4 winners) and follow the Silver Dagger book tour (for other dates see the link at the bottom of the post).

What inspired you to write this book?

Gravedigger was an interesting book with offbeat characters. I was actually researching a serial killer based out of California for a different series I'm working on when an odd link popped up in my Google search. I love those kinds of random happenstances as it always leads to adventure, so I clicked it and it opened into an article from a British paper talking about 'the Mad Russian'.  After reading this then digging deeper into the entire series of events, my imagination went into overdrive as I'd been toying with Josephine and Rhysian's story, but could never find a good villain to start the series off with... this was the one.

Gravedigger isn't like the other baddies in that he doesn't bury people alive. I liked the concept of him being a modern day grave robber, so that's how I set it up. I took a small piece of the Mad Russian in terms of him digging up the graves, but that's as far as it goes. My gravedigger has a history for why he's doing this and instead of keeping the bodies, he returns them with little to no forensic evidence. It's as if he's wrapped the victims in plastic kept them for a week and brings them back to the cemetery he took them from.

This is the link to the Mad Russian, there are more, but this gives you a general overview ~

There were several moving pieces to the story as I wanted the characters based in Birmingham, Alabama. So, I needed to know the cemeteries. You asked about my literary pilgrimage above, well I guess you could say this ties into that as when I was a teenager my friends and I would cemetery hop looking for ghosts. It was something to do on Halloween. It never frightened me as my great grandfather used to live in a cemetery as a caretaker, Oak Hill, and even now they have Halloween events in the cemetery. I wanted to include Elmwood Cemetery for sure in the book as it's historic and holds one of the most famous SEC coaches in Alabama history as well as one still celebrated today, Bear Bryant. Alabama fans still come by his grave and pay their respects, leaving flowers or mementos.

My favorite picture is of Oak Hill cemetery overlooking the Birmingham city skyline. They have historic tours and it fills me with pride to know my great grandfather not only helped care for this place, but is now buried there. As if he's still looking after it even now.

Elmwood Cemetery is very well protected and it isn't possible to get into at night, so I took a bit of creative license when I included it in the story.

What can we expect from you in the future?

More action and adventure. It's what I enjoy, so it's what I write. I've got another book set to release in November for my futuristic series and am editing the sequel to Josephine and Rhysian's story at the moment the title is Skinned and they become engaged in this story as Josephine is chasing a killer linked to her past as well as uncovering the mole within their department. Then the third is next up for the editing block and the working title is Slenderman, this story will have Josephine pairing up with her half-sister Karma and Interpol as she and Rhys try to plan their wedding. Of course, Jospehine's colors of choice are the colors of her guns which sets her mother in a tailspin, so Rhys has to step in and smooth things out before Jo puts her foot down and they elope.

Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?

I'm working on a few blog stories that I want to do with the characters. Especially, Josephine as she always gets into trouble when Rhys isn't around.

I've also got a spin-off series I've been working on which will feature Josephine's half-sisters Karma, Jenna and Juliette.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Gravedigger?

I can talk to... I mean about my characters all day.

Josephine 'Jo' Rayburn is a homicide detective, it's all she's ever wanted to be when she was growing up. Her adopted father, Carl Rayburn, is who she calls Dad and in my story he was the Chief of Moody Police. So from an early age she's learned to be a cop, the majority of the Rayburns are in branches of law enforcement from the Sheriff's Department to the various precincts around Alabama to County Deputies. And there are a lot of Rayburns which you'll see as the story progresses as well as through the next few books in the series. The Rayburn clan is a large tight-knit family.

Josephine has a lot of siblings, I mirrored this a bit with my family, but not completely. She has two older stepbrothers, from Carl's previous marriage, and a younger half-brother and sister which are Carl and Jo's mother, Maddy's biological children. All of her siblings, except the younger brother, has children which makes for large gatherings.

Again this is a mirror of my family as I have two older sisters and a younger brother and sister all with anywhere from 1-5 kids and as some of the older nieces and nephews are married with their own spouses and kids family holidays are a madhouse and a LOT of fun, at least for me to watch. It's like having my own television show with no commercials... And if my mom's siblings and their families come, or my stepdad's side of the family, then it's mass chaos. Which again is a lot of fun to watch quietly from a corner taking notes, especially listening to the various conversations which can be HILARIOUS.

What I added into Josephine's story was three additional half-sisters, Karma, Juliette and Jenna who grew up with Josephine's biological father. I don't have these, they're a figment of my imagination. I have a half-brother somewhere, but I've never met him. And as my father is no longer among the living, I can't ask for details.

I chose to add Karma, Juliette and Jenna because I wanted a group that were off-beat and they throw Josephine for a loop quite a bit. I don't want to give too much away about the three as I'm writing a spin-off series with them as main characters.

Rhysian 'Rhys' Harrison has a brother, Rian. Their parents died in a car accident and the two brothers are the last of their family. A reader won't be able to tell it completely, but Rhys and Rian are rich, the area they live in is one of the richest suburbs in Alabama and one of the second, or third, wealthiest in the South. Rhys doesn't reflect this except in the house they live in, as it's been in his family for a few generations, and a car his dad had bought. He doesn't do flashy clothes, though his clothing is well-made and he has a few tailored suits and leather shoes.

Rhys's brother Rian is mentally challenged, which I left a bit ambiguous in the beginning because Rhys would never think of his brother that way unless prodded. But Rian was involved in a hit-and-run while on his bike at the age twelve. Due to the impact and not being found right away, Rian had brain damage. This is the primary reason Rhys's ex-fiancée left him. Rhys fills Josephine in on their first date as she presses him for answers, she is a cop after all, so of course some of that comes out in her personality when she wants to know something. Sometimes it's over the top as she just keeps digging which makes for a tense date.

And just a FYI, Josephine is NOT based on me. She's actually based a little on a friend I had in high school who was snarky, snarly, and kicked rear end when it was needed. Don't worry, she knows who she is... =D

Where did you come up with the names in the story?

I can't tell you where I came up with Josephine's name as it's a reveal in the book. I can tell you she hates the name and her middle name is my mom's middle name. The story she tells Rhys about why her middle name is Lavette is the same story my grandmother told me when choosing my mom's name. Because the name sounds like Love-it when Josephine's family says it, she will never use her middle name, which is why she goes by Jo.

Rhysian's name came from my imagination. I wanted something sci-fi since his parents met at a Star Trek convention. I also, wanted Rian's name to be unique as well so I went with Lorian and turned it into Rian for short. I've been to several Star Trek conventions and even joined a starship club the USS Defiant. It was EPIC as I wanted to be ranked, so I had to study one of the division and I chose the Science one. So, I thought it was fitting to mix that a bit with Rhys's background.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

All of it. I like the interaction between the characters and how Jo can show her extreme annoyance with a raised eyebrow or an icy gaze that sends perps fleeing. I like how Rhys sees something in her that is warm and he draws it out of her. I think couples in love do that, they bring the best out in the other person and Rhys definitely does this for Jo.

Just as Jo teaches Rhys that he needs to live in the moment and trust that just because his ex-fiancée left because of Rian's disability Jo's family will accept them. And if given a chance, her family will help so Rhys can achieve his dream as well.

It was a balancing act as I wanted Rhys to be laid-back, but also have issues with the danger inherent in Josephine's job. He almost lost his brother when Rian was younger, then they lost their parents and his ex-fiancée bailed the second life got tough. So, he has issues with losing those he lets into his life and trusting they'll stay. But I also wanted him confident, so I tried to make him comfortable in his own skin when dealing with Josephine.

How did you come up with the title of your first novel?

My first novel or my first published work, or my first work with a publishing house?

My very first novel, I wrote it when I was seventeen, was called Onyx. It was never published, I don't even know where the printed version is as that was done on a wordprocessing typewriter (which is a nightmare trying to edit, but was way easier than a standard typewriter to write on. Lord, I'm showing my age... look away). I named the book after the main character.

My first published work I self-published as two publishing houses wanted me to totally change the book. One wanted to strip a lot of the adventure out and beef up the romance and the other wanted me to turn it into a YA. Neither worked for the characters, nor for the world they were in, so I went the self-pubbed route and it's called Birch's Faith. I used the female MC's name and Faith came from how far Birch needed to go to allow herself to trust in Zev again. I started out with the name Mist as that's what Zev ends up calling her as a unique nickname between them, but it felt confusing so I settled on Birch's Faith. This series, there are four now split between two series Woven Destinies and Scavenger's Bonded, is set in future America and was a lot of fun to write as I used a few landmarks to show the section of the states the groups live in.

My first work through a publishing house is Gravedigger. It's a present day romantic suspense based in Birmingham, Alabama. I came up with the name as it's what Josephine and her team refer to the bad guy as. It felt right and when I tossed it into my critique group they liked it as well. They thought it was unique as well as conveying a hint of danger while alerting the reader that it's probably going to have some cemetery action. My husband and I toyed with a few other names, but that's the one that stuck. I actually originally called the book Digger, since the bad guy dug the victims up and didn't bury them. But it morphed into Gravedigger.

Who designed your book covers?

For Gravedigger, I had an AWESOME designer. Her name is Fiona Jayde. She captured Josephine perfectly as well as what the book is about with the menacing trees, foggy cemetery and a great feel as if Jo's spotted her quarry her gun in her hand ready to be used if needed.

For my self-pubbed works. I did the covers myself and I think they look great, if I do say so myself. I've actually updated all of them to better fit the genre as well as the stories.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Yes, I didn't catch it. No one did until I received an email from one of the ladies reviewing my book. She pictured the cemeteries small as if the police were within shouting distance of each other.

That's not the case, and I should've caught that. These cemeteries are MASSIVE. Elmwood is 482-acres which is 1.67 kilometers, or 1 mile. The other cemetery where the story opens, the cemetery I used to help me navigate that area, is maybe a quarter to half the size of Elmwood, give or take, there's nothing on the internet that shows me the exact size of it. But there is an aerial map I used since the cemetery is in the middle of a heavily wooded area that surrounds it on three sides. So I took the idea of that cemetery, but changed it so it fit what I needed for my characters and story to work.

The other cemeteries around Birmingham are just as large, even Oak Hill is over 200 acres and it's within the city limits of Birmingham.

The Rayburn Mysteries Book 1
by Ceeree Fields
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Hunting a killer is easy. Learning to love is hard. 

Josephine 'Jo' Rayburn has no luck with love. Between the demands of her job as a homicide detective, finding the perfect yarn for her knitting projects, and her nosy family, she doesn't have time to find her happily ever after, nor does she really believe it exists. Until she's assigned to theGravedigger task force where she meets Rhysian 'Rhys' Harrison, the sexy Coroner's assistant.

Rhys Harrison thought he had found love with the perfect woman. But his parents' deaths forced him to choose between his fiancée and caring for his brother, he chose his brother. His only regret, the medical degree he abandoned to work in the Coroner's office. When the Gravedigger leaves his latest victim at the gates of a cemetery, Rhys and Jo are thrown together, her prickly personality interests him, but it's her deeply hidden romantic side that captivates him.

After one of the task force members is shot, Rhys's fears of losing Jo, like he's lost so much already, threaten to rip them apart. Can she convince him that love is worth having no matter the risk? Or will he play it safe, leaving before his heart becomes too attached?

CeeRee Fields currently lives in Groningen, the Netherlands with her husband and cat. Since she was born in Alabama and moved to the Netherlands, Dutch is not her first language which gets her into mischief in various stores around town when she tries to speak it.

She loves writing, building worlds that her characters can explore and break if they feel the need.

Action, adventure and love are her favorite things. And when stuff gets blown up who says the guy is the only one who gets to do it?

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!


  1. Love the cover and the storyline is interesting to me. Good luck with the novel.

    1. Thank you so much, Debra.

      I enjoyed writing it.


  2. Thank you so much for having me on your blog!



Get carried away with love!