Thursday, August 20, 2015

Say hello to: M. L. Rowland!

My guest today is author M. L. Rowland (no relation to JK!)

Born, raised and, except for one year of high school in Hawaii, schooled kindergarten through college in Michigan, Rowland comes by her adventurous spirit honestly. Her mother was Grand Rapids, Michigan’s first woman city commissioner. Her father—a neurosurgeon and marine scientist—was a world traveler and member of The Explorer’s Club. After college, Rowland lived and worked in Florida, Missouri, Connecticut and New York City, finally settling in the mountains of southern California where she and her husband, Mark, joined the local Search and Rescue (SAR) team.

During her twelve years on Search and Rescue, Rowland participated in hundreds of search and rescue missions and trainings, including technical ropes rescues, helicopter insertions and evacuations, and searches for lost children, hikers, snowboarders, mountain bikers and criminal evidence, in alpine, desert and urban environments. She served as the team’s Training Officer and participated in community events and public speaking engagements. Trained in land navigation, and desert and winter survival, including avalanche awareness and self-arrest, she holds a certification in tracking from the State of California. Much of what she writes about in her Gracie Kinkaid Search and Rescue Mystery Series is drawn from her and her husband’s SAR experiences.

Rowland also served on the Board of a Colorado County Sheriff’s Department All-Hazards Incident Management Team (IMT) which manages local search and rescue operations, brush and wildfires, planned community events and other critical incidents.

Rowland is an avid political activist, naturalist and environmentalist. She’s an accomplished painter and loves to snorkel. She has traveled to all fifty United States and throughout the world, including Kenya, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Europe. As often as possible, she hikes and explores the slot canyons of Utah.


Rowland lives with her family at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in south-central Colorado.


R:  Welcome, M. L.! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.

Wanting to write books wasn’t a lightning bolt that hit me one day out of the blue; it was more of an evolutionary process that began when I was very small.

Books have always been a huge part of my life—I’ve never lived in a house that wasn’t filled with books. One of my earliest memories is sitting on my father’s lap while he read to me. As a result, I became a reader at a very young age.

My oldest sister used to write and illustrate stories in pencil in those small brown, spiral notebooks. I think she was the original inspiration for me to become a writer. While in grade school, I wrote a couple of stories of my own, emulating her. Then here and there throughout the years, I took a few writing classes, most significantly, an imagery poetry class that has proven to be very influential to my current writing style. I wrote some non-fiction pieces and several screenplays. But only within the last years, have I been writing novels.

R: You were a search and rescue volunteer yourself. What was that like, and was that the basis for your “Search and Rescue series?”

I served for almost a dozen years as a very active volunteer on a very busy search and rescue team in the mountains of southern California. I participated in literally hundreds of missions and trainings, which included helicopter extractions and insertions (most memorably jumping out of a helicopter into the snow on the side of a mountain), overnighting in the snow with only a sleeping bag, and technical ropes rescues and recoveries. It was physically taxing, often exhausting and thankless work, but incredibly rewarding emotionally.

When I decided to try my hand at writing a novel, I followed the classic advice of writing what you know. And voila! The Gracie Kinkaid Search and Rescue mystery series was born.

R: Tell us about your latest release, Murder on the Horizon.

Readers of “Murder on the Horizon,” the third book in my Search and Rescue series, will find the book’s multiple plotlines eerily reminiscent of recent news headlines. At the beginning, the hot, dry Santa Ana winds are blowing. But more than just the threat of wildfire endangers the tiny mountain community of Timber Creek...

Gracie Kinkaid and her Search and Rescue teammates are searching along the interstate highway in the middle of the blisteringly hot Mojave Desert when they make a grisly discovery—a trash bag containing human body parts. Not long after, Gracie's growing friendship with a ten-year-old runaway draws her into the secretive, hate-filled world of the boy's family—a group of gun-toting extremists.

As a wildfire threatens to roar into Timber Creek, Gracie finds herself caught up in an explosive plot that, unless she stops it, will destroy countless innocent lives.

R: do people ever mistake you for that other Rowland, JK?

It’s JK RowLING and I, unfortunately, am only a RowLAND. J


R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to

share? How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?

It boils down to my knowing somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody. I was introduced by friends to their screenwriting manager who knew and introduced me to an editor at Penguin. She agreed to read, “Zero-Degree Murder,” loved it and offered me a three-book contract. I believe that one of the reasons I--as an total unknown--was offered a contract by a major publisher was that I had rewritten “Zero-Degree Murder” over ten times, and edited and proofed it multiple times and had other people critique and proof it, so that, once it made its way to a publisher, it needed very little further work.

When I first was offered the contract with Penguin, my husband and I were owners of a campground on a river in Colorado and in the throes of the busy summer season. When I told my husband about the offer, he gave me a hug and said, Congratulations!” Then I went back to managing the campground.

R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?

Peace and quiet, in other words no distractions. We live a quarter mile off a dirt road in rural Colorado, so I’m so used to it being very quiet while I’m working.

Really caring about something aids the creative process for me—being passionate about a social issue. All of my books have a multiple themes. Reading a book or magazine article, watching a movie, hearing a piece of music, even people watching at the airport all can get the creative juices flowing.

R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?

That at times I can be somewhat shy and quiet!


R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done? 

When on Search and Rescue, I did a lot of things other people might consider crazy, but those were what I would call ‘managed risks.’

One of the most purposefully crazy things I’ve ever done was when I was fourteen years old and spending the summer with my family on the island of American Samoa in the middle of the South Pacific.

At that time, there was only one runway at Pago Pago’s airport, and only one Pan Am jet a day leaving the 1 am. The jet would taxi down the runway, turn at the end, then accelerate back up the runway for take-off.

One night I and several older teenagers, hid in the dark behind some bushes lining the runway. The jet taxied past us. As it made its turn at the end, we ran up and lay face down half-on/half-off the runway with our hands covering our ears. As the jet zoomed back, accelerating for takeoff, its wing passed right over us, blasting us with hot air and stones and a LOT of noise. Quite a rush! Don’t tell my parents. 

R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?

First, I hope they enjoyed the book! Second, I hope they learned something--something about themselves, about Search and Rescue, about nature, about a social issue. I’d also love to think people might be inspired by my books, inspired to be strong or maybe just a little stronger, to try something they never imagined they were capable of, to stand up for themselves or someone else or something they feel strongly about, to do what they believe is the right thing in spite of being afraid.

R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?

My website: contains information about my books, a short bio, some kind of neat photos (at least I think so), my blog and some other hopefully fun and interesting information.

R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

If you’re serious about getting published, treat your writing as a job. Work at it every day. Write what you know or what you’re passionate about. Read—different genres as well as the genre in which you’re writing. Never stop learning. Take classes. Join a writers’ group. Read writing magazines and how-to books. Attend writers’ conferences. Remain open to other people’s suggestions and critiques. Most important, though, is to never give up.

R: What question do you wish interviewers would ask you? And what’s the answer?

I’ve answered a lot of interview questions and a lot of yours I had never been asked. Nice job!

Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  I love the night sky, but if I have to chose, then day

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) I like cats, but I’m allergic to them, so dogs (how diplomatic was that?).

Beach or Pool?  Beach

Steak or salad?  Both?

Favorite Drink? An ice-cold beer on a hot hot day

Favorite Book? So many to choose from: “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Les Miserables,” “The Book Thief.” Above all? Probably “The Lord of the Rings.”

Favorite TV Series?  Of all time, “West Wing.” Recently, “Justified.”

Favorite Movie? “Last of the Mohicans” is one of the most devastatingly beautiful and haunting movies I’ve ever seen. 

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be: Jesus. Regardless of your religious beliefs, what an awesome and inspiring teacher/leader/healer.

If I had just one wish, it would be to rid our planet of poverty, violence, hate and pollution.

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be?

I wouldn’t. I’m happy who I am and right where I am in Colorado.

Folks, you can find out more about M. L. at:

The most comprehensive site is my author’s Website: Also Facebook:  mlrowland and Twitter:  @ml_rowland.

M. L. will give away Two copies of “Murder on the Horizon.”  One each to two lucky commenters!

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:

* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/

* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Contest ends  midnight, Aug. 25!


  1. Hi, ML! I lived in Colorado for 11 years and loved it!
    My sons are both EMTs and one is a firefighter, who goes back out west every chance he gets....even if he has to get a gig fighting wildfires to do it!
    I am very interested in reading your series and I wish you all the best.
    I Follow on twitter
    I tweeted
    I am a FB Friend and
    I shared on FB
    I follow the blog

  2. Rocco, you find such interesting authors.
    We are FB friends and I've linked to there
    I visit regularly
    I don't tweet and I don't have a blog
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

  3. I really liked the first book.

    I follow this blog
    Follow on Twitter
    Sent friend request on FB

    kaye dot killgore at comcast dot net