Vicki Lane has lived on a mountain farm in Madison County, NC since 1975. A descendant of pioneer Floridians and Alabama farmers, Vicki was raised in Tampa, Florida, and graduated from the University of Florida (where she took one creative writing class and wrote one truly awful short story – “Too Late the Snow.”) Early dreams of becoming a poet had been dashed when the New Yorker rejected her first submission. In 1963 she married her high school sweetheart and went on to teach English at a Tampa prep school and to get a M.A. in English Lit. – no short stories were written, only one mock-epic for a class on Pope.
Then, in 1975, seduced by The Whole Earth Catalog and Mother Earth News, Vicki, her husband, two dogs, and their three-year-old son moved to a mountain farm where they learned from their neighbors how to milk cows, butcher pigs, plow with mules, and raise tobacco. In 2000, still on the same farm with the same husband, one more son, and many more dogs, Vicki remembered that she was an English major and decided to try her hand at a mystery novel. She signed up for a brief class (Writing Fiction That Sells!) at a local community college, only to be told by the instructor that she didn’t have the passion it took to write a novel. Vicki’s first novel, Signs in the Blood, was published by a major New York house. The same house published the next five Elizabeth Goodweather mysteries.
Vicki’s work has been praised for authentic dialogue, evocative detail, and rich, clear, intelligent writing that captures the essence of the Carolina mountains and their people. Her third book, Old Wounds, was a Book Sense Notable and a nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Book Award for Fiction, while the fourth, In a Dark Season, hit the SIBA bestseller list on the week of its release and was a Romantic Times nominee for Best Contemporary Suspense/Mystery of 2008, and an Anthony nominee for Best Paperback Original.
But at some point, Vicki tired of the amateur sleuth mystery genre and became captivated by a local story. She says: “The Shelton Laurel Massacre of 1863 took place in the NC county I’ve called home for years. I’d read about the massacre, in which Confederate troops tortured women and rounded up and shot men and boys suspected of supporting the Union. I’d heard that the people of Shelton Laurel still remembered whose families had been involved in this long past event and on which side they had fought. And that it still mattered. At least once a week I passed by the house of Col. Lawrence Allen, the commanding officer on that cold day back in 1863. Eventually I felt compelled to write a novel about the massacre, sticking to the facts as far as possible. I did some reading which only left me totally confused as to what really happened in 1863. Primary sources were contradictory and often improbable. I simply couldn’t get a handle on this story, couldn’t find a way to tell it.
“ Then, I realized that, in delving into the past, I was dealing with a multiplicity of unreliable narrators – that device beloved of mystery writers wherein the narrator does not give the whole truth but only the truth as he understands it or as he wishes it to be understood. And that’s when I knew how I wanted to tell this story. I’m delighted that Regal House will be publishing it.”
Vicki teaches with the Great Smokies Writing Program (UNC-Asheville) and leads writing workshops at Wildacres and other venues. For many years she has maintained an almost daily blog (vickilanemysteries.blogspot.com), as well as an author page (Vicki Lane Mysteries) and a personal page on Facebook where she is happy to meet new friends.