By Jenn Watt
As a journalist writing about financial issues, Rosemary McCracken reported on fraud and saw the impact a successful scam could have on ordinary people and their livelihoods.
In her 40-year career in which she reported for the Financial Post and Calgary Herald, McCracken paid close attention to the Bernie Madoffs of the world, imagining what it must feel like for the victims of financial crimes.
“It really boiled my blood,” McCracken said in an interview with the Minden Times last week.
When she decided to branch out into fiction writing, it followed that her protagonist, Pat Tierney, would be a financial planner with a Jessica Fletcher-like propensity for finding herself in situations involving financial crimes and murder.
“Pat, my character, she’s very concerned about this too, especially [for] the ordinary people who get ripped off. If you’ve got millions, maybe you can lose a few, but you know, if you’ve spent years paying off your mortgage, putting your kids through school, saving for your retirement, and then someone comes along [and steals your money], you’ve got nothing.”
McCracken’s first book, Safe Harbor, was published in 2012 and involved money laundering. The second, Black Water, involved a spyware scam; the third, Raven Lake, a cottage rental scam; and her most recent book, Uncharted Waters, involves real estate fraud.
Her second and third books were based in a location very similar to the Haliburton Highlands, and at the time she owned a cottage in Algonquin Highlands. Although she has since sold the cottage, the Toronto-based author still travels annually to the Haliburton Highlands. Most recently, she stayed at a cottage on Boshkung Lake for a month.
She’s a member of the Haliburton Highlands Writers’ and Editors’ Network, which she first connected with during the literary festival in Minden in 2012.
“[The area] is just so beautiful. It’s a place you want to be if you’re writing something or making something. Look at all the wonderful artists that there are [in the Highlands],” she said.
Navigating the complicated nature of financial crimes, preserving the drama while skirting the cumbersome details, is something McCracken said she’s become adept at through her writing.
Her books have been called “financial thrillers,” she said, “but they’re very on the low-key side. There are some financial thriller writers who have been stockbrokers on Wall Street, bond traders, … and they really get into it and I am bored stiff myself.”
To ensure she keeps her readers engaged, she focuses on the important details.
“I want the books to appeal to everybody. So we know money is missing, or we know there’s a scam to take money out of your home, but we don’t have to know all the nitty gritty about how it’s done,” she said.
And of course, greed can lead to murder, McCracken points out.
“It can lead to lying, all sorts of corruption, but it also … if someone’s greedy enough they’ll murder you. So there’s always a murder in the books.”
In Uncharted Waters, Pat Tierney has left cottage country and is in Toronto, where she buys a small financial planning practice. Unfortunately, the business’s vendor is found murdered and Tierney searches for his killer to clear her name.
The book is available for purchase at Amazon.ca. Read more on Rosemary McCracken at rosemarymccracken.com.