Diane: What was your professional background?
Arleen: I began writing fiction later in life drawing on a diverse background. As an analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), I investigated and wrote about many topics including military satellite systems, healthcare reform, elder care, endangered species, postal service operations and crop biotechnology. My degree is in biology and I also worked as an insurance adjuster, fashion model, teacher, jewelry maker, and owner of a home décor boutique.
Diane: How did you start writing fiction?
Arleen: From my teens on I thought about being a novelist, but did not act on that desire until about seven years ago. Then I took the plunge into fiction writing and self-publishing using my life experiences, love of science, analytical and investigative background, interest in origins of life and religion, and love of travel. The books contain many descriptions of locations in South and Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Australia, and U.S. cities I have visited, supplemented by research.
Diane: Why did you start with a cruise ship setting for the first books?
Arleen: When I decided to try writing a novel my husband and I were taking cruise vacations, particularly around South America. I used that backdrop for the first and second books. My writing and the locations evolve along with the characters’ lives and adventures. My main purpose in writing is to entertain, but I love to read books—especially mysteries—with a basis in reality where I feel I am learning something new. It is a wonderful escape to read a book whose mystery and suspense grabs and holds the reader, and that is what I try to accomplish.
Diane: I've noticed you incorporate many current topics into your narratives. Tell us more.
Arleen: We are bombarded with so much bad news in the real world that it is interesting that so many people want to read more of it in fiction. I think that as communication, technology, and access to information become more complex, writers are challenged to write fiction at that same level, and maybe this in turn challenges readers to raise their level of understanding. I think my plots reveal my interest in topics like why people do good and bad deeds, the overall diversity among people, and the roles of genetics and environment. At a higher level, I’m interested in where our current personal, cultural, and political landscapes will lead us.
Diane: I'm interested in the "Currents" theme in the books. How did that come about?
Arleen: The word currents appears in all my titles. This reflects my series protagonist Darcy Farthing’s envisioned picture of how time and her life stream along on currents that interact with other people’s causing coincidence, cohesion, and sometimes chaos. The Latin root currere means to run, as currents run in a stream. In addition, we use the word to denote time fixed in the present—current events—distinguished from the past and future. The books employ both meanings. Through the stories, the nature & interaction of chance with a life plan, and the nature of coincidence are undercurrents, if you will, that Darcy comments on from time to time.
Diane: Describe your main character, Darcy Farthing. She reveals many secrets about her previous life that affect her relationships in the novels.
Arleen: Darcy is a positive but flawed character, who starts out with a dark secret that has interfered with her ability to form lasting relationships. She is a 40ish tall blond beauty with striking blue eyes and her physical fitness and appearance are extremely important to her. She is also very smart with a master’s degree in biochemistry and an acute interest in understanding the natural world. She thinks of herself as a humanist. In short, that is a person who rejects belief in the supernatural, cares foremost about all humanity and tries to live a fulfilling ethical and moral life, while caring for the planet and helping others whenever possible. She cares deeply about injustice, hates bigotry, and she and those closest to her struggle with her impulse to jump into the middle of dangerous situations.
Diane: Now that we understand the motivations behind the series, let's take a closer look at each book:
"You can truly believe you have a handle on how your little slice of life fits into the whole pie. But just when you think pepperoni is all you'll ever need, someone dumps a bunch of mushrooms and peppers on top, and suddenly a mind-blowing revelation smacks you in the mouth. My name is Darcy Farthing, and this is my slice-of-life-with-everything-on-it story."
The first novel narrated in part by the protagonist introduces the characters who meet on an ill-fated life altering cruise around Cape Horn, South America. Darcy Farthing interjects tidbits of history and geography along the way. At the time she boards the ship, her troubled past and poor early life decisions are undermining her relationships and happiness. The circumstances of the cruise quickly turn frightening when she is unwittingly drawn into a murder-for-hire plot. She not only contends with more mystery and violence than she could ever have imagined, but through a baffling set of shipboard crimes and seeming coincidences, she reunites with an estranged friend named Sidney Denezza, finds romance with Mick Clayton who is a GAO manager, and finds a missing piece of herself in Buenos Aires ( no spoilers here). She and her cohorts fall victim to a shipboard conspiracy and a killer who is quite mad. Darcy is forever changed by these events, putting into motion a series of personal and professional upheavals.
"To keep your sanity when it seems everything in your life has gone over-the-top crazy, you can step back from the action and try to gain an astronaut’s perspective of the world. But when you find yourself getting lost in the tranquility of that detached view, it’s time to dive into a current and get back in the flow."
Several manifestations of revenge infect a second cruise around South America and lead to more surprises, trauma, and murder with Las Vegas connections. Through multiple plots, the story further evolves the relationships that formed on the first cruise. It describes and magnifies the real-life issue of crime aboard cruise ships as the FBI and GAO investigate the frightening murder plot which they are sure involved both passengers and crew members. Darcy and Mick go back on the ship with Tom, the cruise ship’s chief of security who was fired by the cruise line. A saboteur and a rapist wreak havoc, Mick struggles with debilitating emotional symptoms, and once again Darcy and others narrowly escape the cruise with their lives. Ultimately, the investigation leads to the prosecution of a vicious killer who is a Las Vegas hotel owner, and an “art imitating life” GAO report to Congress with recommendations to enhance cruise passenger safety.
"Life throws a lot of curves, near misses, and too often direct hits. I believe I've had more than my share of the latter. Usually it takes only a minute for me to reject such a self-pitying notion. Still, it would be hard to imagine how more change—accompanied by trauma—could come about in such a relatively short time. Mystery and violence have been part of my reality for the past two and a half years. It used to seem like a fluke, but now I'm beginning to wonder if it's become a way of life."
Darcy has morphed herself into a writer and has published a brutally straightforward non-fiction account of the first cruise and is about to publish one about the second cruise, to the dismay of her friends and family who are tired of the publicity. Double trouble arrives when two unrelated incidents collide to complicate Darcy and Mick’s lives. They are staying in Mick’s home on Marco Island in Southwest Florida while the U.S. Marshals and GAO are investigating stolen government property originally seized from criminals. A local county corruption ring and middle-east terrorist wannabes are mysteriously intertwined as deputy sheriffs are killed and their friend, Tom, is arrested for attempted murder. They are all exposed to extreme danger from mysterious sources, while also contending with a personal family drama involving a surprise pregnancy with a troubling twist.
“Like a body of water when it smashes violently into a barrier, elements of our lives spill outside the boundaries and must naturally find alternate paths, thus forming new currents. Since it is impossible to recapture every bit of the original flow, some loss is inevitable. In life, the first casualties of such deviations from one's intended course are often those most elusive and fragile emotions—happiness and a feeling of well-being.”
This story tackles the topical subject of domestic partnerships and birth surrogacy. In Seattle, Darcy meets with violence, gains a deeper understanding of herself and human nature, and finds a new friend. It is the story of a child with too many parents, misguided decisions, and wild characters threatening to tear apart a loving family. Friends Don and Charlie who were heroes in the first book are in serious trouble. First Charlie then their seven year old daughter, Penelope, are abducted. When Darcy should be planning her wedding, she is instead thrown into the foreign world and legal issues surrounding surrogate births, and assisted reproductive technology. She again confronts bigotry and insanity in multiple forms. Her relationship with Mick is threatened when he realizes she cannot stay out of dangerous situations. Ultimately, she is almost killed when she conducts interviews with potential suspects of a double kidnapping and vicious murder.
“I visualize my life current and other people’s currents flowing along on parallel courses mostly unfelt, running deep below the surface, then suddenly colliding and causing all manner of change and adjustment. When my current collided with Mick’s, as often happens, I took on some of his overspill and he mine. We grew together in the sense of both maturation and closeness.”
This time Darcy and Mick along with family and friends meet on a cruise ship sailing around Australia. She has refashioned herself as a freelance investigative reporter. Amid her descriptions of sea ports and tidbits of history, an old threat they thought was neutralized is resurrected, and a biological twist adds some dark comic relief. An infestation of yellow crazy ants menaces passengers, and a food-borne pathogen seems to target a woman traveling with a small town Kansas class reunion group. Soon a murder on an Adelaide street and attempted murders on the ship turn very personal for Darcy, her family, and friends. As usual, several possible suspects emerge. Ultimately, they identify a master of disguise and world class computer hacker who has come on board to seek revenge related to a twenty-year-old crime.
“Over the past several years I’ve learned something about myself. It would be impossible to suffer through all that trauma and not figure out a few things. To my mind, the drastic jarring changes in direction our currents have taken could only be viewed as opportunities to embrace change—otherwise that sort of thing would destroy you.”
This will most likely be the final book of this series. The aftermath of the Australian cruise is destroying the contentment Darcy and Mick were enjoying. Family circumstances have left Mick in a strange depression. Darcy is still working as an investigative reporter and once again teams up with Tom to solve a mystery. They travel to Las Vegas to help Don and Charlie find Pammie, a teenager who is their daughter’s biological sister. The runaway is caught up in human trafficking and Asian gangs on the streets of downtown Las Vegas. Darcy worries about Mick’s state of mind as she tries to find Pammie while evading dangerous pimps and gang members. She stumbles onto a plot much closer to home that threatens her best friend, Sidney, and makes the shocking discovery that an old nemesis is still pulling dangerous strings in their lives.
Diane: Thank you for taking the time to participate on my blog, Arleen. Readers can find all the books in this fascinating series at the following links:
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/arleen+alleman?fs=11312&_requestid=208994
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Currents-Deep-and-Deadly/149011021789810