Discussion questions about each of my novels have been developed from my experience leading various book clubs, book chats, and invited readings. I welcome feedback on these materials and look forward to hearing your responses to my work.
Crime Fiction as Social Commentary:
Select from the following questions to use for your book discussion:
Book Club Discussion Questions for Forsaken Trust
Forsaken Trust Discussion Questions
- Ohio has been referred to as the heart of the opioid epidemic. NBC discusses Montgomery County, where the author resides, as the “the over-dose capitol of America” and references it as a “mass casualty event.” While much of Forsaken Trust takes place in the fictitious town of Wallace Lake, addiction(s) and the issues that surround it in Ohio are represented through different points of view. How did the novel help you to consider these complicated issues from an angle that you might not have thought of before? Why do you think Ohio is at the heart of the opioid crisis and does the novel offer insight into the problem?
- Many characters in the novel struggle with addiction(s). Which characters earned your sympathy and which didn’t? Why? How would you characterize Luce Hansen’s relationship with alcohol over the course of the novel and how does it add to the novel’s conversation about addition(s)?
- Throughout Forsaken Trust, different types of mother/daughter relationships are represented. What are some of these mother/daughter relationships and why do you think it plays such a significant role in the novel?
- Luce Hansen and Colby Sanders have a tense, and, at times, difficult relationship. Do you think Luce’s feelings toward her boss are justified regarding their previous case and the lack of her job promotion? Why or why not?
- How do the themes of betrayal and loyalty function together in the novel?
- How does Ava Washington’s portrayal and experiences in the novel mirror the lives of the women found in the barn? In what ways are these instances similar? How are they different?
- Luce struggles throughout the book with the concept of justice. How would you define Luce’s ideas of justice at the beginning of the novel? In what ways is she disappointed in justice inside law enforcement and outside of it? How does she see justice working (or not working) outside of her career? By the close of the novel, do you think Luce has come to terms with her ideas about justice?
- Luce particularly struggles with the way justice is dealt in the cases of Sadie Reid and Albert Finley. The Ohio laws are clear, particularly in regards to Sadie’s charges. Why is Luce so conflicted with these two characters and their charges at the end of the novel? Do you think Sadie and Albert were treated fairly by the justice system? Why or why not?
- What role does water play in Forsaken Trust? How does it work as a centering point for Luce Hansen? In what ways does water help her? Are there instances where water works against her?
Questions also available via PDF.
Book Club Discussion Questions for Crossed
Crossed Discussion Questions
- What did you know about ex-gay ministries and conversion therapy before reading Crossed? How did the novel expand your understanding or alter your views on these LGBTQ issues?
- Luce Hansen makes her thoughts and feelings on her own involvement with the ex-gay ministry The One True Path clear in throughout novel. What do you think her father’s thoughts and feelings are on One True Path? What does he say or what does he do to make these sentiments known?
- Eli Weaver offers Luce Hansen a view of an ex-gay survivor. He is established in his career as a Religious Studies professor and has a loving family. How does this character symbolize hope for Luce? Do you think that she will ever accept his invitation to attend the ex-ex-gay support meetings? Why or why not?
- This novel features many examples of how a person’s past is always present. Luce is depicted as a character that is “stuck” because of the events that took place in Willow’s Ridge. How does Luce “unstick” herself throughout the novel? Do you think Luce has finally made peace with the events that happened in Willow’s Ridge when she was fifteen years old? Why?
- How does the setting of the novel, particularly the cold wintry weather and the quarry, work as characters? In what ways does the cold mirror the case(s) Luce is working on?
- Luce has had no contact with her mother since she left for Hollywood when Luce was three. Her father never remarried or had any long-term relationships. What effects, if any, has the lack of female role models in Luce’s past played into her current life situation and her relationship with Rowan?
- What is the role of Luce’s father in her career? Why do you think he only is able to converse with her about crimes and law enforcement issues? Does Luce’s reliance on her father’s input weaken her as a special agent or make her stronger? Why?
- Historically, LGBTQ individuals have been the victims of violent attacks and the focus of some serial killers. How does Luce’s knowledge of past cases help her to solve the serial murders in Willow’s Ridge? Do you think Luce’s sexuality helps her to solve the crimes? Why or why not?
- In what ways do violence and art—two seemingly unrelated things—connect in the novel?
- What role does water play in the novel? In what ways does water help Luce? Are there instances where it hurts her?
Questions also available via PDF.