Wetumpka resident Debbie Herbert’s mystery novel “Cold Waters” spent two weeks on The Washington Post’s bestseller list, three weeks on Amazon Charts top sold and most read list during the same month and was selected as one of six books to be in Amazon Prime’s program in April.
Herbert’s novel is about a woman who once snuck out as a teenager and cannot remember the night the next day after her best friend went missing.
“When she goes home (years later) a lot of weird things start happening to her and she ends up solving the mystery of what happened that night,” Herbert said. “It’s all about family relationships.”
Herbert has previously written supernatural romance novels for Harlequin Enterprises and said she took a risk writing the story away from her publishing agency.
“I wasn’t sure if my agent would be able to sell to sell it or not but she did and it has sold better than any other book I’ve written,” Herbert said.
Herbert said she didn’t know if readers will connect with her book but she’s happy it did well.
“It’s a funny business,” Herbert said. “You never know and really once you’ve written the best book you can, it’s kind of out of your hands what happens at that point. You just have to keep writing and be optimistic that your book will find readers.”
A sequel novel, “Scorched Grounds,” is already on pre-sale on Amazon. Herbert said the story is about a woman afraid of the color red after watching her family members being murdered when she was young.
Herbert previously worked for the State of Alabama as a corrections officer and in the Department of Labor. She said working in corrections got her interested in true crime.
“It was interesting to supervise inmates and hear their stories and watch their behaviors,” Herbert said. “Although I haven’t based any characters per se on an inmate whom I’ve supervised, it did perk my interest in that area.”
Although Wetumpka hasn’t specifically inspired Herbert’s writing, she said she likes using the Southern setting and superstitions such as putting acorns on windowsills during thunderstorms.
“All my books have either been set in Alabama or Georgia so I feel like the Southern setting has been really important to me,” Herbert said. “I think it is with most Southern writers. I think we have a strong sense of place.”
Herbert’s first novel “Siren’s Secret” was published in 2013 and was a romance story about mermaids in the Alabama bayou.
“I was just one of those weird kids who was into mermaids when I was little and we’d go to the beach and that’s what I’d be thinking about,” Herbert said.
Herbert said anyone interested in writing should join local writing groups to meet other authors, share ideas and receive objective criticism. Herbert is a member of a writing group in Wetumpka called The Novel Chicks.
“It’s always been very encouraging over the years to see their successes and it’s motivating when you know other people in your field and can meet with and talk to eye to eye instead of just on the internet,” Herbert said. “Nothing beats meeting people face-to-face.”