Friday, September 1, 2023


The Carolina Series


Get a behind-the-scenes all-access pass to The Carolina Series by Debby Grahl!


I love the mountains and the ocean and since I live near them both, I decided to do a series in the Carolinas. 

Mountain Blaze, the first in the series, takes place outside of Ashville NC. The story introduces the large McCoy family. 

Island Heat, which is set on Hilton Head Island SC, features Suzanna Shay, a McCoy cousin.


What is the sub-genre and trope? Did your characters lead you to this genre or was that decided before the story began?

I knew in Island Heat there would be a murder, and it would be Romantic Suspense.

Are you more character or plot-driven?

I would say a little of both. I decide on the plot, then the characters, but a lot of the time, the characters help with the plot.

With many main and secondary characters, how do you keep them separated in your mind? Do you have a story/vision board above your workspace?

I don’t use a vision board, but I do an outline of each character.

I know from previous interviews that characters take on a life of their own. Were any of the characters in this series determined to take their own direction instead of where you initially wanted them to go?

In a way, yes. In Mountain Blaze, Jennifer Parelle, another McCoy cousin, was the obvious character to be in the next book, but Suzanna wouldn’t leave my mind. Jennifer will appear in the third book.

Are any of the male POVs based on anyone you know? 

No, Austen comes strictly from my imagination.

Are any of the female POVs based on anyone you know? 

No, same as Austen, Suzanna is from my imagination.

Was there any one character/scene that was harder to write about than the others?  

In Island Heat, the plot behind the murder and determining who the killer would be took a lot of rewrites.

What is your favorite book in the series? I know that we aren’t supposed to have “favorites” as far as our children, but seriously, who’s your favorite character and why?

Dillon McCoy who’s introduced in Mountain Blaze. 

I love books with cowboys, and I enjoyed creating his personality. Not to mention, he’s a hunk.

Series question - Who is your favorite couple and why did you decide on their dynamics?

This is tough, because I like both Dillon and Dianna, and Suzanna and Austen. It’s hard to explain how their personalities come to me. 

In Mountain Blaze, I wanted Dillon and Diana to be about as opposite as possible, but still wanted  a strong attraction. 

Suzanna and Austen have a lot in common, but I developed a number of outside circumstances for them to overcome.

How do you get inside these characters’ heads to find their perfect HEA?

If I weren’t a writer, what I’m about to say would sound crazy, but they pop into my head and talk to me.

What scene in this book/series sticks out the most for you? Why?

Without giving too much away, there’s a scene where Suzanna leaves the hotel, unaware danger awaits. At the same time, Austen wakes up and realizes she’s gone. In a panic, he races to find her.

Series - Were any of the books harder to write than others?

I don’t know how many times I rewrote different scenes in Island Heat.

This question is if you write in MULTIPLE POVs not just the hero and heroine - I love the multiple POVs in a book. It’s not just the hero and heroine, but we get inside the heads of multiple characters throughout this series. I feel that it gives the story further depth. Do you think you will write another book or series following this multiple POV outline?

Yes, I plan on taking the McCoy family through many adventures.

How long did it take you to write this book/series?

For some reason, Mountain Blaze was easier to write than Island Heat, which took many months.

How did you come up with the title for your book and series?

Actually, Island Heat was supposed to be the first in the series, but my characters decided otherwise. Since I had the word heat in one book, I decided on Mountain Blaze.

If you met these characters in real life would you get along?

Yes, except for the evil ones.

Series question – Did you know in advance that you were going to write this as a series or did one of the characters in book one demand their own story?

I planned on it being a series, but as I said, Mountain Blaze wasn’t supposed to be the first.

If your book/series were made into a movie, which actors do you see as playing your characters?

This is where my age comes through. The acters and actresses I would pick are all too old to play the parts. I’m honestly not familiar with those in their thirties.

Can you give us a hint as to what we can expect next? Whether a new book and series or a sequel to an existing series? Can you share a small tease?

The third in the series will take place in Charleston SC. Jennifer and Luke will clash when Jennifer is sent to oversee the modernization of Luke’s family-owned historic hotel. When a body is found and a hurricane rushes toward the city, Jennifer and Luke’s lives are sent in a direction neither expected.

Check out all my interviews/reviews for Debby Grahl!

Award-winning author Debby Grahl lives on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with her husband David. Besides writing, she enjoys biking, walking on the beach, and a glass of wine at sunset. Visually impaired since childhood by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), she uses screen-reading software to research and write her books.

Rue Toulouse, a contemporary romance set in the French Quarter, medalled as second place in the Readers’ Favorite international competition, and was awarded first place in the Top Shelf Fiction for the Romance category. His Magic Touch, a paranormal romance, is also set in New Orleans. Her latest book, Island Heat, will be released May 1, 2023, and will be the second book in her three-part Carolina series. The first, Mountain Blaze, released November 2, 2020, has received a five-star review from Readers’ Favorite.

Connect with Debby:










The Carolina Series - Book 1

Rodeo star Dillon McCoy comes home to the mountains of North Carolina to lick his wounds and take over running the family ranch, the Lazy M, unaware danger awaits. 

Diana Thompson is having doubts about her engagement to Trent Sawyer. Needing time away, she agrees to leave Chapel Hill and spend Thanksgiving with her friend Jenn at her ranch.

 When Diana and Dillon meet, neither can deny their attraction, but both must resolve past relationships before giving in to their desire. Danger lurks after Dillon turns down an anonymous offer to purchase the ranch. And when a body is found, Dillon is determined to discover who wants the McCoy land bad enough to commit murder. 

Can he and Diana elude the killer while the sparks of their newfound love grow?

ISLAND HEAT by Debby Grahl
The Carolina Series - Book 2

When bookstore owner Suzanna Shay and writer Austen Kincade meet on a Who Done It mystery cruise, their instant attraction has them more interested in romance than searching for clues. But when the leading actress in the shipboard murder skit, Austen’s publisher’s wife, throws herself at Austen, she’s furious when he rejects her advances and vows to have Austen no matter what it takes.

After the ship docks, with plans for a future together, Suzanna and Austen part, unaware vindictive lies will soon test their newfound love and entangle them in a real mystery that proves deadly.


  1. Deb, thanks so much for hosting me! Best, Debby

    1. I had so much fun! Thank you for the interview!