Darlene Foster's Blog

Guest Blog for Debra’s 6th Mystery Novel

Posted on: June 5, 2020

I am pleased to have as a guest on my blog, Debra Purdy Kong, who has just launched her 6th mystery novel. Debra has been a guest on my blog, here where she talked about how she gets her ideas and gives some great advice to anyone thinking of writing. Today she talks about her inspiration for the latest Casey Holland mystery, The Blade Man.

So, This Bus Driver Approached Me…
By Debra Purdy Kong

After my third Casey Holland mystery, Beneath the Bleak New Moon, was published, a local bus driver contacted me through Twitter to ask about my books. My series is set in and around Vancouver, British Columbia, which is where the driver and I live.

My protagonist, Casey, is a 33-year-old transit security officer who’s employed by a private bus company. She rides the buses, usually after a customer complaint, to deal with smaller types of issues that either evolve into or merge with larger crimes. By book two she becomes legal guardian to a teenager and has begun a romance with a bus driver named Lou, which makes her personal and professional life complicated and tumultuous at times.

My real-life driver offered to answer any questions I might have about the job. I jumped at the invitation and over several months, we met at Starbucks, where I learned that this driver had been assaulted by passengers on three separate occasions.

At that time, drivers had no protective shields. Their only line of defense was to press an alarm button which would notify the police and allow the dispatchers audio access to what was happening. Some of the buses had cameras but others didn’t. Depending on the situation, a supervisor might also be dispatched in a vehicle. The thing is, a lot can happen before help arrives.

Each time, the driver’s recovery took longer. After the third assault, PTSD eventually forced a change in careers. With two kids to support, it wasn’t an easy decision, but this person felt that drivers just weren’t sufficiently equipped or physically prepared to deal with attacks. On some levels, I could relate to this. Having worked in retail for five years and later as a security guard, I’d also faced hostile encounters, but none where I was actually struck.

Despite the attacks my driver experienced, this person had a surprising amount of sympathy for some of those angry, desperate folks. They weren’t drunk jerks, but people with serious mental health issues who’d been abandoned by the system. That revelation led to the inspiration for my latest Casey mystery, The Blade Man.

We live in a stressful world. Even before the pandemic arrived, medical experts expressed concern about the rise in mental health issues and the lack of resources to adequately cope with people who needed help. This is why I felt compelled to address the issue in The Blade Man.

While the villains are caught at the end, the larger mental health issue is not resolved. Even in fiction, the topic is too complex to neatly wrap up. Crime novels often shine a light on societal problems which, as a reader, I’ve always found compelling. I hope that my real-life driver feels safer now and that a happy ending evolved from all the pain and trauma.

Debra’s Bio:

Debra Purdy Kong’s volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs, inspired her to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Her employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provide the background for her Casey Holland transit security novels.

Debra has published short stories in a variety of genres as well as personal essays, and articles for publications such as Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul, B.C. Parent Magazine, and The Vancouver Sun. She is a facilitator for the Creative Writing Program through Port Moody Recreation and a long-time member of Crime Writers of Canada. More information about Debra and her books can be found at www.debrapurdykong.com or contact her at debra_kong@telus.net

Book Blurb for The Blade Man:

Who is the Blade Man and why has this mysterious loner been attacking Mainland Public Transport bus drivers? And who is trying to burn MPT down? The company’s president suspects an inside job and orders security officer Casey Holland to launch an internal investigation or face termination.

Convinced that she’s being set up to fail, Casey feels the pressure. With her and Lou’s wedding only weeks away, Casey desperately needs answers, but anger at work and on the streets thwart her efforts. Nor do the police welcome her help.

More employees are attacked, and the president forces Casey to take deeper risks. But how much is too much? How far must she go before facing off with him and MPT’s enemies? Find out in this explosive sixth installment of Casey Holland transit mysteries.

Links For the Blade Man:

Amazon: mybook.to/TheBladeMan
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-blade-man
Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1495092401

Find Debra at:

Website www.debrapurdykong.com
WordPress blog: https://debrapurdykong.wordpress.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebraPurdyKong
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Casey-Holland-Transit-Security-Mysteries/139005706175139

Here is my review of the first book in the series, The Opposite of Dark.


These books are great and don’t need to be read in order. Check them out!

60 Responses to "Guest Blog for Debra’s 6th Mystery Novel"

Fascinating to hear about Debra’s research. I had no idea of the trauma transit drivers endured! Thank you Debra for shining a light on that issue as well as giving us an inside look at your research.

Hi Sue, and you’re very welcome! Yes, it was an eye-opener for me too. These days, thanks to COVID-19, the Vancouver drivers now have plexi-glass shields to protect them, so we’ll see if they stay there after the pandemic ends.

This has been eye-opening. In the UK many bus drivers died from COVID 19 until more protection was added. Driving a bus is not as safe as we once thought.

You’re right, Darlene. i heard a story about a passenger coughing on a driver in Texas, and the driver subsequently dying from COVID. Many of ours are wearing masks and gloves these days, understandably.

Clearly it is not. More front line workers we need to appreciate!

That is amazing backstory. I had no idea bus drivers were attacked so often. That breaks my heart. I’m glad this particular gentlemen changed careers!

Thanks for your comment, Jacqui, and yes, and from what I learned through research, attacks on drivers aren’t uncommon in other cities, depending on the amount of protection the buses have.

It is a sad state of affairs, isn’t it? My experience with most bus drivers is that they are genuinely friendly and helpful.

Yes, they are. But they are also wary these days, like most essential service workers.

Reblogged this on Mystery Deb and commented:
I’m delighted to appear on Darlene Foster’s blog today, where I’m discussing the inspiration for Casey Holland mystery #6, The Blade Man.

Thanks for reblogging, Debra.

My pleasure, Darlene, and thanks so much for hosting me! You are a supportive, inspiration to writers!

Debra, I see how your criminology background informs your work and conveys your message through mystery. At my last book signing downtown in my city, I was struck by how many mentally ill people roam the streets. So sad.

It is sad indeed. I do hope governments begin to implement programs to help these poor souls.

Thank you for your comments, Marian, and I agree. This problem was escalated in our area years ago when the provincial government decided to cut back on facilities. People have been paying a price ever since. While our current government has agreed to do more, it certainly isn’t enough.

This really is interesting, Darlene. I had no idea drivers got attacked by passengers. I’ve never heard of it, but most likely it just goes unreported here. A interesting sounding series.

Thank you for your comments, Robbie. Brutality is everywhere and has been for bus drivers for some time. Unfortunately, it’s gotten worse over the past twenty years, and the job is less safe than it used to be. Their safety also depends on the routes that drivers are assigned. Some have safer routes than others, which is also showcased in the book.

The series is great, Robbie. You would enjoy these stories.

I never thought about it but bus drivers are a vulnerable target for mentally unstable people or criminals. You’re in an enclosed space with people you don’t know. A fascinating topic for a mystery. Thanks for sharing Debra and Darlene!

Thanks, Christa. I agree it is a great topic for a story. For Debra to hear about it straight from the horse’s mouth, is great!

You’re very welcome, Christa. I think that part of my job as a writer is to not only entertain but to shed a little bit of light on social issues that are often overlooked.

Hi Debra, it’s great to learn about the inspirational story behind your book. We do have many society issues such as your real life driver. It’s sad that these issues may not have real solutions. Good to know your driver is safe by switching career. This is an interesting post, Darlene!

Thank you for your comments, Miriam. Yes, sometimes we have to make big life-changing decisions for a variety of reasons, and hope that things will be better.

You’re welcome, Debra. The protest is a good example of changing the system. The first office was charged with 3rd degree murder, and the protest didn’t stop. Now he is charged with 2nd degree, and that is as far as it could go because it was not 1st degree murder with premeditation. The other three officers were also charged. This is a fastest case to deliver the charges. I didn’t watch the news too much so I don’t know what else the protesters want.

I’ve been watching the coverage, and it seems clear that–much like my book–violence is a manifestation of deeper issues.

Yes, I just read a headline of CNN in my inbox, says Trump ignores the police reform. I have to read and see who requests or demands the police reform.

Thanks, Miriam. I´m pleased you enjoyed the post.

I did, Darlene. We do have inspirations around us.

What a facinating back story for a book. I will have a lot more respect for bus drivers, knowing the risks they take. Although a complex situation, I’m very happy you addressed it in a book!

Thank you for your kind words, Patricia. Yes, after writing that book, my outlook about drivers changed quite a bit. Vancouver has quite a number of female drivers as well, and I’m sure they don’t always feel completely comfortable with some of the people they encounter.

Books do a great job of bringing attention to many issues, as many of the books you review do. Thanks for commenting, Patricia.

Wonderful to meet you here, Debra. Like so many other commenters, I truly had no idea what bus drivers endure.

This is the job of a writer, to bring issues to the attention of readers, even if subtly. Debra does a good job of this.

Thank you for your kind comments. Yes, a lot of people don’t see what happens unless their regular riders in some of the more volatile areas of a city. I’ve never witnessed it myself and wouldn’t have guessed how precarious a bus driver’s job can be until I sat down and listened to a driver.

As others as commented, this was a very revealing interview.

Great post Darlene featuring Debra. Great background Debra and as so many have said….what an eye opener. I truly had no idea. Thanks for surfacing the issue of mental health and the strained support factor.

Thanks, Kirt. This has been an eyeopener for many. When people read this book they will not only be entertained but made aware as well. The makings of a good book.

You’re very welcome, Kirt, and thanks for stopping by!

Hi Darlene. Thanks for this lovely intro to Debra. Wow, what a collection of work. Hugs all around.

Debra has quite the collection and is not finished yet!

Thank you, Teagan. It’s definitely been a labour of love 🙂

What a fascinating life Debra has led – and so prolific. The Blade Man sounds like a worthy addition to a wonderful series. Toni x

It´s always great to learn about the authors of great books! Thanks, Toni.

Thank you for your kind words, Toni!

I really feel for the bus drivers and train drivers for that matter. so much anger and angst out in the community…Our drivers now are in cages for their protection and have been for a while. I am pretty sure I couldn’t do their job…The book sounds interesting…#SeniSal

I agree, a job I couldn´t do either. During my years of commuting, I met some very nice bus drivers too. I´m glad Debra has written a book that will bring these issues to mind. Thanks for commenting.

Thank you for your comments, and I agree, I couldn’t do the job either! As one of my young characters says in the book, their work is heroic.

What an interesting starting point for a novel. This is such a good demonstration for the importance and value of research.

So true! Thanks, Cath.

We never realize just how vulnerable we are in a situation. Imagine how many transit staff caught the Covid. Sounds like a great read and well researched and timely subject. Thanks for introducing us to Debra, Darlene ❤

So true. Many bus drivers in the UK got the virus and died. Very sad. You will enjoy Debra’s books.

Thank you, for your kind words! I appreciate it 🙂

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