Debby Giusti Guest Post and Giveaway: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

Novel Reaction is excited to welcome author Debby Guisti here to share with us the importance of weather and location on the setting of a mystery novel.

Debby Giusti is a medical technologist who loves working with test tubes and petri dishes almost as much as she loves to write.  Growing up as an Army Brat, Debby met and married her husband–then a Captain in the Army–at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  Together they traveled the world, raised three Army Brats of their own and have now settled in Atlanta, Georgia where Debby spins tales of suspense that touch the heart and soul.


Debby’s work has won numerous awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award for Inspirational Suspense, the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Golden Quill, the Beacon, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and the Write Touch.  In addition to full-length fiction, Debby has written magazine articles for Southern Lady, Woman’s World, Our Sunday Visitor, Army and Family, and served for over twelve years on the editorial advisory board of ADVANCE for Administrators of the Laboratory.


It Was a Dark and Stormy Night!

By Debby Giusti


It was a dark and stormy night.  Anyone familiar with Charles M. Schulz’s cartoon strip, Peanuts, will recall the opening line of Snoopy’s Great American Novel.  Although his writing career never blossomed, the loveable pooch did understand the importance of establishing the setting at the beginning of his book.  Take a dark and stormy night, add rumbling thunder and bolts of lightning that expose an old Victorian house badly in need of repair and you’ve got a suspense story waiting to be written.


Any author worth her weight in typing paper knows the importance of anchoring the reader at the onset of the story.  In a suspense novel, time of day, weather, location and a mix of details hand selected by the writer weave together into a chilling setting that keeps the reader turning the page.  Take the unsuspecting hero or heroine from their ordinary world and drop them smack dab in the middle of an escalating problem–whether manmade or an act of God—to build reader anticipation and drive home the point that something sinister is about to happen.


Blue skies and sunshine are saved until the end when everything works out. After all, the hero and heroine deserve a happily ever after.  By the close of the book, they’ve survived a series of life-threatening dangers in an ominous setting that grows worse on every page.


In THE OFFICER’S SECRET, my May release from Love Inspired Books, the story opens with a middle-of-the-night summons that forces my heroine to drive through a storm to a military post she vowed never to visit again.  I added a set of quarters surprisingly similar to her house of old, a corpse in the attic and a secret, which causes the heroine to dig deep into her past to uncover the reason an officer died.


THE CAPTAIN’S MISSION, on sale in October, begins when a military training accident turns deadly.  The smell of cordite and smoke permeate the dirt-clogged air and paint the desolate terrain in an eerie veil of gloom. The company commander hero and criminal investigation division special agent heroine are caught in a deadly trap that leads to a mountain campsite where uncovering the truth almost costs them their lives.


My tenth book, THE COLONEL’S DAUGTHER, will be in bookstores next August.  The story commences with a summer storm and a murder victim.  To up the stakes, I tossed in a deserted cemetery, a desecrated gravestone and a serial killer on the loose.  An explosive ending leads to redemption and reunion and a resolution that should satisfy even the most difficult to please.


Whether hurricanes, tornadoes or torrential rains, a mountain cabin or oceanfront condo, high noon or midnight, a well-crafted combination of details sets the stage in which a story can unfold. In a suspense novel, that setting needs to be filled with intrigue and fraught with peril to draw the reader into the danger and keep her on the edge of her seat until The End.


I hope you’ll visit my website and consider reading one of my books.  Leave a comment and the names of your favorite suspense stories and the types of settings that capture your fancy to be included in a drawing for my October Love Inspired Suspense, THE CAPTAIN’S MISSION.


Happy writing!  Happy reading!


Wishing you abundant blessings,

Debby Giusti


Watch for THE CAPTAIN’S MISSION, in stores this October!

A DEMONSTRATION TURNED DEADLY: When one of his soldiers is killed by live ammunition during what was supposed to be a simple training exercise, Captain Phil Thibodeaux wants answers. Even if it means working with the Criminal Investigation Division that seems certain to pin the blame on him. But after CID agent Kelly McQueen defends his conduct, Phil realizes that there’s more to the dedicated agent than meets the eye. Maybe she’s someone he can trust, after all. And he’ll need someone to rely on as investigations lead him to doubt everyone elseeven his own soldiers.

You can read an excerpt here.



Thank you Debby for sharing with us about setting. I have to admit since moving to the extreme desert and living with the fear that in the heat of the sizzling summer I could easily die of dehydration I pay more attention to setting than I previously did in novels. As stated above Debby is giving away a copy of her October release The Captain’s Mission, which is the second book in the Military Investigations Series.

To be entered to win leave a commentthe names of your favorite suspense stories and the types of settings that capture your fancy to be included in a drawing for Debby’s October Love Inspired Suspense. The contest will close September 29th at midnight. This contest is limited to US and Canadian residents only (sorry Internationals, I promise I will have a contest for you soon).

 Conor Sheary Jersey

25 Replies to “Debby Giusti Guest Post and Giveaway: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night”

  1. I loved interviews with this sweet lady (Georgia gal like me). And I am so anxious to read her second book in the series! Please enter me. Thanks.
    jackie.smith[at]dishmail [dot[ net

  2. HI Zorn,
    Nice of you to think of your wife and your friend’s daughter, but have YOU ever considered reading romantic suspense? Bet you’d enjoy THE CAPTAIN’S MISSION!

    Thanks for leaving a comment today!

  3. Debby is a master at weaving in suspense. In The Officer’s Secret, I kept saying, “Don’t go up the house. Don’t go up the stairs! Don’t go in the attic.”


    It’s a good thing my hubby didn’t say boo. He would have been peeling me off the ceiling!

  4. Debby, I love your books and your covers! They have so much atmosphere. I really like scary settings at the shore or in the mountains where even nature can seem ominous or dangerous.

  5. Deb, I can’t wait to read The Captain’s Mission. I loved The Officer’s Secret and was amazed by how seamlessly you write military investigations. Awesome work, Dudette. 😉

    And I love a good, well-placed storm to heighten the tension. Nothing like a dark and stormy night to inspire suspense… or romance.

    Smiling in upstate NY!


  6. Debby, Snoopy is too cute but you’re the master at setting. I got chills just reading the blurbs on your wonderful suspense stories! Looking forward to reading The Captain’s Mission.


  7. Hi Janet,

    I love Snoopy. He never gives up. Plus, I went to Ohio State and loved football. The marching band played “Hang on, Snoopy,” at every game. It turned into our fight song.

  8. Debby, I love how you weave the inclement weather into your plot more like a main character rather than a background setting. The way each story makes me tingle, well, it only proves the author is a creative genius.

    BTW, if you have any of that creativity to spare, just send it my way, LOL!

    I look forward to reading The Captain’s Mission.

  9. Debby, I’ve got the Captain’s Mission in my hot little hands right now….you might know that already since you brought it to ACFW. 🙂
    I can’t wait to get into it. Love your suspenseful rides.

  10. Interesting interview of new-to-me author. Thanks for the opportunity to have The Captain’s Mission.

    As to settings, among my favorites are those in Helen MacInnes’ Decision at Delphi, with scenes in Athens, Sparta, and Delphi and the wild countryside.

  11. Debby, you are such a talented romantic suspense writer! Your scenes and settings always draw me in–and great characterizations, too! So grateful for all the time we got to spend together at ACFW!

  12. Debby,
    Sorry to be late answering, but I’ve read both The Robe and The Silver Chalice–in fact all of Costain’s books.

    Along those lines is The Soldier and the Sage by Richard G. Hubler.

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