Author Interview: Mary Ferguson Powers & Counting On Trust

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Author Interview: Mary Ferguson Powers

  1. How did you choose your genre? What made you write this book?

I wrote Counting on Trust out of my career interest in globalization and its impacts and microbiology. I also have been personally interested in how relationships have evolved in an age of social media and limited privacy. The suspense thriller genre seemed like the right way to weave those interests together.

There were several factors that motivated me to write Counting on Trust.

First was my interest in globalization and its impacts, especially with regard to China and its relations with the U.S. This began when I accompanied my husband on a trip to China in 1978 with a delegation of faculty members from the University of Pittsburgh. At that time, China was just opening up to the West. What I saw and learned there suggested some interesting story ideas.

Next, the idea for a story involving corporate intrigue came while my husband and I were living in Nebraska. There was a lot of research on GMO foods being done at some of the universities there. We lived on a small lake, and I decided to invent a fictional company, Omniprotein, that was doing research on GMO fish. The theft of this company’s intellectual property by a Chinese general kicks off all the subsequent action.

A third motivation is my interest in the work of Jane Austen. She explored relationships and challenged the social norms around romance and marriage in her day. I wanted to explore how relationships are changing in modern times. I also wanted to examine the fragility of trust in relationship: how easily it can be broken and how difficult it can be to repair. To that end, Counting on Trust follows three couples of different ages and backgrounds, each struggling with issues of trust.

  1. Writers write what they know, and must observe the world. Are you a first born, middle or last child and how does this shape your view of the world?

I was the first born among my siblings. Also, I grew up during the Great Depression and then the Second World War. I t was a time of big changes in America and also a dangerous time. I think it made me more willing to explore things for myself and build relationships because situations could change so quickly. It made me aware at a young age that you had to make an effort to understand what’s going on in the wider world, or you might become a victim of what you chose to ignore.

  1. Where is your favorite place to write?

I live on an Whidbey Island in the northern Puget Sound and my house faces east with a view across a the Sound of the Cascade Mountains. There is a glass enclosed sun room with this view that I have found to be the perfect spot to write.

  1. How do you feel about killing your darlings, and what do you do with the remains?

Potential plots that didn’t evolve into a finished sstory, and characters that couldn’t find a home in a novel don’t go in the waste basket. I put them in a blender and remix them into something better for the next tie around.

  1. You are introduced to your favorite author. Who is it, and what is that one burning question you must ask them?

My favorite writer is Jane Austen. She was my biggest inspiration for becoming a writer. I appreciated the way she deconstructed relationships and the social norms around romance and marriage in her day. I would ask her how she found the courage to take on and critique the British landed gentry in her time, especially as regards things such as the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favorable social standing and economic security.

  1. Inquiring minds want to know…tell readers something about you that no one knows.

I grew up in the Great Depression, one of several children in a family with just a single parent – my mother. She had to work very hard to support us. I loved and admired her deeply, and she was, in some sense, a model for some of the strong women who appear in my writing.

  1. If you could have one super power in your existence, what would it be?

It would be the power to wave my hand and make anybody realize their authentic self and pursue whatever truly inspires and energizes them, without fear of disapproval. But then, where would all the twisting plots and wonderfully quirky characters we all love come from?

Counting on Trust, Audio Book by Mary Ferguson Powers

GENRE: Mystery/Suspense


In this suspense-charged, touching novel, Counting on Trust, information is stolen from a U.S. genetic engineering company (Omniprotein) by an employee promised payment by a Chinese general who wants to profit from selling the company’s technologies in the military region of China he commands.

  • To force quick payment the thief attacks fellow employees and threatens to continue until his money arrives. Will his next targets be: young lovers, computer geek Gabriel and gorgeous biologist Selena, who are discovering loving sex while trying to overcome post-traumatic effects of Selena’s girlhood rape.
  • Company president, Eleanor, who’s determined to keep some privacy and intimacy although her job’s high profile and her husband, Charley, has just had prostate cancer surgery.

*Venture capitalist, John, who plans to duplicate Omniprotein’s facility in China and reunite with his ex-wife, fashion designer Ziyi, who returned to Shanghai after their only child died.

The personal stories of these couples explore how privacy, intimacy and trust are changing in our social-media age. They paint a compelling portrait of our time.

Excerpt – Bad Day

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Themes of novels by M. Ferguson Powers reflect the author’s varied interests, including preservation of the natural world and its creatures;

Challenges of building and maintaining loving relationships in a culture with decreasing respect for personal boundaries and privacy.

Influences of globalization on world events and how the U. S. and other nations relate to one another.

Public policy issues such as controlling the military-industrial-political complex and requiring the health care industry to be more respectful of its clients.

The need for cooperation across governments, cultures, and societies to address global challenges such as climate change.

Developments in business and university administration and management.

Powers has taught microbiology, headed a university office of research, served as executive director of two university-business partnership programs, and co-authored two books on university administration. She has a bachelor of science degree in bacteriology from The Pennsylvania State University, a master’s in experimental psychology from George Mason University, and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

She lives on an island near Seattle with husband David R. Powers and their two shelties. Her first novel, Each Unique and Fascinating, about a bullied young girl whose father has gone to war, was published in 2012. OrcaSpeak, a novel of relationships and suspense, was published in 2013, and its prequel, Counting on Trust, was published in 2017.


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In The Key Of Love

I should have known I would end up here... Give me a good book and I'm in heaven. Especially romance, mystery, mayhem, the fantastic and the fey. Give me a laptop and I'm writing any one of these, and not in any particular order.

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