New Focused on Murder Q & A

My dear friend Julie Williams did a Q&A with me about Focused on Murder over at her site.

I hope you’ll check out Julie’s lively and colorful blog site, and info about her new novel. I answer questions about why I write what I write and whether my protagonist is like me.

Do you and your protagonist have similar qualities, quirks?

Coming Soon!

The past few months have been a blur of working with my critique group, getting feedback and editing my mystery—Focused on Murder.
There are still a number of steps until I’m published, so I can’t post a date yet, but I hope you’ll check it out when the time comes.

A Story’s Setting

Why do so many writers set their stories in hometowns, even if they haven’t lived there for many years? Because in those formative years, whether small town, city or suburb, so many of life’s firsts happened—when we were most aware and all our senses alert.

After nearly a lifetime of experiences, the first ones are still seared into my soul:

  • First smell of lake. Skin puckered and eyes bloodshot from staying in it from morning till dark, you smell like lake too. You are lake
  • First love. You grin so hard and so long your jaws ache, you kiss so hard your mouths bruise
  • First disappointment when he doesn’t show up; first heartbreak when you realize he’ll never show up
  • First taste of sugary doughnuts your palsied great-aunt Emma made in her kitchen. You thought she was an angel because she wore a white apron, white kerchief and lived in a cloud of white flour
  • First loon’s call. You think it’s calling to you, and it is. It’s all calling to you—the breeze unsettling the birches, canoe paddle slapping the water, conversation of Mergansers floating under the dock, a peeper chorus
  • First reflection.lake

I hope this blog post prompts a few memories of your own remarkable first experiences. I’d love to hear them…

Next Big Thing Blog Tag

Happily, my dear friend, the talented writer and artist, Julie Williams, tagged me in the Next Big Thing interview series. It’s been called an international tag game among writers. One writer tags another writer to answer interview questions about an upcoming book or other literature project. Here are my answers:

What is your working title of your book?

Focused on Murder –A Spirit Lake Mystery

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wanted to write about Northern Minnesota, where I spent much of my childhood. So far, I have three Spirit Lake Mysteries in different stages of development. Focused on Murder is completed, Close up on Murder is being revised, and I’m nearly finished with a second draft of Exposed.

What genre does your book fall under?

Traditional mystery/thriller

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

When I read, I prefer to visualize the characters in books without too much detail from the author, but Claire Danes’ character from Homeland comes to mind for Britt, only taller and physically very fit. Adam Beach would be great as forest ranger, Ben Winters.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When photojournalist Britt Johansson stumbles across the frozen body of a co-ed in the wilds near the US/Canadian border, it sets her off on a hunt for the killer, putting her into the crosshairs of an international crime ring investigation.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m ready to make this happen, and I’m open to all possibilities.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft took about a year. The second draft has taken another year because I stopped to write a first draft of Exposed during NaNoWriMo.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I like Steve Hamilton, John Sandford, William Kent Krueger, Louise Penny, Denise Hamilton, Kate Atkinson and Jim Lynch. Jim Lynch isn’t in my genre, but his characters and settings are wonderful.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I love Northern Minnesota and wanted to pay homage to the Native American culture of that area, the weather, lakes, small towns and people. It’s my way of keeping in touch with my roots.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Photojournalist Britt Johansson will push the limits to keep the bullies of this world from winning. Ben is a forest ranger dedicated to protecting the national forests and all the creatures in it. Too often, that means keeping the two-legged creatures from using the forests for their dirty deeds.

My books are also about family and community—not always pretty. I’ve chosen a small-town setting because it’s a microcosm, but shameful secrets and selfless actions happen among humans everywhere, city, suburb, or slum. Even though my mysteries are about the horrible things people can do to each other, they’re also about the everyday heroes who tip the balance and enhance our lives—the people who pay attention to us, see our flaws and love us anyway.

I hope you’ll check out the excellent authors I’ve tagged, members of Sisters in Crime and my mystery critique group.