So summers pretty much over and it’s time for me to dig back into the blog (which is no hardship let me tell you) so I’m going back to what I love and that’s chatting to other authors about their work and the processes behind the books they write.
I’m starting off with the wonderfully talented Joan Livingston, author of Chasing the Case, the first in a series about journalist/sleuth Isabel Long. And I’m very glad to say she took some time out to answer my probing questions regarding her latest novel Redneck’s Revenge which is released through Crooked Cats Books on 26th September.
Tell us the basic premise of your novel and tell us a bit about your lead character Isabel Long?
When I started the Isabel Long mystery series, I wanted a strong female protagonist, someone who was savvy and a bit sassy. I also wanted to create a mature woman who was reinventing herself because of her circumstances.
So who is Isabel Long? She’s a long-time journalist who was the managing editor of a local paper before she got canned. The paper’s new owner said she had to re-apply for her job, but she wasn’t having any of that.
Like many journalists, Isabel has the curiosity gene. She also has a stack of cold case files she snagged from the newsroom on her last day. Among them was her first big story as a rookie reporter: the disappearance of a woman in the small town where they both lived. That was her first case — and the plot for Chasing the Case.
With her success for that first case, people are reaching out to her. That’s what happens in the second, Redneck’s Revenge, which has a Sept. 26 release.
Actually, the start of the first book is the end of a really bad year for Isabel, including the sudden death of her husband. But her period of grieving is over and she’s ready for new adventures — and having a man in her life. That happens when she works part-time at the local watering hole.
Isabel has an unusual Watson — her 92-year-old mother who comes to live with her. She is based on my own mother, who is now 94. She also has three grown children and a baby granddaughter.
I will admit there’s a lot of me in Isabel. We are both long-time journalists. We’re both of Portuguese heritage. But while Isabel became an amateur P.I., I just write about them. .
Did you take any inspiration for ‘the case’ Isabel is chasing from any real life crimes?
Not really. In the first, the mystery of a woman’s disappearance has lingered for 28 years. In the second, a woman asks Isabel to find out what happened to her father. The official story is he was passed-out drunk when his house burned down in his junkyard. She believes he was murdered. Both came from somewhere in my brain, as does the third.
Why did you choose the setting you chose and do the locations hold any real life significance to you?
I chose to set my mystery — plus other fiction — in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts in the U.S. I am talking about rural towns around a thousand people or less. My family and I lived there for 25 years before we moved to Taos, New Mexico. After 11 years, we returned. When I was a reporter, my first job was covering the hilltowns, so I got to know them intimately. I am enamoured by small towns, where it seems everybody knows each other and their business.
Did it take a lot of research for your locations and story line?
No, I just took what I know and had my way with it.
Do you have a favourite novel or writer who has inspired your own writing?
I can’t think of one author who has had that much power over my writing. But over the years, I have found many authors who have showed me what’s possible to do, especially in creating believable characters.
What is your ideal writing environment?
I write at home, typically early in the morning. But sometimes an idea strikes me during the day and I can’t wait to get it down. I have an office again, but before our recent move to the home we renovated, I wrote at the kitchen table of the apartment we were renting. My office is not very quiet as my husband’s wood shop next door makes a lot of noise. But I have strong powers of concentration, probably from working in a newsroom.
What are you working on next?
I am getting close to the end of Checking the Traps, the third in this series. A few of the characters from the first two are in this one. I love them too much to let them go.
Huge thanks to Joan for stopping by, if you want to catch up with her you can find her here;
and pre-order a copy of her latest release from amazon here
Heres a little teaser –
ISABEL LONG’S SECOND CRIME MYSTERY
Her next case. She’s in it for good.
Isabel Long is in a funk months after solving her first case. Her relationship with the Rooster Bar’s owner is over, but no surprise there since his sister turned out to be the killer. Then cops say she must work for a licensed P.I. before working solo.
Encouraged by her Watson — her 92-year-old mother — Isabel snaps out of it by hooking up with a P.I. and finding a new case.
The official ruling is Chet Waters, an ornery so-and-so, was passed out when his house caught fire. His daughter, who inherited the junkyard, believes he was murdered. Topping the list of suspects are dangerous drug-dealing brothers, a rival junkyard owner, and an ex-husband.
Could the man’s death simply be a case of redneck’s revenge? Isabel is about to find out.