SJ Rozan is the author of the Lydia Chin/Bill Smith books. Unusual in fiction, the series switches narrators from book to book, giving Rozan’s long running private eye series not only a unique hook but a fresh take on each story she tells. Set mainly in New York, the new and long awaited installment in this series is set in Mississippi. Despite the radical change in setting, it’s still very much a Lydia and Bill story, and readers should expect a very welcome return to Lydia and Bill’s world. Paper Son is out July 2 and can be pre-ordered on the website.
Mariah Fredericks wrote one of my favorite books of 2018, A Death of No Importance, featuring Jane Prescott, maid to the wealthy Benchley family in 1910 New York. The next book in the series, Death of a New American, will be published in April of 2019. and it’s every bit as terrific, vital, and hard to put down. Mariah was nice enough to answer a few questions about her books.
Q: I like that you include the Titanic but it’s just almost background. Did you feel that as you were writing a novel set in 1912, it had to be a part of the canvas? How did you approach it?
Owen Laukkanen and Nick Petrie are two of the most talented and original thriller writers at work at the moment. Owen’s latest book, Gale Force, is a bravura tour de force set on board a salvage ship; Nick burst on the scene with The Drifter and hasn’t made a wrong move since.
Q: I’ve been reading and selling mysteries for so long now I’ve started to feel like a biologist, making categories. I had just read a bunch of cozies before I read your books and started thinking about how thrillers and cozies have some similarities. Certain tropes are expected. Can you talk about how you utilize tropes to structure your books?
Nancy Herriman has written several novels, and has now turned her pen to Elizabethan England and a new character, herbalist Bess Ellyott.
Q: Can you talk about your career a little bit? Looking through your publishing output, I see you had two earlier books that seem to fit the romance category and then you switched it up to writing mysteries. Can you talk about that trajectory?
A: I can, and it was a lengthy trajectory! For ten-plus years I tried my hand at various genres—sexy historical romance, historical young adult fiction, contemporary women’s fiction and romance—to no avail. At last, though, my agent found a publisher interested in a “sweet” historical romance I’d written that was set in 1830’s London. The Irish Healer was my first sale. Unfortunately, the publisher closed its fiction line a short few years later, leaving me searching for a new direction to go. Knowing my love for mysteries, my agent suggested I work on one. I did, and she succeeded in selling my first mystery series, “A Mystery of Old San Francisco,” to Penguin Random House. And, as they say, the rest is history.
I had meaning to get to Emily Littlejohn’s books for awhile – mainly thanks to a blurb from Deborah Crombie – and with a rare “free reading moment,” I picked up the second book and was immediately smitten. The blend of the Colorado setting, indelible characters, twisty plots and a haunting overlay of folk tales in her now two novels, got me completely hooked. She was nice enough to answer a few questions.
Q: I just finished your first book, and had a hard time believing it really was a first book, as you write with such a mature and nuanced voice. What led to this first book?
Maureen Jennings is very well known as the creator of Inspector Murdoch, with the popular television series spreading Murdoch and Victorian Toronto far and wide. But of course, before the Murdoch television show, there were the books, which are remarkable. Jennings is great at creating a setting and an atmosphere – Victorian Toronto is brought to life in her words as well as in any television depiction. Her depth of characterization, her lovely prose, and her attention to what was happening in the world at the time she’s writing about all make this series a standout. She returns Murdoch to the printed page after a ten year hiatus with Let Darkness Bury the Dead.
Karen Dionne has been on the mystery scene for years – writing mass market thrillers and most recently, an adaptation of the TV show, “The Killing.” She also is the driving force behind the Backspace Writer’s Conference, for which she’s been honored by the Library of Michigan as Author of the Year. But with The Marsh King’s Daughter, Karen joins the big time as she draws on her experiences homesteading in the UP in the 70’s.
Q: Can you talk a bit about your own experience homesteading in the UP?
When you read Lori Rader-Day’s new book, The Day I Died, it should be obvious why she’s regarded as an up and comer. Her first two books, The Black Hour and Little Pretty Things, garnered plenty of attention and award nominations. This one stays with you long after you finish reading it – and Lori was nice enough to answer some questions about it.
Q: I saw in the back of this book that you’ve been thinking about writing it for 10 years. What part of this story came to you first? What compelled you forward to work on this for 10 years?
Laura Joh Rowland wrote the long running, beloved Sano Ichiro series set in feudal Japan. She has also written mysteries featuring Charlotte Bronte, and now is writing a series set in 1888 London featuring photographer Sarah Bain. In the first of the series, The Ripper’s Shadow, Sarah ends up in the crosshairs of both the police and the Ripper himself.
Q: Your first series, set in feudal Japan, was always really popular with our customers, and I wonder how you picked that particular time period?
Jamie interviewed Emily Winslow, author of Jane Doe January. Her powerful answers about her rape case are included here.
Q: You maintained your desire for justice for twenty years after your rape. Was there any point where you thought the official case would progress any further?
A: I was always hopeful. I was frustrated that it wasn’t happening yet, but I always imagined that the case would move forward at some point in the future. Right up until the end, I believed that we would get all the way to conviction.