Today exclusive interview is with author/Mystery Thriller Week participant Elena Hartwell. Elena lives in Seattle and her most recently published book is “One Dead, Two to Go.” This novel is available as a paperback, as an e-book/i-book (Kindle/Nook) and as an Audible audiobook.
In this mystery, Private Investigator Edwina “Eddie Shoes” Schultz’s most recent job has her parked outside a seedy Bellingham hotel, photographing her quarry as he kisses his mistress goodbye. This is the last anyone will see of the woman … alive. Then her client disappears and Eddie finds herself knee-deep in dangerous company. Spurred on by her card-counting, poker-playing mother who has shown up on her doorstep fresh from the shenanigans that got her kicked out of Vegas, Eddie has to wonder, is her client the latest victim? Or the killer?
Here’s what Elena told us about the book and about the writing life in general:
Tell us something(s) about the book that the blurb doesn’t reveal:
If Sue Grafton and James Rockford had a love child, it would be private investigator Eddie Shoes.
Any Upcoming Promotions/Giveaways/Events We Should Know About?
Currently, there is a Goodreads Giveaway, which runs through January 10. Plus, I have a blog tour starting January 23. You can visit my Events Page for more information: http://elenahartwell.blogspot.com/p/mystery-loves-company-book-tour.html
What was your favorite or most surprising comment/review about the book?
“Avid Alphabet series connoisseurs should flock to this kick-off series.” —Roberta Gordon for InD'Tale Magazine. I loved this review comment because Sue Grafton inspired me as a teenager, and continues to inspire me today. She showed the world that women can be private eyes and mystery novelists in a way that felt groundbreaking. Being compared to her and Janet Evanovich are two of my favorite comments.
If given a chance, which author (living or dead) would you like to meet (have met) and why?
Shakespeare. I’d like to know how he did what he did with language (he invented so many new words) how he produced the sheer volume of material he did, and how his life and writing career entwined.
If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast as which characters? Charisma Carpenter for Eddie. She’s quirky and the right ethnic mix to play a Latina/Jew. For her mother Chava, I can picture Ellen Degeneres. Chava has to be funny.
What is the main conflict in your book? Secondary conflicts?
On the surface, it’s about a private investigator chasing a killer. Under the surface, it’s about a woman learning to relate to her mother as an adult and deal with her feelings of responsibility to others. Eddie has to learn where she draws the line regardless of loyalty.
What tidbits did you leave out of the book?
I left out much of Eddie’s backstory, especially her relationship with her mentor, who committed suicide. More of those details will come out over the course of the series. One thing I’m learning in working on a series is how to have arcs for individual books and across multiple books.
What are you working on next and when do you expect it to be on the shelves?
Two Heads Are Deader Than One, April 15, 2017.
Are you traditionally published or self-published and why?
I’m published with Camel Press. I’m happy to be traditionally published. My publisher has the ability to get me reviewed in places that aren’t available to self-published authors. I can also be carried in any library or bookstore, which sometimes won’t carry self-published authors. I have fantastic editors and staff to handle cover designs, postcards, and other marketing materials.
What former author training/writing have you had, if any?
I have worked in the theater as a playwright for over twenty years.
What conferences have you attended and what value have you found in attending conferences, if any?
I love conferences. I have attended several. It’s a great way to get yourself and your books in front of readers and network with other authors. My favorite is ThrillerFest, put on by International Thriller Writers (they include mysteries, not just thrillers). They have a terrific program for debut authors, which supported me during my first year as an author. I’m currently the Debut Author Program Chair, so I’m thrilled to be able to pay that support forward to the class coming in behind me.
Elena was kind enough to share an excerpt from "One Dead, Two to Go" below:
The loud pounding shouldn’t have come as a surprise. After all, the police weren’t used to people slamming doors in their faces, and that’s who I’d just locked out of my office.
“Eddie? What the—? Open the door.” Chance Parker’s voice hadn’t changed. It was still low, but carried a weight to it like every word he spoke mattered. I leaned against the glass with the hope my heart wouldn’t leap out of my chest and splatter on the ground at my, or worse yet his, feet.
The next rap was a knuckle on the glass, instead of the wood frame of the door. The sharp sound of it pulled me out of my panic, and I wrenched the door back open. Just like ripping off a bandage, best to get it over with quick.
“Sorry about that. I thought I heard the phone ring,” I said, my response inexplicable even to myself.
The woman with Chance looked at me like I might be certifiable; he just looked amused. I’m not sure which expression annoyed me more.
“Mind if we come in? We have a few questions for you,” Chance said, though it was clear he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. The “we” included Detective Kate Jarek, who introduced herself and said, “I understand you two know each other.”
“We do,” I said, looking to Chance to see if he planned to fill me in on what he’d told her about our history.
Chance rubbed the side of his cheek as if checking for stubble. It was an action I remembered well—an unconscious gesture he made when he didn’t know exactly how he wanted to respond. Chance was careful with his words, as if they were valuable and he might accidentally drop one he couldn’t afford to lose.
“Down in Seattle,” he said. His eyes held mine, and for an instant I thought he might say more. Something was there in the softness of his gaze, but that brief moment of connection passed and he glossed over a complicated relationship with that single sentence.
I told myself he couldn’t do anything else. Even if it might have felt good to hear he forgave me, now wasn’t the time. Maybe we could see each other again soon. Alone. And I could find a way to make amends.
“Come on in,” I said, standing aside to let the two of them through the door. I shut it behind them, taking a deep breath before I turned around to face them.
Chance began to pace, his nervous energy filling the room. From the way he averted his gaze from the two of us, I could tell his mind was now focused solely on whatever brought him to my door. I respected that about him. His attention would be directed at you for a moment—intense, all consuming—then he’d turn outward again, as his work took precedence.
Chance was taller than Kate by at least six inches. I could look him in the eye if I were wearing tall shoes, so he stood just over six feet. His hair was brown, but if we were outside, sunlight would glint off red highlights. His eyes were the color of dark chocolate—that satiny look it took on when you melted it on the stove to make some delicious, fattening dessert you knew you shouldn’t eat but couldn’t help yourself from making.
“What can I do for you?” I asked, curious about why a Seattle detective—and my old flame—had appeared on my doorstep up here in Bellingham.
“We’ve got some questions about Deirdre Fox,” Kate said.
That certainly threw me for a loop. I don’t know what I thought they might question me about, but Deirdre Fox wasn’t even in the top ten.
Copyright 2016 Elena Hartwell, Camel Press