It brings me great pleasure to present Judy Copek today. Since it's the day before Thanksgiving, I'll give thanks for all the friends I have who are mystery writers. There couldn't be a better bunch of colleagues in the world. I'll let Judy introduce herself and get to the topic. HAPPY TURKEY DAY, ALL, even if you're missing the usual celebration.
I was born in Montana, raised in Colorado, educated in Texas, and lived in suburban Chicago for years and now even more years in suburban Boston where I became a Red Sox fan, a Patriots fan, and a writer.
An information systems nerd for twenty-plus years, I'm a survivor of Dilbert-like re-engineering projects and other high-tech horrors. In my writing, I like to show technology’s humor and quirkiness along with its scary aspects.
Murder in the Northwoods is my fifth published novel. The research trip to the area was one of the best vacations ever, with scenery, casinos, intriguing discoveries, and tasty North Woods food. I never make up anything that I can borrow from real life like the garage apartment, the character of Reverend Josie, and the cottage by the lake. I moved the geography of Newton, Kansas to the fictional town of DuBois. Writers do strange things to create believable fiction. Y2K (remember the Millennium Bug?) pulls many of the story elements together, as I had worked on a project like the one on the book. My project, of course, had no murders and much less sex. Well, none. Characters misbehaving are fun to write and fun to read.
Why I write standalones.
I began with a series. My first novel, Witness, Be Wary, was bad. I didn’t understand motivation. Enough said, but I found some characters I liked. This novel was written so long ago that agents answered queries promptly with personalized letters.
That year my husband was invited to a conference in Singapore, and this, too, was so long ago that a business class ticket came with a free companion ticket. I explored the city and took photographs. We went on to spend a few days in Hong Kong. On the long flight home, I read the Singapore Airlines magazine, including a tiny blurb that the 5th International Computer Security Conference would meet in Singapore on a certain date.
|Durian Seller in Hong Kong|
Computer security! That was the occupation of the sleuth in my failed first novel. My brain went crazy. I could write a book set at the conference in Singapore and then move it to my husband’s home town in Germany. Characters appeared, along with three from the first book. Fragments of plot flew at me like kamikazes. Finally, we travelled to Germany. I sat in the busy town square and discovered more characters. My nephew took me on a pub crawl. I did research at the library. This was so much fun. And the book didn’t sell.
My problem was that my main character was, well, no better than she should be. And married. When I began writing I researched all the possible problems a sleuth might have. Drugs, family, drinking, promiscuity, ex-con, you name it. And no writer had yet glommed onto the “A” word. There was a reason for this but I was too dense to grasp it. One could not publish a series with a bad girl sleuth. No one would touch it. Still dense, I wrote three more books in the series, one set in the Baltic, the last at the Burning Man Festival and one set in the North Woods. Same sleuth. Same issues. I self-pubbed The Shadow Warriors. This was back in the day when you hung your head if you committed such an outré act.
Then, THE LIGHT DAWNED. I took each novel, changed the characters, the setting, the sleuths backstory, and so on. One book went to a small press, one was “licensed” by the Burning Man Festival, one sat in my computer. I gussied up the “Northwoods” novel with new backstory, and everything except the conflicted sleuth. She was still there. And finally, I had a publisher!
That’s why I write standalones.
Murder in the Northwoods will debut on December 1st. Level Best is the publisher
A savvy cyber-sleuth teams up with a hunky homicide cop to route corporate miscreants and to solve a murder. Murder in the North Woods is an amateur sleuth mystery. When she arrives in the town of DuBois, Wisconsin, to determine who is sabotaging an unpopular business project, Laura Goode discovers her only contact is now a corpse. Gar Morris, information officer at Great Northern Shoe Company, was a local lothario whose killer could be anyone from an enraged husband to a bitter factory worker whose job is heading overseas. Along with murder, office politics thwart Laura’s mission to find out who is sabotaging the project. Adding more complications to her life, boyfriend Jack, a cop, and husband Taylor, with more money than sensitivity, appear unannounced. Who needs these distractions when you’re swanning from boardroom to bar room, trolling for bass, hunting hackers, and rescuing your kidnapped cat? A nude biker’s club and the whitewater raft trip from hell provide a thrilling climax. You’ll have to read the novel to discover how everything works out.