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
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.
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
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