BG: I got my start writing as a lark. The Telluride Times Journal, a newspaper that is no longer in publication, had a competition for the best skiing accident story. I had a particularly amusing anecdote which I wrote up and sent into them. When I got the newspaper a couple weeks later I was looking at the winning entry of the contest and didn’t actually realize until I got halfway through it that it was mine.
Because we have a second home in the area, I got the bright idea to write a column about second home ownership. It was a humorous column and I had a lot of fun doing it. After a couple of years of this,my husband and I reconnected with an old friend, Doreen Thistle, who happens to be an editor and literary agent. Steve, my husband, sent her some of my columns and she asked whether I had ever considered writing fiction.
I think everyone who loves books dreams about writing the Great American novel. I never had any illusions that I could write the Great American Novel. But I thought I might be able to spin a reasonably good dime-novel murder mystery. I suppose I have always been something of the storyteller, particularly when my children were little. And I have always been a teacher and had a knack for bringing in concepts that don’t seem to be terribly similar and making them work together. I suppose that’s a kind of storytelling as well.
And I have always enjoyed murder mysteries from the time I first read Sherlock Holmes. I had actually had an idea knocking about my head for probably 10 years and decided to give it a try. Doreen, now my literary agent, asked me to send a first chapter. I did, she liked it, and she coaxed the rest of the book right out of me. I wrote nights and weekends for a year or so getting Jane’s story down on paper. Doreen was very much the midwife.
BG: This will give you an idea of how incredibly clueless I am. When I first had a friend read the earliest drafts of Dying for Revenge, he commented on how much of me there was in Jane and I was dumbfounded. Jane is something of a smart alec, as I am. Certainly many of her expressions are mine. And there was something of a spiritual journey involved in writing the book. It started out one way and ended quite another and I worked through a lot of my own thoughts, ideas, and I suppose my own injuries as I wrote about them through Jane’s eyes. But she is a totally different woman. Really. She’s smarter, she has more faith, she has more children, and she’s a lot braver than I am. But of course, we share a background in medicine and law, and apparently she talks a lot like I do.
BG: This is going to sound odd, but I haven’t read any novels recently apart from all the work I’ve been doing on my own! Most of my leisure reading tends to be philosophy, theology, bioethics, or cosmology these days. I would recommend “The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos” by Brian Schwimme. It isn’t a novel but it is wonderful. One of my longtime favorites is “Grandmother and the Priests” by Taylor Caldwell–I love her detailed and visual style and her leisurely and entirely Celtic way of telling stories. And like any good Southerner, I love anything by Flannery O’Connor. Ian Rankin’s “Knots and Crosses” I liked very much; his character development is splendid, and I love his use of language. And the story is something more than just the mystery, which I appreciate in a good novel. His books tend to be, at least for me, about relationships as much as they are about situations.
EGH: Most of the setting of the novel is Telluride, Colorado. Why did you choose this setting for the first book in the series? Will the other books take place in Colorado or will there be other settings?
BG: I chose Telluride because it seemed to work. I suppose it was because I was working for the paper there at the time. Anyway it’s a lovely town, we have enjoyed being second homeowners there for many years. It is a quirky community that provided the right kind of infrastructure for the story. The next books in the series will take place in different places. Jane has children scattered throughout the world, Eoin is Irish, and it seems like a good idea to move the stories around. Telluride, like Cabot Cove, is too small to sustain too many murder mysteries! Even Jessica Fletcher had to go out and about.
This sounds wonderful! I love a good mystery, and I’m always up for an adventure. Plus, you had me at Eoin is Irish. Thanks for having the giveaway. I enjoyed reading the interview.
This is a great giveaway! I am a big mystery fan and would love to read Dying for Revenge! Thank you for sponsoring this, Ellen!
Jean, congrats, you’ve won the print book! Please send your mailing address!