Friday, March 14, 2014

Interview with cozy mystery author Julie Anne Lindsey

I'm happy to introduce today's guest, cozy mystery author Julie Anne Lindsey who's here to give us a glimpse into her writing world. The focus is her newest mystery, Murder Comes Ashore.

Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Julie lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three small children. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world.

Welcome, Julie. Please tell us about your current release.
Murder by the Seaside is the sequel to Murder Comes Ashore, the debut in my cozy mystery series from Carina Press. It’s a quick paced murder mystery, complete with laughs, love, and a gorgeous island setting.

Book blurb:
Patience Price is just settling into her new life as resident counselor on Chincoteague Island when things take a sudden turn for the worse. A collection of body parts have washed up on shore and suddenly nothing feels safe on the quaint island.

Patience instinctively turns to current crush and FBI special agent Sebastian for help, but former flame Adrian is also on the case, hoping that solving the grisly crime will land him a win in the upcoming mayoral election.

When the body count rises and Patience's parents are brought in as suspects, Patience is spurred to begin her own investigation. It's not long before she starts receiving terrifying threats from the killer, and though she's determined to clear her family's name, it seems the closer Patience gets to finding answers, the closer she comes to being the killer's next victim.

What inspired you to write this book?
This series was inspired by a combination of three things. It started (years before I knew I could write anything longer than a grocery list) when I visited Chincoteague, Virginia with my family.

The island got under my skin and played a role in my daydreams long afterward. It still does. My heroine was inspired by my real life bestie who actually does work at the FBI in human resources as a recruiter and she is hilarious. Finally, the Katy Perry song, The One That Got Away, played a part in the fact I included two possible heroes for my heroine. I couldn’t stop wondering about those lost high school loves and heartbreaks. What if he came back? Worse, what if you couldn’t decide whether to kiss him or shove an ice cream in his nose? The novel concept already included a secret agent love interest, but that One That Got Away character needed a place too, so I kept them both. I mean, more men vying for her attention meant more confliction and chaos. I like chaos (as long as it’s not MY chaos LOL) So, I kept him. Them.

Put those three inspirations together and Boom! The Patience Price, Counselor at Large series was born.

In this scene, my heroin, Patience, is warned away from the beach (a crime scene where a crew is seeking evidence of a murder – hair, fingernails, body parts…). Patience isn’t interested in leaving until she helps.

“Look.” I smacked Sebastian’s arm.
Sebastian turned to look and I darted past him. His footfalls kept pace with mine, allowing me to maintain the lead when he could easily have passed me. I waded into the grasses, waving my arms overhead to keep the gulls at bay.
“Told you I could help.” In a moment of gloating, I lost sight of the evidence. A seagull honked and dove at me. I jumped back on instinct and fell into the sand. A wilted reed of grass rammed up my nose and I screamed. Sneezing bug eggs and cooties, I scrambled to my feet and chased the offending bird across the sand. Two more birds joined him in the air and attacked. Whatever they all wanted, it was flesh colored and I wanted it too.
Sebastian shoved two fingers in his lips and whistled. Fargas jogged toward me, a look of shock on his face. Yeah, yeah. How’d I get here? I pointed to the sky. “They’ve got something.”
The birds circled in the air, stretching the thing in their beaks and flapping with vigor.
“Should I shoot them?” Fargas called to Sebastian.
A mob of birders appeared from the trees like magic. “No!”
“What the hell?” Sebastian frowned.
“They were probably here all night looking for owls or something.” I rolled my eyes.
Fargas unholstered his side arm and the birders started closing in, cell phones at arm’s length, digitally capturing the chaos.
“Do not shoot that bird!” A wild scream broke out above the other voices. A woman in hip waders and a dirty shirt charged Fargas.
I tossed shells at the birds circling overhead. “I can’t hit them!” Frustration burst from my chest in a growl. “Stop!” I screamed at the birds.
Fargas toppled into the sand beside me, crushed beneath the rampaging woman. Her giant binoculars bounced off his forehead and he went limp.
“Aw, hell.” Sebastian groaned. He scooped a handful of rocks from the sand and pulled his arm back.
A shower of feathers burst above me and a bird fell from the sky. The others squawked complaints, but headed out to sea. I ran for the grounded bird and yanked the skin from his beak. He flapped his wings and waddled in a daze across the sand.
“You monster! You hit that bird with a rock! Murderer!” The woman climbed off Fargas and headed for Sebastian, who dropped his remaining rocks in favor of cuffs and badge. She raised her fists and Sebastian spun her around, cuffing her and reciting her rights.
I flipped the fleshy prize in my hands, struggling to make sense of what the birds had worked so hard to keep. I tugged and squeezed the thing, looking past the damage done from multiple bird beaks. Realization dawned. My tummy lurched.
“Ahh!” The scream that ripped loose from my chest was Oscar-worthy. I dropped the thing and ran in a tiny circle, unsure which way to go for bleach and a fast hand-removal surgery. I rubbed my palms over the seat of my pants until they hurt.
Sebastian finished reading Waders her rights.
A line of EMTs-turned-beachcombers surrounded Fargas. One checked his vitals. One followed the waddling bird and radioed the park ranger for assistance. We had two head injuries, six EMTs and no ambulance. I marched in big, knee-to-my-chest steps, trying not to think of the thing I would never forget. Ever. Ever. Ever.
I covered my eyes with one hand. The one without lifelong cooties. With the other hand, I pointed to the item saved from the seagulls. “The victim is not a woman!”

What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now I’m finishing edits on book three in this series. I’m 25K words into a contemporary YA romance with gypsies and murder. I have a YA fantasy ready for submissions. And I’m working up a new cozy series with a modern-day geek-chic heroine. Busy. Busy. Busy. My mind is never quiet.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started thinking of myself as a writer after my first novella was published in 2012. That was the moment the light bulb came on and I realized…maybe I can really do this!

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m a stay at home wife and mom to an awesome husband and three small kids ages 10, 8 and 5. The older kids are competitive swimmers so we spend roughly 2-3 hours a night at the pool, more when the youngest has a lesson before or after the older kids’ practice. I do a lot of writing and plotting at the pool. When I started writing, my kids were 5, 2 ½ and newborn. Life was much different then! LOL

This is the first year since I started writing 5 years ago that all three kids are in school all day, so I try to write as much as possible during school hours. My goal is to be available to my family when they’re home. Sometimes events or deadlines make that impossible, but it’s a goal I shoot for and I lose sleep as needed to keep the balance. I want my kids to see me working hard to chase my dream and be inspired by the effort. I don’t want them to remember I was never available to them because writing consumed me. Which it would if I let it.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure. I think most writers are quirky and we probably all do the same things. I’ve said before “Writer” should be included on the DSM-IV (manual of mental disorders). I drink copious amounts of coffee, sleep very little and stare unabashedly at people I find interesting (which is most). I talk to strangers and ask lots of questions. I’ve had my kids tie me up and gag me to try out escape plans for my heroines and for the sake of authenticity as I describe related sensations. Are those quirks or standard author behaviors?

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A mom. I always wanted to be a mom. Stay home and plan parties, shuffle kids to events, volunteer in the community. I wanted to live in a cozy home with bright colors on the walls and family photos all around. I am blessed to have all those things today. Writing is kind of the surprise icing on my cake because I’d never considered becoming an author until baby number three came into my life.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If you’re a writer feeling discouraged. Don’t fret. Keep writing. I think writing is more a calling than a career choice. If you’re a writer, don’t stop. The world needs more amazing books. Yours could be the one to change the world. We need you!

Readers, I’m humbled you’re still reading this interview! If you’re looking for a fun new read, I hope you’ll give Murder Comes Ashore a try.

Ways to connect:

Thank you for being my guest today, Lindsey!

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