I have mystery author Joylene Nowell Butler back for a new interview and to help me kick off a new month. She has a thriller/psychological mystery that releases today titled, Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries.
Joylene is the author of two suspense thrillers, Dead Witness and Broken But Not Dead, and a steampunk collaboration, Break Time. She lives with her husband and their two cats Marbles and Shasta on Cluculz Lake in central British Columbia in the log/stick house they designed and built. In her spare time Joylene teaches T’chi, goes paddling on the lake, and picks wild berries for her smoothie concoctions. She and her husband spend their winters in Bucerias, Nayarit.
Welcome back, Joylene. Please tell us about your current release.
A murder enveloped in pain and mystery...
When Canada's retired Minister of National Defense, Leland Warner, is murdered in his home, the case is handed to Corporal Danny Killian, an aboriginal man tortured by his wife's unsolved murder.
The suspect, 60-year-old Sally Warner, still grieves for the loss of her two sons, dead in a suicide/murder eighteen months earlier. Confused and damaged, she sees in Corporal Killian a friend sympathetic to her grief and suffering and wants more than anything to trust him.
Danny finds himself with a difficult choice—indict his prime suspect, the dead minister's horribly abused wife or find a way to protect her and risk demotion. Or worse, transfer away from the scene of his wife’s murder and the guilt that haunts him...
What inspired you to write this book?
When the prequel to Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries was released, I thought that was the end to the characters. But Sally Warner wouldn't leave me alone. She had a story to tell, which I tried to ignore. She hounded me for over four months, until one day I thought, what the heck, let's see what she has to say. Apparently, she had a lot to say. By the end of the first chapter, I was hooked. It was a challenge writing the story of a woman losing her grip on reality, and I remember being excited and nervous about where she would lead me.
Excerpt from Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries:
After the meeting with the deacons' wives had ended, I finally took the sedative my doctor gave. I'm only now waking up. There is a strange hush, and it envelops me. Light drifts like butterflies across the semidarkness in front of my eyes. My blouse is stuck to my skin. I sit up, reach around, and struggle to untangle it. A moment passes before I remember where I am and why I'm here. Leland is dead. On a slab at the morgue. Alone. In the dark. Cold.
Should I be there?
And do what? Hold his hand?
My first pregnancy, I carried the baby five months. I lost her in the middle of a hot July night, and I woke screaming—the pain, excruciating, as if someone had reached a hand through my back and ripped her out of me. Leland carried me to the car. He cried with me later when the doctor tried to explain why. A beautifully formed, perfect baby girl. Dead. No reason.
"No one's fault," our doctor said. "These things happen."
I looked up through my tears. Leland stood over me. I thought he hated me. "Our sweet baby girl. It's not my fault, Leland. It isn't."
"Of course not—I know that."
Did he? I'm trying to remember what he looked like, what his eyes said.
I was beautiful when we met. He wooed me despite me making it clear that he wasn't my type. I planned to marry a doctor. I didn't say it outright, at least not to Leland; but my girlfriends knew. We were all looking for husbands among the medical students. A lawyer? No thanks.
He kept wooing me. And why not? I was young and full of life. Charming. And funny. Can't tell you how many times friends told me I should do stand-up comedy. Like Carol Burnett, only much prettier.
Their assumptions were sweet, although being prettier than Carol Burnett wouldn’t take much. It doesn’t matter, though, audiences terrify me. I discovered that when I tried out for the part of Maria in the West Side Story, and I clammed up on stage. Which was a shame because I was small, but I had range and volume. I surprised them at the University Theatre.
Leland promised me an exciting life. He knew he would be an important man one day. Maybe even Prime Minister. How could I resist such temptation?
He changed after we lost our baby girl. He was gentle, kind, and thoughtful during the difficult weeks that followed, but slowly the kindness ended. He turned distant. He stopped talking to me. Over time, I might have pushed him away with my nattering. Every chance I had I told him I wasn't to blame. Goodness, as if he would know whether it was my fault or not. Leland was no doctor.
He never accused me. Even when I lost three pregnancies after Bronson, he never accused me of being faulty or broken, or any of the other reasons I invented on my own. When Bronson and Declan died so violently, he never once insinuated or implied I was to blame for their deaths, either. Before they died, yes, he reminded me that my pathetic life was my own doing. After they died, he started talking again. He liked me again. Ohmigosh. This past year was the happiest time of my life. I'm just realizing that now. Is it any wonder I'm confused?
What exciting story are you working on next?
Shattered, a suspense novel set in Vancouver, BC and London, UK. Jason Sinclair witnesses his wife, Brigitte, being run down by a vehicle late one night in Gastown, a few weeks after she had returned from a business trip to England. He soon discovered that she had sent flowers to a British client because she believed her sister had run over his dog. Jason can't rest until he finds out if there's a connection. He hires P.I. Michael Canaday (Dead Witness), and they fly to the UK to investigate whether something happened while Brigitte was there. Jason has no idea what he's up against. These aren't ordinary killers; they know enough to take Canaday out of commission first.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When my second novel was accepted by a publisher. I self-published Dead Witness on at a time when that was still looked upon as pathetic and distasteful. Thankfully, that's no longer the case.
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 work full-time at writing and blogging. I'm an administrative for IWSG (Insecure Writer's Support Group). Besides working on my manuscripts, I write articles for the IWSG newsletter, help with the website, and assist with writing contests that involved publishing the winning short stories each year. I'm also an active member of a Canadian writers group. I try to take weekends off, but so far that hasn't worked. When I'm not writing, I teach T'chi, go for 5 km bike ride every morning, walk on the beach, cook, garden, and watch my favourite show when it airs: Masters of Flip. Twice a month, my husband and I have a date for a movie at the theatre an hour from our home.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write at a desk in our dining room in front of a large window facing south, which looks over Cluculz Lake. There are two stacks of filing tubs beside me. On the top is a small basket where my old cat Marbles sleeps while I'm working. Every once in a while, he'll stretch out a paw and taps me on the arm, a hint he needs pats. I'm left typing one-handed while his purrs sound like a sewing machine until he falls back to sleep. What's amazing is I write my best stuff during those moments.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an actor. I thought it would be fun to pretend to be a cowboy with a six-shooter, or a British detective working from Scotland Yard, or a spy, or a FBI agent, a pathologist, a fighter pilot—I was a tom-girl from the get-go. Acting wasn't in my cards, but that's okay. As a writer, I'm a god; I get to invent the characters and the story.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thanks so much for having me as your guest today, Lisa. As an advocate for authors, you have made a huge difference in our biosphere. Thank you for all you do.
To pay it forward, if any of your readers are struggling writers who need help with writing related issues, please tell them to check out our resources at IWSG. They can also email me with questions at cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca.