Monday, February 14, 2011

Julia Spencer-Fleming, Guest Blogger

It really is a pleasure to welcome award-winning mystery author, Julia Spencer-Fleming, today.  It's been three years since the last book in her Reverend Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alystyne series, and we've all been impatiently waiting.  But, three lucky winners won't have to wait much longer.  Details on the giveaway later.  Now, I'd like to welcome Julia, author of the forthcoming book, One Was a Soldier.

Why write mysteries?

When readers ask, I usually tell them I write mysteries because crime fiction today has greater breadth and depth and quality than any other type of novel being published. And it’s true--crime fiction deals with all times, all places, every variation of the human condition, every social ill and grace note of redemption. It’s practiced by writers fanatical about the sometimes-forgotten craft of storytelling; writers who labor like kobolds in the mines over plot and characterization, setting and language. I revel in being one of them. But that’s not the real reason I write mysteries.

When I’m hanging with writer friends, I’ll sometimes say I write mysteries because they’re one of the few genres in which an author can reliably make a living. According to Booksense, mysteries account for 40% of the fiction purchased in this country. Mystery lovers flock to conferences to meet with authors and talk about the books they love. Libraries consistently report mysteries among their best-circulating collections. In an economy that's taken the axe to many independent bookstores, mystery booksellers from coast to coast are thriving by supplying their customers with the newest fix for their jones.  But truthfully, that’s not the real reason I write mysteries.

Just between you and me, I’ll give you the real reason: sheer bloody-mindedness. I started a science fiction novel once. There was a dead body on the floor by the end of the first chapter. Another time, I made a lot of character notes for what I hoped would be a literate study on the effect of materialism and constant striving on a modern marriage. But then the husband took out a contract on the wife, who ended up on the lam after he was whacked by mistake. Once on a book tour, I stayed with a lovely family in a quintessentially middle-American town in Ohio. They have nine adult children, and I thought, wouldn’t a novel based on them make a delightful reading experience about enduring family bonds? Then I started to think, what if one of the daughters was killed? And her husband was the prime suspect? What if one of the brothers was a police officer, being kept off the case? And what if someone else in the picture-perfect family had wanted her dead...?

So that’s it. The reason I write mysteries: no matter what the character and situation I conjure up, sooner or later, somebody gets plugged. Thank heavens I have the outlet, because who knows what might happen to a murder-minded author who can’t keep killing people on the page? Hmmm...something to think about.


Julia Spencer-Fleming is the Agatha and Anthony-award-winning author of the upcoming One Was A Soldier, the seventh Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery. You can find her at Facebook, on Twitter, and at her Reader Space.

One Was A Soldier is available for preorder at: Amazon      Barnes & Noble      Books-A-Million Borders      Powell's Books and your locally owned independent bookstore.

***** 
Thank you, Julia.  I think we're all quite glad you turned to mystery writing.  And, maybe your husband and other family members are too!


The release date for One Was a Soldier is actually April 26.  But, Julia was kind enough to send me three Advanced Readers Copies to give away right now.  So, three of you will have the chance to win it, and read it early!  So, you need to email me at lholstine@yahoo.com. Your subject heading should read, "Win One Was a Soldier."  The body should include your name and mailing address.  Entries only from the U.S. please.

This contest will end Thursday night, Feb. 17 at 6 PM MT, when I usually end my contests.  So, you have four days to get your entries in to be one of a small group who can find out right now what's going on with Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne.   Good luck!



19 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Julia, I love your reason for writing mysteries! Ha! Isn't it funny how easy it is to include a dead body in a plot? Best wishes with your upcoming release.

Lesa said...

I told my sister last night, Elizabeth, that I loved the conclusion of Julie's blog. Isn't it terrific?

Linda Leszczuk said...

I love this series. I was doing a disaster assignment with the Red Cross when I Shall Not Want was relesed. When I got my first off-duty day (after 10 days), I made my way to a bookstore to get it. Sat up reading all night.

Lois Fleming said...

I want your readers to know your murerous inclinations are not genetic....

Lesa said...

Linda,

I know Julia will be pleased that you headed straight to a bookstore to get that book. And, then staying up after your assignment. That's a fan.

jenny milchman said...

Julia, I wish you could have been part of this panel on genre versus literary fiction that I moderated. We explored exactly this question of crime fiction's place amongst books in general. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and thanks Lesa, for posting!

Lesa said...

Lois,

That's so funny. So, other family members don't have that tendency?

Lesa said...

Wasn't it terrific, Jenny? And, I totally agree with Julia's comments about mystery fiction. Now, I'm not so sure about that motivation part.

Julia Spencer-Fleming said...

My poor mother was so distraught she typo'd "murder." Since she still copy edits my books on a volunteer basis, I assure you, it is a rarity.

True story: I was defrosting one of those 3-pound packages of ground beef in the microwave to get dinner started. I failed to see, when I took it out, that the plastic wrap was torn. Beef "jus", aka blood, poured onto the floor.

I slung the meat into the sink and ripped a handful of paper towels off the roll. When my husband and kids walked through the door (he did the after school pick-up)I was kneeling next to a huge puddle of blood.

"Mom!" my eldest said. "WHAT are you doing?"

I gave it a good long beat before replying, "Research."

Lesa said...

Oh, I love that story, Julia! And, I'm afraid there isn't really anything I can do about your mother's comment, except delete it. And, I don't want to, because it is a funny comment coming from your mother. So, please just tell her you stuck up for her, and we know it was just a typo.

Julia Spencer-Fleming said...

Okay, but don't let her talk you into the Advance Reader Copy give-away. She already has one.

Lesa said...

OK, Julia. If I see your mother's name come up in the random number generator, she won't win.

Ingrid King said...

I really enjoyed this post - I'm a huge fan of this series, and I can't wait for the new one to come out!

Donna Fletcher Crow said...

Great list of reasons, Julia. You should add, appropriately modestly, "Because it gives my readers so much pleasure." Keep it up!

Donis Casey said...

I've been holding my breath for three years waiting for this book. Thank goodness it's about out - I'm getting pretty blue.
Hi, Julia, and hi to Ross, too.

Lesa said...

Wasn't this a fun post, Ingrid? Add me to the list of fans who have been waiting to read the next book.

Lesa said...

Donna,

You're right. Julia's books do bring us so much pleasure, don't they?

Lesa said...

My gosh, Donis. I wish I'd known your recent health problems stemmed from holding your breath for three years. That's hard to do. I'm glad Julia has finally rescued you.

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