I'm happy to welcome Heather Weidner to the blog today. Heather writes the Delanie Fitzgerald Mystery series. THE TULIP SHIRT MURDERS is the second book in the series and was released last month.
Kathy: In THE TULIP SHIRT MURDERS Private investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds look into music bootlegging. When I think of bootlegging I immediately think of the What's Happening episode with the Doobie Brothers. What made you think about bootlegging for this book?
HW: I live in Chesterfield County, and all the police officers wear green uniforms. When we first moved here, I thought there were a lot of forest rangers. I asked once why they were green (most other departments are blue or black). They said that in the early days of the 1900s, they went with the revenuers out in the woods, and the green was good camouflage. I am also a part of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia. We had a guest law enforcement officer from the Alcohol Beverage and Control Board, and he talked about how stills were still prevalent in rural areas, so that gave me the idea to have the Emerson Brothers bootleg more than stolen CDs.
Kathy: I've always been interested in Roller Derby. Have you ever competed? Or watched a match?
HW: I am fascinated by it too. I would love to go to a match. When I was little, it would be on TV on Sunday mornings. I would watch Roller Derby before we went to church.
Kathy: What first drew you to humorous mysteries?
HW: I have always loved mysteries, and the humorous ones were always my favorite. I love Janet Evanovich, Donna Andrews, and Sparkle Abbey, to name a few. (My life is more like a SitCom than a drama, so I think I’m always drawn to comedies.)
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
HW: All of my novels and short stories are mysteries (traditional, PI, and/or female sleuth). I was a technical writer early in my IT career, so I’ve written lots of user manuals and how-tos, but they’re not as much fun as the mysteries.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
HW: I write the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries. She’s a spunky, sassy Private Investigator who gets into way more trouble than I do. I enjoy writing (and reading) fast-paced mysteries with a humorous edge. Delanie has no fear, and she often gets herself in (and out of) sticky situations. I’m currently working on the third book in this series, and the first book in a new cozy mystery series.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
HW: Delanie is my favorite because I think of her as a grown up Nancy Drew, and I love to write about her adventures. But Margaret and Chaz are also favorites. Margaret is Delanie’s partner Duncan’s English bulldog, or the log with legs. She’s not much security, but she’s good company. And she rules the Falcon Investigations office. Chaz is the sleazy strip club owner who hired Delanie in the first book to get some dirt on the mayor. When the mayor ended up dead in front of his “gentleman’s club,” Delanie had to spend her summer trying to clear Chaz’s name. He’s sleazy, rude, and has the worst table manners, but he grows on you after a while. He’s fun to write. And he’s decided to run for mayor in THE TULIP SHIRT MURDERS, so he’ll definitely be back in book three.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
HW: I met a female private investigator at a Sister in Crime – Central Virginia presentation, and she talked about her adventures. I liked the idea that my character could be close to law enforcement, but not a police officer, and she had the freedom to investigate and follow up leads that a normal person wouldn’t have. And I like to think of Delanie as a grown up Nancy Drew. I have loved mysteries since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. As a young reader, I adored Nancy’s freedom. She had a car. She did things that other girls didn’t, and she solved crimes that adults couldn’t. She influenced generations of women from the 1930s to the present with her spunk and enduring appeal. Delanie is my homage to Nancy Drew.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
HW: I have wanted to be a writer since I was in middle school. I love to read all kinds of books, but I’m always attracted to mysteries. It seemed like the perfect fit. I also joined Sisters in Crime a few years back, and they are so supportive of mystery readers and writers. They helped me along my writing journey to publication.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
HW: That’s a tough one. I’m going to stick with the mystery theme. I’m going to go with Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Mildred A. Wirt Benson. And we would have a lively conversation about all things mystery and thriller. Poe is considered to be the father of the mystery. He lived and worked here in Richmond, VA, so I’d have lots of questions about his writing (and his mysterious death in Baltimore). Agatha Christie, one of the bestselling novelists of all time, has been a favorite for many years. She had a fascinating life in addition to all her writing credits. I’d like to learn more about her real life mystery when she disappeared for 11 days in December 1926. I love all incarnations of Sherlock Holmes, so I’ve invited Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I want to learn more about his sleuth and sidekick. I’d also like to know more about his feud with Harry Houdini. And my last guest would be Mildred A. Wirt Benson. She wrote 23 of the first 30 Nancy Drew mysteries under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene. She wanted her sleuth to be spunky and not “namby pamby” like some of the traditional “girl” novels of the time. I want to thank her for giving us a sleuth that has been an inspiration for so many through the decades.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
HW: I just finished Janet Evanovich’s HARDCORE TWENTY-FOUR. Right now, I’m reading Lee Child’s THE MIDNIGHT LINE. My TBR (to be read) pile is huge. But there’s always something good to read.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
HW: My husband rebuilds classic Mustangs, and right now he’s working on a rebuild of a Triumph Spitfire. The car thing is his hobby, but I get to go to the car shows and outings. I love to read and write. We like to kayak in the warmer weather. And I love to take pictures during our travels.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
HW: Chocolate (all writers need chocolate for plotting), cheese, bacon, and dog treats. The latter is for my two crazy Jack Russell terriers. I have to bribe them with treats if I want to take their picture.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
HW: I’m working on a cozy pet novella project that will come out next year. I’m also working on the first book in a new series, and that is also a cozy mystery. And I’m writing the third book in the Delanie series.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
HW: I love talking to readers about books and mysteries. I get to meet so many neat people on social media and at book events. It is incredible fun!
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