Monday, December 10, 2012

Next Big Thing

This week I am honored to participate in the Next Big Thing Blog Chain, featuring authors from across the United States, Canada and beyond. I’ve enjoyed connecting with authors such as Colorado mystery writer Pat Bertram, whose current big thing is working on an online serial with other writers.I was invited to join by A.F Stewart  of Nova Scotia, who is working on a steam punk horror story set in Halifax.
      We've been asked to answer a set of questions about our latest project, which for me is the December 1 release of One Shoe Off. This is the second book in the Jordan Daily News Mystery series. Like the first book, Great News Town, it is set in the pre-internet 1980s at a  small newspaper in a fictional Chicago suburb.

What is your working title of your book?
One Shoe Off
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Molly Zelko, a real-life, crime-fighting newspaper editor, disappeared in Joliet, Illinois, in 1957, leaving  her shoes behind as a sign she was nabbed by gangsters.  Her story is legendary in Joliet, and I became familiar with it when I worked at the Joliet Herald-News in the 1980s.  I wondered what would happen if the spirit of a powerful journalist from the past were to haunt the 1985 newsroom in my fictional Chicago suburb.
What genre does your book fall under?
One Shoe Off is a mystery/thriller. Zelda Machinko, the missing newspaper editor, tells her chapters in a gritty, first-person, present-tense voice, with an appreciative nod to Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane and all Noir mysteries.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Zelda tells me (don’t your characters talk to you?) that she should be played by Liz Taylor. Since Zelda disappeared in 1956, she doesn’t know that Liz isn’t around anymore. But I like to think Glenn Close would do a fabulous job. She's got grit and glamour, a tough combination. Investigative reporter Duke looks like a young Tom Selleck, with a bit of George Clooney’s dry wit. City editor Josie is a tomboy spitfire, looks like Ellen DeGeneres but tiny like Kristen Chenowith.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
As the spirit of a long-missing newspaper editor reveals her tale, the people and places of the past intertwine with the passions and problems of the present, the gritty gangsters of the 1950s collide with the government graft of the 1980s.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
One Shoe Off is self-published.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’ve been toying with this story for several years, but just started writing in earnest about a year ago.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I love the series writing of Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, Walter Mosely, Michael Connelly, and many others in which the development of the characters and their continuing relationships is as important to each book as solving the mystery. 
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The whole Jordan Daily News Series is inspired by my career in journalism, but this book especially is dedicated to the journalists I worked with over the past 40 years and their unflinching devotion to truth and justice.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
My books work on many different levels. If you just want a fast read and a satisfying story, it’s there. But if you like literary symbolism, you’ll find that as well. In this case, for instance, the title can be taken at face value. Zelda kicked off one shoe. But on a deeper level it describes a story in which everything is “off” just a little. People don’t do what’s expected, things don’t work out exactly right.

As part of the December launch of One Shoe Off, you can go to Goodreads to register for a giveaway. Five copies will be given away at the end of the month. Also at the end of the month, the Kindle version will have free downloads Dec. 26-30.

This blog chain will continue next week as more authors post about their latest projects. Let me introduce you to West Michigan career counselor and author Sue Maciak  and Illinois vampire romance writer Denise Unland. Click on their names to check their blogs now, and be sure to check back next week to read about their Next Big Thing.


  1. The book sounds great, I love a good noir mystery.

  2. Thanks, I'm intrigued by your steam punk horror as well. Visited Halifax once and loved it. I'll have to watch for when your book becomes available.

  3. Thanks, I'm intrigued by your steam punk horror as well. Visited Halifax once and loved it. I'll have to watch for when your book becomes available.