I’m delighted to welcome Heather Weidner who has a brand new mystery series coming out next month. As she explains, she has an excellent law enforcement expert to consult whenever she needs to—her dad!
Below are her responses to my interview questions followed by her bio and contact links:
First off, congratulations on your upcoming October release, the beginning of a new cozy series, the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries. Can you tell us about your new series?
I’m so excited about VINTAGE TRAILERS AND BLACKMAILERS, the first mystery in my new, cozy series. It’s set in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Fern Valley, Virginia. Just in time for the glamping craze (glamourous camping), Jules revitalizes her family’s traditional campground by adding refurbished vintage trailers and tiny houses as posh options for vacationers. When a long-term guest, clad only in his red satin unmentionables, is found dead in the woods, Jules and her sidekick, Bijou, the Jack Russell Terrier, have to solve the crime before it ruins her business.
You’re also the author of the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series set in Virginia. Can you tell us about that series, and your decision to begin a new one?
The Delanie Fitzgerald series is set in Central Virginia. She’s a sassy private investigator who gets into way more trouble than I do. She always runs toward danger and often has to spend time trying to figure out how to extricate herself from sticky situations. There are currently three books in this series, and the fourth, MALE REVUES AND SUBTERFUGE, comes out in 2022. I enjoy writing this series. Delanie has all kinds of adventures in which she’s encountered an art heist, an 80s rock singer living incognito in rural Virginia, larping (live action role playing), a roller derby team, a boa constrictor, a comicon, and a gaggle of drag queens.
I have always loved cozy mysteries, so I’m so excited to start a new series, set in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
You earned an MA in American literature and have held a number of jobs, ranging from technical writer to college professor to IT manager. What led to your decision to focus on mystery writing?
I have loved mysteries since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. I grew up on 1970s Saturday morning cartoons, and the mysteries were my favorites. I am also a CK (cop’s kid). I thought everyone talked about murder and mayhem at the dinner table. It wasn’t until I got to college that I found out that this was not normal dinner conversation.
In my work life, I manage the quality assurance/software testing team, and that is like solving mysteries every day when you to root out or recreate defects in software applications. So, while I don’t get to solve crimes, I do get to eradicate (computer) bugs.
You’ve described the sleuths in your mysteries as “Sassy” and “Southern.” Is that consistent with your own personality?
I write what I know. I’m a native Virginian, and I think “sassy” is part of the Southern tradition. All of my sleuths are spunky and willing to poke around and ask questions. While they all have a little bit of me in them, they are definitely alter-egos. If I found a dead body, I would run screaming. They all run toward danger, sometimes without thinking of the consequences.
Do you think growing up as a “cop’s kid” has given you a special insight into crime that’s been helpful to you as a mystery writer?
My dad served on the Virginia Beach Police force for 46 years. One of my first jobs as a kid was to pick up shell casings at the range. In the 70s, his SWAT team needed practice bullets, so we melted down my old crayons, and I learned to make “bullets.”
Even though he’s retired, he is still my best law enforcement resource. There are just some things you don’t want to Google like, “Hey, Dad, how long does a body usually stay submerged? What caliber would create a hole this big?” He has so many great stories of his adventures through the years.
First responders will always be my heroes. They go to work every day, not knowing if they’ll come home. And they get right back up and do it again the next day.
And never watch crime shows with a cop. He ruined CHiPs for me. There’s a constant running commentary about what’s not real or couldn’t happen.
Tell us about your writing process: Do you consider yourself a plotter, pantser, or someone in-between?
I’m a hybrid. I usually start with an outline, and then when I start writing, one of the characters goes off on his/her own adventure. I’ve found though that if I do take the time to write out an outline, I don’t get bogged down in the saggy middle of the book. It also makes marketing materials and synopses easier to write.
What advice would you give to aspiring mystery writers?
If you really want to be a writer, don’t give up. It’s a business, and it’s a tough business. You need perseverance, grit, and motivation to keep going. Writers need to build their author platforms, network, hone their craft, and be willing to listen to critiques and suggestions.
What are you currently working on writing-wise?
During the pandemic/work-from-home time, I committed my normal commute time to writing. And if you write every day, you will be productive. I finished the latest Delanie novel, the three Jules books, and I’ve started a new series set in a Christmas Shoppe.
When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
My husband and I share our house with two, crazy Jack Russell Terriers. The brother-sister duo like to go on long walks around the lake, go for rides, chase squirrels, and mooch food. We also like to take the kayaks out on the lake when it’s not scorching hot.
Pre-plague, we liked to travel and see new places. Hopefully, we’ll get back to that soon.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your novels—or questions I didn’t ask that you wish I had?
If you want to be a writer, find your crew. Writing is a solitary trek, and your supporters, advisors, and cheerleaders are worth their weight in gold. I am so grateful for my writer friends who share their time and experience, encourage me, and celebrate the victories.
Great advice, and thanks for visiting today, Heather!
Through the years, Heather Weidner has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers is the first in her cozy mystery series, the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries. She also writes the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series set in Virginia.
Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Deadly Southern Charm, and Murder by the Glass, and her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series.
She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Sisters in Crime – Chessie, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.
Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com
Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ