Monday, March 30, 2015

Stone Cottages and a Good Manicure

Award-winning author Elizabeth J. Duncan will launch Slated for Death, the sixth book in the Penny Brannigan series set in North Wales, on April 14.These novels feature local artist and manicurist Penny as an amateur sleuth who in the tradition of cosy mysteries, solves the murders in an idyllic village setting amid interesting characters.

“Readers who enjoy classic English mysteries will find lots to love… Duncan excels at bringing her characters to life.”   Mystery Scene Magazine
Welcome Elizabeth, to Jamie Tremain’s blog.
Thank you, Jamie.
You started your career as a journalist. The switch to writing cosy mysteries and fiction was a jump. Was this a burning desire and are you glad you made the transition?
 I had never had any desire to write fiction until one day an idea occurred to me and I started writing The Cold Light of Mourning, the first book in the Penny Brannigan series. I’m very glad I made the transition. Journalism was right for me at an earlier time and being an author is perfect for me at this stage of my life. And journalism is the perfect start to whatever kind of a writing life you choose.
Your books are set in North Wales. What is your connection to this beautiful part of the world? Is this your birth country or do you just like the milder winters and less snow?
I have no family connection to Wales, but I do love it. The scenery is stunning and it lends itself beautifully to my novels. By a strange series of fortuitous events I found myself in a Welsh market town in 2005 and thought if I ever write a mystery, which I’m not going to, this would be the perfect town to set it in. And eighteen months later, I was back in that town, with the first book well underway. I now spend four months a year in Llandudno, and yes, winters are much milder. I didn’t see any snow this year except at a distance on the tops of the mountains.
Your books have interesting covers and I especially like the one on Slated for Death. Who does your cover art? ?
Toronto artist Doug Martin. He held an exhibition in 2014 and I was able to buy the original paintings for every book cover. I love them as art and because they represent something wonderful in my life.

Slated for Death will be released in April. What can you tell us about it?
Slated for Death is set against the backdrop of the once-great Welsh slate mining industry. A painful family secret, with its long simmering resentments, leads to two murders and a climax at a St. David’s Day concert being held down a slate mine.
Will we see more of Penny Brannigan mysteries or do you have something else in the works?
 I’m writing the seventh book now. In this one, Antiques Roadshow comes to town. Someone discovers that some sketches from her days at the old Liverpool Regional School of Art are worth a small fortune and someone else discovers a body.
I also have a second series which will launch in November, 2015. This one features Charlotte Fairfax, costume designer with the Catskills Shakespeare Theater Company and is set in upstate New York.  
If Penny Brannigan were to be brought to life for TV or film, who would you like to see portray her and why?
I’ll leave the casting to the experts, but I’d like her to be an age appropriate Canadian actress.
What do you find challenging in the writing process?
Getting started. I am a terrible procrastinator. 
Which writer has been the biggest influence and inspired you most in your own writing?
I can’t really narrow it down to one. I’ve been a great reader all my life and I’m sure every author has influenced me in some way or another.
 Are you a plotter or do you write by the seat of your pants?
Both, really. I start out knowing what the story is about, who did it and why, and then I let events unfold as one thing leads to an another. So in the end, I suppose I write like a reader, looking for twists and surprises.
You have won awards for your writing and been nominated many times. How important is this to an author?
Winning an award got me published. In 2008 I won the Malice Domestic St Martin’s unpublished first novel award that included a publishing contract with a major American publisher. That was the beginning. In May, 2013 I won the Bony Blithe award. I had been thinking about packing in the day job so this award confirmed this was the right time to do that. Winning an award validates an author’s work. It says people who know about this kind of writing believe in you and your work – you are on the right track … keep going. It sets you apart.
Thanks, Elizabeth, for sharing your writing life with us. We wish you much success with your new book Slated for Death and your work in progress.
Thank you, Jamie and congratulations on your publishing contract!
 You can contact Elizabeth at her website and click the links below to find her books.
Elizabeth J. Duncan is the author of the Penny Brannigan mystery series set in North Wales.Elizabeth’s first novel, The Cold Light of Mourning, won the William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic 2006 Grant for Unpublished Writers and the 2008 St. Martin’s/Malice Domestic Award for best first traditional mystery and was nominated for an Arthur Ellis award in Canada and an Agatha Award in the United States.
Her fourth novel, A Small Hill to Die On won the 2013 Bloody Words best light mystery (Bony Blithe) and the fifth book in the series, Never Laugh as a Hearse Goes By, was nominated for the same award in 2014.
The sixth book in the series, Slated for Death, will be available in Spring 2015.
After graduating from Carleton University, Ottawa, with a BA in English, Elizabeth worked as a writer and editor for some of Canada’s largest newspapers, including the Ottawa Citizen and Hamilton Spectator. She lived and worked in London, England for five years as a freelance writer and broadcaster. She has also worked in public relations and is currently a faculty member of the Humber School for Writers.
Elizabeth lives in Toronto and spends several months each year in North Wales.
Follow her on Twitter @elizabethduncan or like her Facebook page Elizabeth J Duncan
Thanks for joining us with Elizabeth Duncan. Next month's author to be announced shortly.
Talk soon,

Monday, March 23, 2015


March  - what a month this has been! Several family, and friends’, birthdays scattered from one end to the other. An engagement party for my daughter and her fiancĂ© turned into a surprise birthday party held in my honour for one of those silly milestone ages. All involved with the planning did a fantastic job of keeping quiet, even to the point of having me pick up buns for the meal!   

       Jamie Tremain - One-half Celebrating a Birthday

Pam Trying to Talk Horse Sense?

                                                                                                  Killer Authors
                                                                               Donna Warner, Gloria Ferris, Donna Houghton and
                                                                                                              Jamie Tremain

And as if the surprise party wasn’t exciting and memorable enough, Jamie Tremain signed, sealed and delivered (to Canada Post) a contract with Black Opal Books to publish one of our books!!  The Silk Shroud (formerly Body Perfect) is the second of three completed stories Pam and I have worked on over the past eight years and we are tickled to death (hmmm, now there’s an interesting thought) to say we are now under contract with Black Opal Books. It’s been a long journey and we are excited to be taking these next steps, even though there will surely be more work ahead of us.

Naturally in the midst of all this my computer decided it was time to go all blue screen on me. So off to purchase a laptop and begin the task of moving files and backing up favourites. A further upgrade to Office 2013 completed the new set up and I think today has seen me finally comfortable with all things new.

Both Pam and I are truly grateful for all the support and encouragement we’ve received over the years with our writing. Not to mention the invaluable advice, suggestions and critiques offered to us by members of this wonderful writing community to which we belong.

A website is in the works as well - stay tuned for more details.

As well, Jamie Tremain will continue with our monthly interviews – later this month will be a visit with Elizabeth Duncan, author of the Penny Brannigan series.

And now if only Spring would really arrive, March would be almost perfect.


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