Today, I'm so pleased to welcome my talented Chicago-North chaptermate, Joelle Charbonneau, whose new comedic mystery, Skating Around The Law, will be release on September 28th by St. Martin's/Minotaur!!
Can you tell us the premise of your new book?
First, thanks for having me as a guest today! I am thrilled to be here. I loved According to Jane and I can’t wait for Friday Mornings at Nine.
Tell you about my book? Well, I guess you twisted my arm. SKATING AROUND THE LAW is a comedic mystery. A woman goes back to her old hometown to sell an inherited roller rink and finds a dead body head first in a rink toilet. Now she’s stuck in a town she can’t stand with a Sheriff’s Department that is better at gardening than solving crimes. Desperate to get back to her real life, she decides to solve the murder herself. With the help of her randy grandfather, a sexy large animal vet and an ex-circus camel, she has to track down the killer before the killer finds her first.
What's one scene from this story you loved writing and why did it excite you? And what drew you to the mystery genre??
I have to admit that any scene involving the circus camel was a favorite to write. Researching how to ride a camel and then turning that into a scene was especially fun. The camel in the book is a dromedary, which means he only has one hump. I, like my heroine, was baffled as to how a person could ride a one humped camel. I haven’t had the chance to ride one myself – yet. But I plan on taking a spin on one this October.
Funny, but I have no idea what drew me to writing the mystery genre. I read them all the time, but, I was trying to write women’s fiction. However, the fabulous Nephele Tempest heard about my mother’s past career, artistic roller skating, and suggested I write a roller skating book. I laughed myself silly over that suggestion. Ten days later I started typing and there was a dead body at the end of chapter one. Suddenly, I was writing a mystery and I’ve loved every minute of it.
Name 3-4 of your favorite musical artists/groups. Did you use any musical references in your novel? If so, do they play a significant role?
Yikes…only 3 or 4. I’m a professional singer/actress by trade, so I admit that I love about everything with a singable melody. Billy Joel, Chicago, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy are amongst my favorites. With a toddler in the house, I also listen to a lot of Seasame Street music. :-)
Because the book is set in a roller rink, it should come as no surprise that there are lots of musical references. Songs like YMCA and The Hokey Pokey aren’t integral to the plot, but you can’t write about a roller rink without them. (Ooooh, this is going to be so awesome to read! I can't wait! I have fond memories of the wacky music they played at the rink back in my junior-high roller skating days...)
Would your high school friends be surprised to discover you'd become a novelist?
The popularity of Facebook has allowed my high school friends to learn about this turn in my career and, yes, to say they were astonished would be putting it mildly. I was the singer/actress of the group. My best friend was actually the writer. Unlike many authors, I wasn’t someone who wanted to be published at an early age. I was far more comfortable on stage using words that someone else wrote.
Actually, I think the biggest shock is still to come for my high school friends. In high school, I was the serious friend. I’m talking REALLY serious. I was the straight man to my friends’ comedy routines. Skating Around The Law is on the comedy side of the genre. My friends are going to wonder what happened to me.
What's one piece of writing advice you've found valuable on your journey to publication?
Network. Susan Elizabeth Philips has been a mentor of mine since I first started writing. She gave me the advice to join RWA and meet everyone I could. As a professional performer, I am not a shy person, but I am also not one finds it easy to walk up to a group of unknown people and start chatting. But Susan said I should (and she should know), so I did. I forced myself to talk to other writers and to industry professionals. Not because that would help me get published, although for some writers it might, but because the more I learn about the industry the better off I would be if ever I got The Call. I’m glad I took Susan’s advice or I might be totally freaked. As it stands I only chew my nails and cower in the corner once or twice a day.
What's a personality trait you love about one of the characters in your novel and why?
My favorite character in Skating is my heroine’s grandfather – Pop. He’s a hoot. More important, he’s a person who always wants to try new things. Whether it be new careers, breaking and entering or trying a new lady friend on for size, Pop is ready to give it a whirl. So often in our lives we become settled and uninterested in change. I hope I grow up to be like Pop – always interested in finding out what is beyond the next horizon, or behind the locked door.
Writers are usually big readers too. How do you make time for reading and what are you reading at the moment?
Writing has totally cut into my reading time, but yes, I am a HUGE reader. Before writing I used to read 4-6 books a week. Now I’m down to one. Sigh. Part of that isn’t just the writing. I have a 2 ½ year old at home, who isn’t interested in reading the newest Caroline Haines or Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Thankfully, I enjoy the literary stylings Dr. Seuss and Curious George. (LOL! My son was a fan of both, too. ;)
Right now I am currently working my way through a stack of books by authors in my imprint. When I got my publishing contract, my husband went out and bought a large number of Minotaur books. He has supplemented those with additional titles every holiday, anniversary, birthday and sometimes “just because” days. I appreciate the gesture, although the pile is getting rather intimidating. That being said, I plan to purchase Friday Mornings At Nine while I am on tour and read that one in my hotel room at night. I can’t wait! (Oh, thank you!! I really hope you'll like it...)
Thanks again for being with us today, Joelle! Best of luck to you on your debut and on all the books to follow!!