Monday, September 13, 2010

A Visit with Joelle Charbonneau!

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!!


Caryn Caldwell said...

Sounds like a fun book!

Marilyn Brant said...

Hi, Caryn!! Wonderful to see you here ;). Hope you're having a GREAT start to the fall!!!

And Joelle, I'm so glad you were able to visit today. SO nice to have you!!

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Hi Marilyn! Thanks again for having me on today. Being your guest is starting to make the book's impending release feel real.

Hi Caryn. I hope people do think the book is fun. I know I had a blast writing it.

Laura Moore said...

Hi Joelle and Marilyn,

Your new mystery sounds great and lots of fun to read. I can't wait for the camel scene!

All best,


Malachi Stone said...

This interview would have made me want to go out and buy SKATING AROUND THE LAW even if Ms. Charbonneau and her musician husband weren't my Facebook friends. Joelle is too modest to tell you about her being offered a three-book deal by Minotaur. Looks like there will be a SKATING series. Janet Evanovich beware: the mantle ever passes.

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Hi Laura - I hope you like the camel as much as I do:)

Malachi - I have no idea how I got so lucky to be a member of TEAM DECKER - but having you and the rest of the gang on my side is one of the best parts of my publishing journey! You're the best.

Peg said...

I can't wait till this comes out! It sounds like such fun--just my kind of read. Good luck on your release signing/party, or, as the French would say "Merde!"

Edie Ramer said...

Joelle, I enjoyed your excerpt and look forward to reading the book. Even your interview was fun to read.

Like you, I was a huge reader and I'm down to about one book a week now. I hate that.

Robin said...

Congratulations, Joelle! The book sounds like a great read! I really enjoyed reading your answers and wish you loads of success.

Thanks for the introduction, Marilyn! You are such a great interviewer!

Debra St. John said...

Hi Marilyn and Joelle,

I'm looking forward to reading both of your books this fall. (Especially the camel scene Joelle...)

Joelle, I am totally with you on Billy Joel, Chicago, and Dr. Seuss!

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Peg - as the French would also say "Je suis terrifié", but I'm determined to have fun.

Edie - can't wait to finish reading Cattitude. I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt and I hope you love the book.

Robin - I agree with you. Marilyn is a fabulous interviewer. She makes it fun for all involved, which is a real skill. Of course, she's also an amazing writer as well. Her skills know no bounds.

Deb - thanks for stopping by. It's because of you and the rest of our fabulous Chicago-North group that this book even exists. You rock!

Marilyn Brant said...

Laura!! I'm looking forward to the camel scene, too ;).

Malachi~hello! Thanks so much for visiting and, yes! It's really exciting that Joelle with have a series coming out!!

Peg~LOL! Hey, I know that French word... :-)

Edie~it's so hard to find time to just *relax* and read for fun now, isn't it? Although, like I said on M.Musings last week, I read the start of Cattitude and just LOVED it!! Can't wait to be able to finish...

Robin~thanks, as always, for stopping by and for being so supportive! I'm lucky to be part of such a great blog community! xo

Debra~thank you so much! And a third YES to Billy Joel!! :)

Joelle~you answered all of the questions beautifully and left me with only the task of posting your great responses!! It's a pleasure to have you ;).

And, in honor of this French theme, I'll add "au revoir" for now... See you all in a bit!

Maria Geraci said...

Okay, this sounds like a hoot! Best of luck with the book, Joelle!

Joelle Charbonneau said...

I hope a lot of people think it is a hoot - Maria.

Oh - I should also mention that if anyone pre-orders SKATING AROUND THE LAW or buys the book at an event or between 9/28-10/8 - send a copy of the receipt to the address on my website. I'll send you a t-shirt to say THANK YOU! The t-shirts show a skate driving over the outline of a dead body:) Should be quite the conversation starter!

Morgan Mandel said...

You do have a great imagination, Joelle. I'm not sure how you thought up a camel for the book. Very unusual. Sounds like a cute book.

Morgan Mandel

Pamala Knight said...

Thanks to Marilyn and Joelle for such a fascinating interview. I'm excited to read SKATING AROUND THE LAW. It sounds like a great read.


Joelle Charbonneau said...

Waves back to Pam and Morgan! Thanks for stopping by ladies. I hope you like the book.

Morgan - funny story about the camel. An adult voice student of mine owns horses and talked about taking one of them to the U of I Vet clinic. She mentioned that one time there was a camel at the clinic. He belonged to a farmer in the middle of Illinois. The writer in me, of course, wondered - why would someone have a camel in the middle of Illinois. And Elwood the former circus camel was born. He is by far one of my favorite characters to write.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Marilyn, Hi Joelle,

Sorry I'm so slow to get to reading blogs. I wanted to say that I LOVE this book. Lots of big fun and I think you all should run right out and buy it- or at least pre order- lol.

Hugs to two of my fav author friends. Cheers~

Marilyn Brant said...

Maria~I think it'll definitely be a hoot ;).

Morgan~Aren't Joelle's ideas fun?! I can just visualize that camel...LOL!

Pamala~Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend!! Hope all is going well for you :-).

Nancy~I have already pre-ordered! A couple of copies!! I'm so looking forward to reading this book...

Joelle~I'm totally taking you up on that t-shirt!!!! LOVE that idea, and I can't wait to wear it around town ;).

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Marilyn - you get one t-shirt for each copy. They make great gifts if you don't want to keep them all:)

Nancy - I have no idea what I did to deserve a great friend like you, but I'm glad I did it. Thanks for being a wonderful mentor! (Pssst....everyone...if you haven't read Nancy's books - you should!)

tonya kappes said...

Can't wait to pick it up. I love those humorous cozies!!! Cozy has come such a long way.

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Hi Tonya - I hope you like the book. You're right - cozies have come a long way. Although, I admit to being an Agatha Christie fan, so the old cozy style will always have a soft spot in my heart.

Marilyn Brant said...

Tonya, I love cozies, too!! I'm looking forward to making some cinnamon tea and curling up with Joelle's book... ;).

Joelle, ohhh, that's awesome!! A t-shirt for each copy -- yay!! I can already tell you, my Aunt Barb (HUGE mystery fan :) is going to love that combination!!

Kwana said...

Great interview and the book sounds like fun!

Marilyn Brant said...

Thanks, Kwana!! So nice of you to stop by ;).