A Killer Mystery for the Holidays!

Hey, Murder Mystery Lovers!  Happy Holidays!

Those of you that follow my posts here, or my Patreon, or my newsletter (sign up at right), may remember that I’m a big fan of the Piper Blackwell Mysteries, written by my longtime buddy Jean Rabe.  She and I have been friends since we both worked at TSR, Inc. (Dungeons & Dragons) in the 1980s, we created the Blue Kingdoms together (setting of my two recent Blue Kingdoms Collections), and we’ve worked together on numerous projects and anthologies over the years.

I know a lot of writers, and Jean is one of the best writers I know.  So when I say her Piper Blackwell series are my absolute favorites among all the books she’s ever done, you know that’s high praise.

GREAT NEWS!  Jean has just released THE DEAD OF SLED RUN, the newest page-turner in the Piper Blackwell series!

I’m lucky enough to have been one of the people who helped Jean shape the book, but for those of you who didn’t get that kind of sneak preview, you need wait no longer.  You can get The Dead of Sled Run by clicking this link, here.

I’m sure you’re going to like the series as much as I do, and if you do, there are 5 other stand-alone mysteries in the series for you to read, starting with The Dead of Christmas.

In honor of the release, I’m running the brief interview with Jean below.  Maybe this Q&A will pique your interest, if what I’ve said above hasn’t already, or maybe it’ll just give you more reasons to love Jean and her work as I do.

Hey, Jean… What genre was the first story you wrote? Not the words that got published, but the under-the-bed drafts the most authors explore ideas in?

I’d been writing non-fiction for a while, as I was a news reporter. And I dabbled in poetry when I was in high school. My first fiction story was called “The Drill,” a science fiction yarn set on a space station, all the characters were lizard people. It was the only story I wrote that has not been published. Collected a couple of rejection slips for it. I’d probably try to rewrite it and sell it somewhere … but who knows where the typewritten copy is? After that I turned to fantasy, where I had better success.

It seems like fantasy and mystery authors often travel along similar paths. Why do you think so many authors seem to straddle that line? What encouraged you to make the leap?

I think if authors straddle the line it is because they need to do something different. I’d been writing fantasy novels and short stories for years, and reading a lot of fantasy novels. I found a sameness to them, comfortable, sure, but I was so ingrained in the genre that it felt predictable. I started to read mysteries, thrillers, and police procedurals and figured I’d like to try my hand at that.

One of my favorite authors was Ed McBain, and I had the pleasure of corresponding with him. He told me he tried to start out in science fiction and had one book published (Tomorrow and Tomorrow, I have a copy), and that it didn’t click, so he switched to police mysteries. I had a background in covering cops and courts from my newspaper days, so I had the start of a background for it. I took the leap because I wanted to write something different for a change, and I picked Indiana where I used to live and used to cover cops and courts.

Do you still write fantasy novels and stories?

I still love fantasy. I’m working on a fantasy novel right now, Against the Fortress of the Fire Lich, which I’ll probably alternate back and forth with another Piper mystery. I write fantasy short stories when an intriguing anthology is open. Fantasy is easier for me to write because the world is whatever I want to make it. I don’t have to pay attention to real-life roads and cities and laws and climate. I can paint the whole realm and sprinkle it with dark and light magic. And I get to create monsters. I love a nice, disgusting monster. I don’t read much fantasy, though. Like I said, there seemed to be a lot of sameness to it. So I delve into mysteries, police procedurals, thrillers, biographies, and military.

Are there characters in the Piper Blackwell series that have been inspired by people you know in real life?

Several. There are pieces of me in Piper Blackwell and Oren Rosenberg. I gave Piper a love for Michael Connelly books and various police procedurals, compassion for animals (I have four dogs, she has two dogs and a cat), and an appreciation for Vietnamese cooking (though admittedly I favor Thai). She trained at Fort Campbell, KY, where I covered several stories when I was a news reporter and became quite familiar with the base. A couple of Fort Campbell soldiers helped craft her military background so it would be authentic. As for Oren … he’s my age, a little surly, likes jigsaw puzzles, and treasured a book autographed by Bette Midler.

Detective Basil Meredith has ingredients from Bill Gilsdorf and Michael A. Black, retired lawmen who I consult for various aspects of an investigation. DA Scales is based on Robert Scales, an awesome DA in real life, who runs fun Pathfinder roleplaying sessions on the side. Zeke the Geek … ah, he is several of my gaming friends rolled into one teenaged body. He has their hobbies, drive, curiosity, and oddities. My husband worked with a chemist from Vietnam when we lived in Evansville, IN. Nang shares his name and his passion for Vietnamese cooking.

Thanks so much for taking time to answer these questions, Jean.  Hope you have a great Holiday Season!

Okay, all y’all…  Go out there and grab THE DEAD OF SLED RUN for yourselves or to give as a gift during the holidays! You’ll be glad you did!