Saturday, April 26, 2008

An Interview With Mystery Writer, Wendy Roberts

Today, Killer Fiction has a special guest – mystery author, Wendy Roberts.

Wendy is the author of the GHOST DUSTERS mystery series published by Penguin, and boy, do I love the concept. I get asked all the time to explain high concept, well, here it is. Wendy’s heroine is a forensic cleaner who can see the dead. And she manages to get mixed up in a murder or two or three while trying to help the dead get to rest.

The first book of the series, THE REMAINS OF THE DEAD, is available now and the second in the series, THE DEVIL MAY RIDE, will be available December 2008.

If you have any questions for Wendy, go ahead and ask. She is on vacation this weekend, but will follow up on any questions as internet connectivity allows.

So please, everyone, help me welcome mystery author, Wendy Roberts!!!!!!!! (much clapping, screaming and fanfare)

(Wendy) First, thanks to Jana and all the ladies of Killer Fiction for allowing me to be a guest!

We’re happy to have you! It’s always interesting getting an inside look at the minds of authors – scary sometimes, but always interesting. So let’s see what might interest our blog readers.

First question - where do you get your ideas………..Ha! I’m just joking! Seriously, your series has a bit of a dark side to it, so I was wondering what your influences are. Do you like horror movies, read Agatha Christie growing up, etc.?

I’m a huge mystery fan! I read all the Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon mysteries growing up. I have a complete Stephen King collection that is on a shelf next to my almost complete Nora Roberts collection. I don’t enjoy horror movies as much as I used to as a teen, but give me a good paranormal suspense movie like Sixth Sense and I’m hooked!

A girl after my own heart! I still have my Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drews.

So, you started your writing career targeting the romance genre, but had your first sell (DATING CAN BE DEADLY – Red Dress Ink) with chick-lit mystery. Now, you’re writing a mystery series. Do you find there are differences in writing a mystery versus a romance and if so, what have you had to change in your writing style to accommodate them?

Even when I was targeting romance, I mostly zoomed in on the romantic suspense lines like Harlequin Intrigue. Mystery, crime and mayhem have always wormed their way between my love scenes so I haven’t had to change my writing. In my last book, THE REMAINS OF THE DEAD, the main character’s romantic relationship with a coworker was still important even if it did play second fiddle to the mystery. I like my characters to have complete lives that go beyond both their love life and whatever murder is keeping them awake at night.

Well, you know you’re in good company with the ladies of Killer Fiction. We all love a little murder mixed in with a hot hero!

After making your first sale, chick lit kinda went by the wayside and you had to re-invent yourself in a new genre. Sometimes, new writers don’t realize just how hard that second sale can be. And lots of times, through no fault of the writer (as in your case) you find yourself without a home. There was quite a bit of time between your first and second sales. Tell us a little about how you approached rebranding yourself and how you overcame the fear and disappointment of thinking you had your foot in the door with chick lit mystery only to find yourself essentially starting over.

I got the call that sold my first book (Dating Can Be Deadly) in August 2003 and didn’t make another sale until October 2006. Those were three lean, mean, hungry years! After I made that first sale, I pounded the keyboard desperately but I was fighting the swirling flush of chick lit as it circled the toilet bowl LOL! Between 2003 and October 2006, I wrote four new manuscripts. When I finally stopped chasing the market and wrote a story because the premise caught my attention, I sold a three-book mystery series to Penguin Books.

Although my first sale was chick lit, it still had a mystery element with a paranormal edge and what I’m currently writing also has those same three elements (mystery, paranormal & romance) so the rebranding wasn’t difficult. Because there were so many years between the sales though, it was very much like starting over.

Wow! Two very important pieces of information in that answer – don’t chase the market and writer’s write. If you had given up, we wouldn’t have this fabulous new series to enjoy. (are you taking notes, guys?)

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?

I’m currently reading Don’t Scream by Wendy Corsi Staub. Next in my pile is Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri and Karen Robards’ Guilty. I’ll read just about anything in fiction!

Great selections!

If you could write anything else, what would it be?

The next book! My mind only works in terms of that very next manuscript, the one calling seductively to me while I’m in the midst of writing my current one.

Ah, the dreaded seductive call. Yep, heard that a time or two myself.

What is the most satisfying thing about writing to you?

Killing people on paper and changing the names to protect the guilty! Seriously. Don’t piss me off.

I’m definitely buying the drinks the next time I see you.

Tell us one interesting thing about yourself that we probably don’t know (and I don’t count) J

Ah but Jana you ARE the most interesting friend I’ve got! One thing you may not know about me is that I have a love/hate relationship with the Poppit internet game where you pop cyber balloons for points. Other than that, I’m mostly a boring mom. J Thanks again for inviting me to play on Killer Fiction!

Thanks for the interview, Wendy!


Wendy Roberts is a fan of all things mysterious but a huge chicken at heart. She is the author of the Ghost Dusters mystery series for Penguin books which is about a woman who cleans crime scenes for a living and also talks to the ghosts of the dead. The Remains of the Dead is the first book in the series and it’s out now. Look for book two, The Devil May Ride, to be in stores December 2008. Wendy lives with her husband and four children in British Columbia where she’s hard at work on her next novel. You can visit her on the web at


Kathy Bacus said...

What a fabulously informative, entertaining, and inspirational post! Thanks so much, Wendy, for taking the time to drop in here at Killer Fiction. I can't wait to read THE REMAINS OF THE DEAD! What a terrific idea for a series!

Your own publishing experience points out the importance of two important 'Ps' in this biz: Persistence and perseverance. And you've got both aplenty. I think most authors harbor fears that a second book offer/contract won't be forthcoming. I was fortunate in that my first contract was for two books in my 'Calamity Jayne' series. Whew! Of course, the challenge then is to write an even better second book...and third...and so on.

My current paranormal release, FIANCE AT HER FINGERTIPS, was also written with a series in mind. Guess we'll see how it goes. Ideally, I would love to continue writing the offbeat, humorous stories, but I also enjoy writing the edgier stuff so am hoping to break out into the suspense/thriller genre.

And, we're all on the lookout for that next 'high concept' idea!

Thanks again for hanging out with us, Wendy, and a big thanks to Jana for inviting you out to play!

~Bullet Hole who is celebrating the end of this class term~

Wendy Roberts said...

Hi Kathy, yes the two 'Ps' are definitely what it takes!

Thanks for having me here!

Dru said...

Great interview. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Christie Craig said...

Great Interveiw!


Thanks Jana and Wendy.

Wendy, you scare me a little.


Wendy Roberts said...

Thanks Dru!

Christie ... just a little? ;-]

Gemma Halliday said...

Wendy, I loved 'Dating can be Deadly' so much, it killed me when you didn't have another book out right after. Those were some lean years for your readers, too! So glad you're back. :)


Wendy Roberts said...

Thanks Gemma!!