ABOUT THE BOOKWhen image consultant Allison Campbell attends an award ceremony to honor a designer friend, she’s thrust into a murder investigation. Only this time, it’s personal.
A former boyfriend is dead, slain on the streets of Philadelphia. His widow claims he was meeting with Allison, yet Allison hadn’t spoken to him in years. Nothing about his death—or life—makes sense. When compromising photos from their past arrive at Allison’s office, they raise more questions than they answer.
Driven to find justice, Allison deconstructs the image her ex had created for himself, looking for clues about the man he’d become. As her hunt for the truth unveils secrets, Allison’s past and present collide—with deadly results.
INTERVIEW WITH WENDY TYSONWendy, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I’ve been writing most of my life. I penned my first short story when I was in elementary school — it was about a ghost dog, and I think my mother still has it in a drawer somewhere — and that was the start of my love affair with the written word. Despite years of learning and practicing craft, my journey to publication was long and winding. I had a number of short stories published after college, but I didn’t write my first novel (which remains unpublished!) until I was in my thirties.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
I’m an ERISA attorney. I work full-time for a mutual fund company — quite a contrast to writing mysteries!
How did you create the plot for this book?
The book started with an idea for an opening scene. I had a vision of Allison receiving an upsetting phone call from someone in her past while attending an award celebration for a designer friend. I based the novel on that concept, working through the details and adjusting the plot as the idea developed.
How do you get to know your characters?
Great question. While in college, I took an advanced fiction writing class. As a class assignment, I had written a short story about a woman whose life unraveled when her husband left her for his mistress. In one of the scenes, I had my character make instant coffee. My classmates nailed me for that during the critique session. They said my character was the kind of particular individual who would take the time to brew coffee — she would never serve instant. I realized they were right, but back then, all I made was instant coffee. I had to go outside my own experiences to portray my character in an authentic way. It was a lesson I’ve never forgotten.
Now, I live with my characters for a long time before I write a single word of a manuscript. I do a lot of freewriting about them, old-fashioned pen to paper, and once I have a firm sense of who they are, I play little games, quizzing myself about their preferences, likes and dislikes, etc. Details are critical.
Who are your favorite authors?
I’m an eclectic reader — I love everything from science fiction and horror to literary fiction and historical romance. My favorite authors, however, write mysteries and thrillers. Elizabeth George, Jonathan Kellerman, Agatha Christie, Harlan Coben, Donna Leon, P.D. James . . . just to name a few.
What book are you currently reading and in what format?
The Girl on a Train, by Paula Hawkins, in hardcover. I just started it, and I can’t put it down.
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
Anywhere with a view! I especially like ski lodges. I enjoy having people around me — the background noise helps me focus — and I love the views. Big Sky in Montana is a favorite spot. My husband and boys ski and I write.
If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
Stephen King’s The Stand. I have read it at least a dozen times, and I learn something new about craft each time I open it.
Let's pretend you’re leaving your country for a year. What’s the last meal (or food) you would want to have before leaving?
My mother’s eggplant parmigiana! It’s long been a favorite, and if I’m leaving the country for a year and I can can’t convince her to join me, that’s what I’d choose.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to travel with my family, and garden/cook. Last year, my husband, kids, and I drove from our home in Pennsylvania to Montana, where we stayed for two weeks before driving home again. The time in Montana was wonderful, but the process of getting there — visiting points along the way in Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Wyoming — was pretty amazing. This year we’re heading to Europe and plan to spend time visiting (by car) several countries.
Gardening is another passion. We’re avid organic gardeners. Years ago, affected by the market downturn and concerned about the price of organic produce, we decided to grow our own vegetables. Our small garden plot now takes up most of our third of an acre yard and we enjoy our own vegetables year-round.
What are you working on now?
I’m finishing up the first book in a new series. The novel is called A Muddied Murder, and it’s the debut in The Greenhouse Mystery Series, which will be published by Henery Press beginning in the spring of 2016. The series centers on a young, widowed environmental lawyer who returns home to rural Pennsylvania to care for her spirited, aging grandmother and launch the family’s organic farm and café. In the first book, she and the town’s hunky veterinarian find the body of the local zoning commissioner in her barn — and she, of course, is compelled to find the killer.
I’m also writing the next Allison Campbell novel, Fatal Facade, which is due out next summer. I’m thrilled to announce that I have a contract with Henery Press for three more books in that series. In Fatal Facade, Allison and friends head to Italy where Allison becomes entangled in the murder investigation of a beautiful, mysterious ex pat.