ABOUT THE BOOK
It’s fall in Royal Oak, Michigan, just two miles north of the infamous Eight Mile Road, and jewelry designer Bella Blumer is ready to live the good life and leave the drama of last summer behind her. But the good life is not quite ready for Bella. In addition to jumping head first into another murder investigation to help a long-time friend, Bella has to deal with her fabulous boyfriend who wants to marry her—even if the thought of marriage makes her more than slightly nauseous. Add to that the fact that her newly sullen daughter is ignoring her, and her dragon-lady of a stepsister is in town and making life miserable for Bella’s not-so-lovable mother. When the murder investigation reveals one sordid secret after another, Bella has to scramble to find the murderer to save both her friend . . . and herself.
INTERVIEW WITH DENISE RODGERS
Denise, how did you get started writing?
I needed something to do after my sister married her first husband when I was fourteen. Mom worked and with my sister gone, I needed something to fill my time after school. In addition to copious reading, I started to write in my journal. I still keep the same kind of journal today: a thick, five-subject, 8 x 5 ½ lined notebook. It’s important to have a wonderful pen. I started with a fountain pen (it came as a gift, with the notebook, from my mother). I still have fountain pens, but these days I prefer gel pens. My current favorite is the Energel Metal Tip 0.7. I could write all day in either black or blue. Writing is a tactile, as well as a cerebral, experience.
What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
I love when the writing flows, when the dialog happens, when the characters tell me what to do, when I’m totally amazed at what I’ve just written, because I didn’t think it through; it just happened.
Do you write every day?
I wish I did, but no, I have no routine, and I certainly don’t write every day. My work and my life intrude on my writing time. Constantly. I’ve learned to go with the flow and write on those days that I can. I’ve learned to accept my reality and never worry anymore that I’ll stop writing because of my lack of routine. And yes, it’s easy to pick up where I left off—a week, or ever a month earlier—without losing the tone or voice of the story. I do have to reread what I’ve written to that point (or at least a few scenes back) in order to get back into the flow.
What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
The editing and the nitpicking at the end of the process, just before the book goes up to launch, is excruciating. This perfectionist in me comes out to visit and she drives me crazy! I go over words, I re-write passages, I find inconsistencies, and I start to feel absolutely fearful. I’m afraid of making a mistake and putting it out there for the world to see. Obviously, this slows down the launching process. However, I hope that it also creates a more finished and polished book.
I totally agree with you. What’s more important – characters or plot?
Character, character, character! Without the right characters, a plot is absolutely wooden. The plot has to be there; you have to have an idea of what is about to happen. But it is the way your characters behave in the given situation that make the story real. I remember learning the word “verisimilitude,” which a fancy way of saying that the writing approximates real life. If your characters lead the way through the plot, you are getting that “real” feeling.
How often do you read?
While I write more sporadically, I read every single day. Make that: Every. Single. Day. I am lost without my Kindle. I read before bed each night, for ten minutes to whatever. I read while brushing my teeth (and during other unnamed bathroom activities). I generally read light mysteries, but occasionally I read in other genres, or nonfiction.
What books do you currently have published?
Deadly Diamonds ~ Jeweltown Mystery Book One
Murderous Emeralds ~ Jeweltown Mystery Book Two
Poetry for Children
A Little Bit of Nonsense
Great Lakes Rhythm & Rhyme
For what would you like to be remembered?
For helping other people in whatever way I can, and also for taking the time, effort, and resources, to share my creativity.
What do you love about where you live?
Now that we’ve lived here for thirty-two years, I feel rooted and attached to this neighborhood, and even to the patch of earth on which our house sits. We live in suburban Detroit, Michigan, and now both our adult sons are married and raising their children within a half-mile of our house. How could we ever leave? Even though metro Detroit is huge, our neighborhood consists of just a few thousand, and we often know the families of people we meet or with whom we do business. It’s like living in a small town right in the middle of a large metro area. I hope I convey this sense of community in the Jeweltown books.
What do you like to do when there’s nothing to do?
Read . . . or write in my journal.
Where is your favorite place to visit?
I love Venice, Florida. It’s warm when Detroit is cold. It’s close to some of my Southern relatives in Sarasota. It’s right on the gulf. It’s another small town and the people are very friendly. And the bike riding is wonderful, even in December!
Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?
Yes! In fact, most of the bad traits that make my characters interesting (perhaps in an annoying way) are my own. For example, Shelley, main-character Bella’s sister, is somewhat OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and therefore tends to wash her hands. A lot. Bella’s mother Harriet is a snoop. While I wouldn’t go so far as Harriet and rummage through a house guest’s luggage (oh my!), I am very curious and look things up on Google constantly. I’ve been known to research a company—or a person—if they seemed suspicious or piqued my curiosity. And then again, there is Bella Blumer’s outspoken nature. While some people find it hard to speak their mind, I’m always editing what I say . . . to make sure that I’m not offending anyone or hurting their feelings. When it comes to this bad traits, like Bella, I’m a constant work in progress.
What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Lot’s of healthy food. I’m gluten-free, sugar free, and I ferment my own food and cook mostly from scratch. So what you’d see is mason jars filled with pickled parsnips, jars of home made bone broth soup, lots and lots of fresh vegetables, and a few apples and oranges. Believe it or not, making this list has made me hungry!
What is the most daring thing you've done?
I went canoeing somewhere off Long Island with my cousin and her friends when I was a teenager. We came dangerously close to industrial plants. It was ugly. To make matters worse, I can’t swim, and there were no life preservers involved. (Don’t tell my mom; she still alive at eighty-four, and it might give her a heart attack.)
Yikes! What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
See the above.
LOL. They often do go hand-in-hand. What would your main character say about you?
I hope they’d like to meet me for a chicken shawarma in Royal Oak. I sure would love doing the same with them!
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
I have a hard time writing personal thank you notes, things like that. I draw a blank, for some reason. The hardest ever was writing my father’s eulogy. It mattered too much to me. It was too personal, and I wanted to fit the essence of his entire life in a brief speech of five minutes or less, and there wasn’t going to be a second chance to get it right. That’s an impossible task. Writing fiction is a lot easier. You have time to polish and smooth until you get it right.
What are you working on now?
Now that Murderous Emeralds is finally out in the world, I’m working on Poison Pearl, book three of the Jeweltown Mystery series. It is partially written, and I’m waiting for the right moment to start re-reading what’s happened so far, to better get into the flow—my favorite part of the writing process.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Denise Rodgers spent the first twenty-eight years of her life working in her family’s retail jewelry store in Metro Detroit. This was followed by another twenty-something years running a home-based advertising company that catered to (you guessed it!) jewelers around the country. At the same time, she wrote and published two poetry books and a website of funny children’s poetry. Many of her poems have also been published in anthologies and textbooks around the globe. Rodgers' most recent work, a funny murder mystery series featuring fun woman sleuth Bella Blumer, takes place in a jewelry store in Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit. Murderous Emeralds, the second Jeweltown Mystery was released March 7, 2016.
While Rodgers shares many traits with her main character, Bella Blumer, this book is in no way autobiographical. She lives in Metro Detroit (near, but not in Royal Oak) with her husband and two small dogs. She has two grown sons, two wonderful daughter-in-laws, and four beautiful, amazingly talented and exceptional (just ask her) grandchildren!
Connect with Denise:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble