Interview with Mystery Author Heather Weidner from Pens, Paws and Claws
Thanks for letting me stop by and visit with you, Ernie, and Berti. I love watching their adventures on social media. I’m Heather Weidner, and I write mysteries. My second novel in the Delanie Fitzgeraldseries was published recently.
Private investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in The Tulip Shirt Murders. When a local music producer hires the duo to find out who is bootlegging his artists’ CDs, Delanie uncovers more than just copyright thieves. And if chasing bootleggers isn’t bad enough, local strip club owner and resident sleaze, Chaz Smith, pops back into Delanie’s life with more requests. The police have their man in a gruesome murder, but the loud-mouthed strip club owner thinks there is more to the open and shut case. Delanie and Duncan link a series of killings with no common threads. And they must put the rest of the missing pieces together before someone else is murdered.
The Tulip Shirt Murders is a fast-paced mystery that appeals to readers who like a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations such as larping and trading elbow jabs with roller derby queens.
Do you have pets in your works?
I do. Pets are so much a part of our lives and families that it seemed natural to include them in my mysteries. In Secret Lives and Private Eyes and The Tulip Shirt Murders, Delanie’s partner, Duncan has a sidekick, an English bulldog named Margaret. Margaret is a brown and white log with legs. Her two speeds are napping and snacking. She’s not much security in the office, but she’s great company. I have pets in my short stories too.
I’m also working on a cozy mystery set near Charlottesville, Virginia, and it has a Jack Russell Terrier named Bijou. She’s modeled after my JRT Disney.
Tell us about Pens, Paws, and Claws
Pens, Paws, and Claws is my blog about authors who love pets. I am so fortunate to blog with nine very talented authors (Kristin Kisska, Jeanne Adams, Teresa Inge, Rosemary Stevens, Judy Penz Sheluk, Sheri Levy, Barb Goffman, Maggie King, and Kathleen Kaska.) We all write about pets and love the pets we share our lives with.
Tell us about your pets.
My husband and I share our home with two crazy Jack Russell Terriers, Disney and Riley. They are sister and brother, and they keep us safe from delivery drivers, joggers, and squirrels. Disney (the female) is tiny, but she’s bosses her big brother around. They love long walks, chasing anything that moves in the yard, and playing ball. Riley loves to sun on the deck. He’s always on guard. They’re good company when I’m writing. They listen when I plot or read dialogue out loud.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since middle school. But I had my first mystery short story published in 2014, and my first novel published in 2016. I’m relatively new on the mystery scene, but I’ve been writing for a while.
Why did you choose mysteries?
I have been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. I have loved mysteries for years. I do read a lot of different genres, but I always gravitate back to mysteries and thrillers. I am also a “CK” (Cop’s Kid). I thought everybody talked about murder at the dinner table.
Where do you get your ideas/motivation?
They come from lots of places. I keep a notebook, and I am always jotting down ideas, neat names, and fun phrases. A lot of ideas come from people watching. Some things are based on real events, but I do take liberties. The idea for my short story, “Spring Cleaning” came when my company rehabbed our building, and we had to move during the construction. They brought in these large rolling bins (large enough to hide a body in), and that sparked an idea for a (fictitious) workplace incident.
I set most of my stories and novels in Virginia because I’ve lived here all my life. I write where I know. And it is a neat place. We’re a short drive from the beach, mountains, and Washington, DC. It’s a great mix of rural and urban settings, filled with all kinds of history, culture, and amazing food. And it’s the perfect setting for mysteries. My sleuth, private investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, gets into all kinds of trouble as she zips around Central Virginia in her black Mustang.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get published?
Don’t give up. Writing is hard work. It’s a business, and you have to treat it that way. If you want to get published, keep writing. And find a writers’ group. I’m so lucky to be a part of Sisters in Crime, Guppies, and James River Writers. They are all so supportive for new and seasoned authors. Writing is often a solitary activity, but you need folks to listen to plot ideas, read early versions, and help with publishing questions. These relationships are invaluable. I have learned so much from my author friends.
What are you reading now?
I am one of those people who have multiple TBR (to be read) piles all over the house. I just finished Hardcore Twenty-four by Janet Evanovich. Right now, I’m reading Drive Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan. I love anything mystery, thriller, and suspense.
Heather Weidner’s short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, and James River Writers. The Tulip Shirt Murders is her second novel in her Delanie Fitzgerald series.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.
Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan College and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She blogs regularly with the Pens, Paws, and Claws authors.