Intro: What is your name, what do you write, and where can readers find you on social media? And just for fun, if you could be any mythical being or creature, who or what would you be?
I’m Wendy H. Jones, author of the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, police procedurals set in Dundee, Scotland. I am also the author of a Young Adult series called The Fergus and Flora Mysteries. I am about to release the first book in a new series, The Cass Claymore Mysteries. So a crime writer through and through, but different aspects of crime. On social media I can be found everywhere – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram. I also have my own website http://wendyhjones.com
- Guide to Killing Your Boss is the fifth book in your Shona McKenzie mystery series. Even though the books all go together, the summary reads as if it can stand alone. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
The books were designed to be in a series, but to stand alone so that readers could pick them up in any order, read them and still enjoy the story. It’s a difficult balance to ensure that there is enough backstory without overwhelming or using any plot spoilers. Many people do read them in order and this allows then to see the characters and the relationships between them develop.
- How does this book stand out for your other Shona McKenzie novels?
This one is slightly different in that it mainly takes place in Dundee, and around a more tightly knit community. Dundee has a historic ship called The RRS Discovery. It was built in the city and used by Robert Falcon Scott on his voyage to the Antarctic. The book is set around a film crew who are shooting a film about Scott. This book won the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2017.
- You got an adult library card at the age of ten. What was the first adult murder mystery you read and how did it influence your love of reading?
It was an Agatha Christy Book, I think ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’. Thus started my love affair with all things crime related. I just knew I had to read crime books. Although I do read widely my first love and go to for reading is always crime.
- Why did you choose to set the books in Scotland, other than the fact that you grew up there?
Crime Fiction is huge in Scotland, in fact it is the country’s second biggest export. It’s a land of contrasts, mist moors, dark alleys and ancient cities. Lots of fodder for crime books in fact.
- Most bone-chilling pieces of trivia you’ve encountered during your research?
In Surgeons Hall in Edinburgh, the original Medical School, they have a notebook made out of human skin. It is that of Burke of Burke and Hare fame. They murdered people to sell the bodies to the medical school. When he was executed they gave his body to medical science and the skin was used to make pocketbooks.
- Why did you choose self-publishing over traditional?
I’m a hybrid author which means my DI Shona McKenzie Books are independently published, and my Fergus and Flora Books are traditionally published. I see them both as existing alongside each other. I have greater control over my independently published books. However, my publisher, Books to Treasure are excellent and we work closely together.
- You joined the Royal Navy after school and trained as a nurse, and then went on to serve in the army for 17 years, where you were stationed all over the world. How have those adventures influenced your writing?
It has given me a greater insight into other cultures and into human nature. I am able to tap into those experiences to develop my characters and to take notice of what is happening around me. This allows me to draw realistic characters and settings.
- Best behind the scenes story while writing the Shona McKenzie series?
I’ve not really got a behind the scenes story other than I write in as many different places as possible. This includes Sherlock Holmes desk in the Museum in Toronto. I also wrote in Field Marshal Montgomery’s study surrounded by his war maps.
- For fans of your books, what other authors should they read?
Any of the Scottish Crime Writers. They’ll be hooked.
- You were published in academia before writing fiction. Why/how did you make that transition?
It can be a difficult transition because academic writing is much more formal. You have to lose much of the formality when writing novels. This is especially true when writing dialogue which needs to reflect the speech patterns of everyday speech. Ensuring that the language suits the genre is key.
- Favorite moment/moments with fans who have read your book?
I was on the train station in Dundee. A lady came up to me and asked if I was the author. When I said yes she said she had my latest book in her bag and was going to read it on the train. I felt famous.
12. You have a radio show and have also written a book and ran workshops geared towards author marketing. What made you expand your platform to include those resources?
I love all the business around books and like to embrace new opportunities. It’s great fun. I would consider myself an author entrepreneur which means expanding beyond writing. I love running workshops as I did this in a previous life and I can use my expertise to help others.
13. What’s the best part of running your radio show?
It’s a bit like Desert Island Disks meets books. I get to spend an hour chatting to authors, finding out more about them especially through their music choices.
14. Top three marketing tips for authors?
- Grasp every opportunity
- Think Outside the Box
- Help others and network like crazy.
Thanks for the awesome interview Wendy! If you’re a mystery fan, definitely check out her books and follow her on social media!