If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

September Interviews

9/2 Dianne Freeman, A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

9/9 Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

9/16 Marilyn Levinson, writing as Allison Brook, Checked Out for Murder

9/23 Rhys Bowen, The Last Mrs. Summers

9/30 Sherry Harris, From Beer To Eternity

September Guest Bloggers

9/19 Judy Alter

WWK Weekend Bloggers

9/5 V. M. Burns

9/12 Jennifer J. Chow

9/26 Kait Carson


For The Love Of Lobster Tales by Shari Randall is now available to download free for a limited time. Go to Black Cat Mysteries at: https://bcmystery.com/ to get your free copy! Thanks for the freebie, Shari.

Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

An Interview with Julianne Holmes

by Grace Topping

Clock and Dagger
by Julianne Holmes

Ruth has three days to pull off four events—including the grand reopening of Cog & Sprocket, the clock shop she inherited from her grandfather—so she doesn’t have time for Beckett Green’s nonsense. The competitive owner of a new bookstore, Green seems determined to put other businesses out of business by also carrying their specialty items. He’s trying to steal Ruth’s new watchmaker, Mark Pine, not to mention block her plans to renovate the town clock tower.

Ruth is already all wound up when she’s alarmed to discover Mark’s dead body. As the denizens of Orchard each chime in as to who they think the murderer is, Ruth needs to watch her back as she investigates on her own. Despite the danger, Ruth won’t stop until the killer is behind bars and serving time…

I’ve been following Julie’s career through the Wicked Cozy Authors blog that she and a number of New England cozy writers contribute to. So it was with a great deal of pleasure that I got to know Julie through our correspondence and through her Clock Shop Mystery series. I particularly enjoy books where I learn something new, and Julie taught me a lot about clocks. At the same time, she delivered an intriguing mystery. Her first book in the series, Just Killing Time, was nominated for an Agatha Best First Novel award in 2015. Clock and Dagger was published in August and received rave reviews.

Welcome, Julie, to Writers Who Kill.

In Clock and Dagger, you nicely weave in information about clocks and watches. How did you learn so much about them?

Julianne Holmes
The Internet is a wonderful thing, but I needed to do more hands-on research for this series. I went to the American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol, Connecticut, (http://www.clockandwatchmuseum.org/). That allowed me to immerse myself in all different types of clocks and watches, which really let my imagination roam. 

I talked about the series and discovered that a friend’s husband, David Roberts, is a clockmaker. He and his brother own the Clockfolk of New England shop in Wilmington, Massachusetts. David has been a terrific resource. Not just about the clocks themselves, but the training required. He has also been a great example of the passion required in order to be a clockmaker. I hope that translates onto the page.

With modern methods of telling time and digital time readouts glowing at us from every direction, why is it that old clocks and watches still hold such allure?

There are two reasons for that. First, clocks and watches are marvels, aren’t they? Gears, cogs, springs, mechanics that allow us to capture time. Accuracy is possible with digital, but the art is missing. Clocks and watches are art. Second, clocks and watches get passed down in families, and their stories go with them. I have a clock that I inherited from my grandmother. Every time I look at it, I remember her. That’s powerful.

Although your main character Ruth Clagan is an expert clockmaker, she frequently loses track of time. Are you plagued by a similar problem? Is it a challenge meeting multiple deadlines?

I really, really try, but am rarely early. My goal for the new year (I think of September as a new year) is to leave myself plenty of time to get places so I can breathe. I’ve started scheduling “travel” or “take a break” times in my schedule.

You’ve set your Clock Shop Mystery series in a sleepy Massachusetts town in the Berkshires. What is it about small towns and local businesses that appeal to readers?

Cozies set up expectations for readers. The mystery is important, of course. But they are also an opportunity for folks to visit with old friends and catch up on their lives. Someone recently told me, “I have a crush on Ben Clover.” I know they’ll read the next book in the series to see what happens with Ruth and Ben. Small towns, or neighborhoods in cities, allow a framework around which to tell a story that works.

You write under a pseudonym but are very open about your real name. Why the pseudonym? Do you also write under your real name?

I have published short stories under my real name, and hope to have a series published under it at some point. Berkely came up with the Clock Shop Mystery series and hired me to write it. I had to come up with another name, and Julianne Holmes has some family history, so I chose that. I blog with the Wicked Cozy Authors, and several of us are using multiple names. I don’t hide the fact that J.A. Hennrikus and Julianne Holmes are the same person, because the success of one supports the other. In this day of social media, it makes sense (to me) to just own up to it.

With Just Killing Time out and now a second book, Clock and Dagger, you officially have a series. What is the greatest challenge of writing a series?

I love reading cozy series and am thrilled to be writing one. Keeping it fresh and allowing the characters to grow are both challenges. But I think the biggest challenge is to write each book so it can be read on its own, won’t tell the secrets of the prior story, and works towards a narrative arc.

In your acknowledgments you wrote that Sisters in Crime, especially the New England chapter, made a difference in your life. Please tell us about that?

I joined Sisters in Crime when I was barely willing to admit aloud that I dreamt of writing a mystery. Joining the organization, and being a member of the New England chapter, introduced me to other people who had the same dream. The classes they offered, listservs like the Guppies, conferences like the New England Crime Bake, all helped me become a better writer. The networking and connections I made helped me meet my agent, and that led to my first contract. Just as important, I met folks who have become wonderful friends and my greatest boosters. Writing is solitary, but you need a community. I love being part of Sisters in Crime and can’t imagine this journey without them.

You wrote on one of your blogs that the difference between being an author and being published is vast. Can you expand on this?

Being a writer is about getting words into a document, editing them, shaping a story, plotting, and taking classes to hone your craft. There are challenges to all of that, but it is achievable on your own. Practice makes you better at the craft, and you can also expand your efforts into different genres, or try short stories instead of novels.

Getting published (whether you self-publish, or go the traditional publishing route) requires a different skillset. You need to understand marketing, create a public persona, and meet contracted deadlines. Staying published can be hard. I find that I think about the business, but I can’t let the business define my success as a writer. Does that make sense?

Although readers know you from your novels and short stories, I understand that the theater may be your first love. Tell us about that side of your life? Have you thought of becoming a playwright as well?

I have been very fortunate in that I’ve made my career in arts administration. I currently work for StageSource, a service organization for the New England theater community. I have also worked in museums and with music groups. But you’re right. My first love is theater.

I think about writing a play, or a screenplay, and suspect I will try. I marvel at the craft of writing plays—telling a story through dialogue, without flashbacks. It will be a great challenge.

How are you doing at balancing your writing, blogging, promoting, day job, and home life? Does it ever get any easier?

I will admit, it is a huge balancing act, and I’m not always good at it. I was in book jail* for the first part of the summer and missed chunks of my favorite time of the year. I have systems for my social media input, but I need to get better systems in place for exercise and social time.

*Book jail is that time right before your manuscript is due and you are way behind. Anything besides what is absolutely necessary (work, sleep, eat) is not allowed in book jail. Food is whatever gets you through. For me, Fritos and Humpty Dumpty All Dressed potato chips are major food groups.

I also am very, very grateful that I have this challenging life. Being a published author was my dream. How lucky am I that I have to balance it all?

What’s next for Ruth Clagan and the small business owners of Orchard, Massachusetts?

Chime and Punishment will be out next August. Both the title and the release date may change, but the focus of the book is the clock tower. In preparation, thanks to David Roberts, I went up to a clock tower and wound the clock. Tons of fun. Lots of changes are coming up for Orchard.

Thank you, Julie.

To learn more about Julianne Holmes/J. A. Hennrikus, the Clock Shop Mystery series, and her other works, visit her web site https://jahennrikus.com.

Julie tweets under @JulieHennrikus, is on Pinterest and Instagram, and has a page on Facebook. She also blogs on Live to Write/Write to Live and Killer Characters.


Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Nice to meet you at B'Con and looking forward to reading your books. When in NOLA, I spent an hour looking at antique clocks on Royal Street and, of course, found one which will appear in a future story.

Jim Jackson said...

Congratulations on now having a series. You are so right that the difference between an author and published author in terms of required skill sets these days is vast -- and (unless one is so successful you can pay for everything) continuing to increase.

Kait said...

This is such a fun series. Julie, I would have thought you were a clock maker yourself! Looking forward to a great new read. And your comments about author v. published author--spot on.

carla said...

I love your comments about the two skillsets: writing and getting published. They are very different. Sometimes complimentary. Writers are sensitive creatures. Writers who get published have developed some toughness-- they are risk takers.

Gloria Alden said...

I read your first book and loved it, Julie. I'll have to order the 2nd one to read.

KM Rockwood said...

I love it when a book immerses me in a new field! Who knew clockmaking was so involved (well, if I thought about it, I would have realized it)and your detailed knowledge is intriguing without you getting into any boring lectures.

Warren Bull said...

I agree with KM. Learning about something new through a mystery is fun times two.

Art Taylor said...

Love this interview! Thanks for hosting, Grace. And Julie, good seeing you in New Orleans--and again here!

Shari Randall said...

Hi Julie, I am exhausted just reading about all you do. Thrilled to hear about book three coming out next year - what a great title! Just wondering - do you ever think about writing a theater based mystery?

Vickie Fee said...

Julie, I really enjoyed Just Killing Time and am looking forward to reading Clock and Dagger. I, too, was in book jail a chunk of the summer and am woefully behind on my TBR pile! Best of luck with the series :-)

J.A. Hennrikus said...

Thank you again for hosting me on the blog today, Grace! Such thoughtful questions!

J.A. Hennrikus said...

Margaret, I think we should all have a NOLA touchpoint in our next books! The clock chiming in Jackson Square made my brain whirl. What fun!

J.A. Hennrikus said...

Jim, the switch from "your dream came true" to "now stay published" is a great challenge. Happy to try and meet it, but the skill set does need to continue to grow.

J.A. Hennrikus said...

Thank you Kait and Carrie!

J.A. Hennrikus said...

Thank you Gloria!

J.A. Hennrikus said...

KM, thank you! I love doing research, and have been very taken by the clockmakers I've met. I try to show their passion, but leave out too many boring details. I will say, I've started noticing clocks everywhere.

J.A. Hennrikus said...

Thank you Warren!

J.A. Hennrikus said...

So wonderful to see you Art!

J.A. Hennrikus said...

Hi Shari! My first, unpublished, manuscript was about the theater, and I've written another proposal about a theater. I will definitely write one at some point--how could I not have my two worlds collide?

J.A. Hennrikus said...

Hi Vicki, thank you! The TBR pile is ridiculous at this point, but I'm working on it!Congrats on your parole--such joy mixed with pressure in book jail.

Edith Maxwell said...

Great interview! I'm sorry I missed this last week. I also love what I've learned about clocks in your books, Julie - and the stories even more. Wonderful to see Grace yesterday in Virginia, too.