Today fellow Crooked Cat author Joan Livingston is visiting to talk about herself and her crime novel Chasing the Case, published on 18 May.
Welcome, Joan! Tell us about your novel, Chasing the Case.
Chasing the Case is the first in the Isabel Long mystery series. Isabel Long, who tells the story, is a longtime journalist turned amateur P.I. In fact, her first case is also her first big story she had as a rookie reporter. Adela Collins, 38, walked home from her family’s general store and no one saw her again. Her car was found two months later on a logging road in the middle of the woods. Her disappearance hit the family and those who knew her hard. How could a woman disappear from a town of a thousand people? Isabel should know. She lives there. Isabel has the time — she lost her job running a newspaper — and a Watson, her 92-year-old mother who comes to live with her. She relies on the skills she used as a journalist to try solving the case. And she also gets a part-time job bartending at the Rooster, the local watering hole where many of the people connected to the case hang out.
What led you to write it?
Like all of my other books, I just sat down and started writing. Or rather it started writing itself.
As a crime novel, it’s a departure from your previous work. Is this a change of direction, or do you see yourself continuing to write in more than one genre?
The short answer is yes. Actually I have a number of books I’ve finished but not published. They are more literary. Then there is a middle-grade series using magical realism and a bilingual book series for kids.
Before signing on with Crooked Cat Books, I self-published. Peace, Love, and You Know What is a comedy set in the early ’70s. Turn on, tune in, and then what? That’s the question facing these college kids. But first they’ll escape to a three-day graduation bash.
The Sweet Spot is a serious book set in a rural area in 1978. Edie St. Claire is the young widow of a man killed in Vietnam. When an affair with her married brother-in-law turns tragic, the town turns against her.
Right now, I’m hooked on the Isabel Long series. The next, Redneck’s Revenge will be out Sept. 30. I am working on the third. But who know will inspire me after that?
You used to be a journalist. Has that helped your fiction writing?
Yes, it did. First, it helped break a twenty-five-year writers block.
But I am also grateful because as a journalist I had to listen to what people said and write it down. I also observed the way they behaved. I believe that experience helps me create realistic characters and dialogue.
What other interests or facts about your life would you like to share with the readers?
I’m a person who likes change. Our most recent was leaving Taos, New Mexico after 11years to move back to Western Massachusetts, where my husband, Hank, and I raised six kids. This time we moved to Shelburne Falls, which is a lively village.
What question would you have liked me to ask that I didn’t?
Whenever I got that question from reporters, I used to say: if you could be any animal in the forest, which one would you be?
And what is the answer?
Definitely a panther.
Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Chasing the Case, published by Crooked Cat Books, is her first mystery and the first in a series featuring Isabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur P.I.
An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and most recently the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure.
After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, she returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including Chasing the Case and its sequels.