Today I’m fortunate to present Greg Jolley author of Murder in a Very Small Town.
Hi Greg, thanks for agreeing to this interview.
Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?
Originally that oddest part of the world, California. These days, I’m enjoying the relative calm and sanity of Michigan.
Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?
No matter the genre, it’s the mystery and suspense; the what will the characters decide to do? It’s the dance of the characters, caught up in the conflicts between good and evil.
Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?
Through childhood, I was an avid and compulsive reader. Somewhere in my mid-twenties, I asked myself, “Why not write one? Contribute to the world of stories.” As is almost a requirement of first novels, Distractions (1984) was partially a mirror game of what was happening in my life, which wasn’t as interesting to me as taking the first steps into learning and enjoying the art and craft of stories.
Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I write seven days a week, starting at 5AM with espresso brewing. I am firmly seated in the school that holds to the craft model and find artistic expression and exploration within each day’s efforts.
Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I over write and over research each novel. I’m also open to whatever means get the words and story into play. Sometimes that is typing into my iMac, but of late, it has been four blue line notebooks laid out side by side and a cup of Pilot V5 pens and colored pencils. I also carry a notebook everywhere, as the books continue to percolate throughout the day.
Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.
The latest book is Murder in a Very Small Town, in the suspense genre, where I’ve been living comfortable for the last few writes. I make the distinction between mysteries and suspense, grounded in exploring the dance between good and evil by sharing both the heroes and villains with the readers.
Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?
With the writing of Murder, I was delighted to work with another odd Danser family member, this time Wiki, a twenty-something gay, headstrong and feisty woman. She kept taking the story away from me to make it her own. Every time I knew she was going to turn left, she steered right, over the median, planting her boot on the accelerator and taking off into the uncharted.
Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?
Yes, of course. This is from chapter one of Murder in a very Small Town:
The truck pulled off slowly to the side and braked to a stop. Now Wiki had the view of her headlights glaring into the snow-swept road–the two beams illuminated heavy snowflakes falling at an angle. The steering wheel felt fluid in her small hands, and she slowed down again to five miles per hour. Snow was clouting the underside of the car and sometimes white waves crashed up over the hood. There were furrows out before the car, from prior vehicles, but they were becoming harder to see and stay within. Anxiety, perhaps fear, changed the pace of her breaths and chilled her palms on the wheel.
A highway sign appeared, lit by the white headlights. It read, Exit 143. No name of a town, just the distance to the exit.
Even from within her personal storm of shock and sadness, Wiki understood that she could not go on much further. She turned on the right-side blinker, something that in her normal life would have made her giggle, what with her being the only car for miles. She slowed some more and began to watch for the furrows to sway off to the right.
A single car-wide set of tracks continued into the narrow tunnel of the storm and Wiki turned off, staying within the white tire marks. The off-ramp was tree-lined and rose over a knoll, and there was a single yellow light swaying in the distance to her right. She rolled slowly down the other side of the hill and saw a tangle of cars, headlights, and movement. There was an accident at the base of the hill. Wiki lifted off the gas completely and began lightly braking the car. She was studying the scene a hundred yards away, feeling the car slowing and lazily wiggling its rear. The bridge supporting the trestle tracks was what changed everything.
The car felt like it somehow accelerated. It is also began to slide sideways. Wiki took the wheel tight in both hands. She tried more pressure on the brake pedal. The accident was less than forty yards away, and she could tell that her car was picking up speed as it slid down the snow-covered ramp.
Sara, the baby, and the heartbreak were forgotten. She could see two men working between three wrecked vehicles, prying on a door. Her hand went to the horn and stayed there, pressing it in a solid cry as she and the car slid closer and closer. Neither man seemed to hear or care about her approach. Not knowing what else to do, Wiki turned the wheel all the way to the right. The car stayed on its steady course for impact.
Ten yards away one of the men finally looked up, but there was no time to do anything more than that. Her car struck the two men and hit the wrecked cars. Wiki rebounded on the seat after clouting her head on the wheel, and the two cars spun slowly away and her car, now crushed in at the front, slid past. Her car stopped when it crashed into a third vehicle. This impact had more force as she had hit a large tow truck. Her temple hit the steering wheel again as her car finally stopped.
Wiki sat perfectly still, looking out around the raised hood of her car to the tow truck, ignoring the bump on her head, watching her wipers continue to brush snow from the windshield. She began to shake and could hear the storm wind and the damaged engine of her car.
She was sitting there staring out into the view when her door opened and a frigid blast of air and snow swept in. She turned and thought she saw a woman’s face close to her; the woman had cloth across her mouth and her head was deep inside a fur-lined parka hood.
“Lady, are you okay?” She heard, and thought it odd to be addressed as “Lady.”
The cold and wind coming in through the door jarred Wiki into the current moment. She turned her attention to the woman and nodded, “Yes?”
The woman’s glove pressed Wiki’s chin and turned her eyes to hers. “You better get out. Another car might come. Come on, take off your belt.”
Wiki heard and understood, but sat staring. Then she remembered her car striking the two men and that got her going. She unbuckled and climbed out, the wind whipping her heavy coat and summer dress and thin bare legs.
She looked back up the exit ramp to the two cars she had struck. Their headlights were shining in the blowing snow, and she saw a man staring at the chaos with his jaw dropped.
The woman had her arm around Wiki and turned her away toward the tow truck.
“We need to get inside,” the woman said, leading her to the passenger door of the large yellow vehicle. “There’s nothing we can do out here but freeze.”
“Should we call the police?” Wiki asked, feeling more and more in the moment.
The woman opened the door and climbed in first with her hand out to Wiki.
“Can’t call the sheriff,” the woman replied, waiting for Wiki to close the door.
“Why not?” Wiki asked. She turned on the seat and looked out to the accident.
“Because he’s under your car.”
Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?
The sequel to Murder is in the brilliant and capable hands of my publisher, with a January 2018, release date. It is titled, Malice in a very Small Town and in it, Wiki Danser continues her war against madness and evil.
Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Hiring a professional editor for every book before it even reaches my publisher. I gladly go out of pocket for this invaluable service and expertise, working with brilliant and passionate editors who enrich each novel with substantive, line and copy revisions.
Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
I’m always available to readers at the following:
FB – author page: https://www.facebook.com/gfjolle/
A Small Gang of Authors
All the best,
The Danser novels