I’m so excited to be a stop on the blog tour for author Elizabeth J. Duncan and her new book Remembering The Dead. This is the tenth book in her A Penny Brannigan Mystery Series.
Remembering the Dead: A Penny Brannigan Mystery
10th in Series
Crooked Lane Books (September 10, 2019)
Hardcover: 296 Pages
Digital ASIN: B07NKQ22XN
Amazon B&N Kobo
In award-winning author Elizabeth J. Duncan’s tenth Penny Brannigan mystery set in North Wales, Canadian amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan attends a dinner party at a posh country house–where a historic chair disappears and a waiter is murdered.
Artist and spa owner Penny Brannigan has been asked to organize a formal dinner to mark the centenary of the armistice that ended World War One. After dinner, the guests adjourn to the library for a private exhibition of the Black Chair, a precious piece of Welsh literary history awarded in 1917 to poet Hedd Wyn. But to the guests’ shock, the newly restored bardic chair is missing. And then Penny discovers the rain-soaked body of a waiter.
When Penny learns that the victim was the nephew of one of her employees, she is determined to find the killer. Meanwhile, the local police search for the Black Chair. The Prince of Wales is due to open an exhibit featuring the chair in three weeks, so time is not on their side. A visit to a nursing home to consult an ex-thief convinces Penny that the theft of the Black Chair and the waiter’s murder are connected. She rushes to Dublin to consult a disagreeable antiquarian, who might know more than he lets on, and during the course of her investigation confronts a gaggle of suspicious travelers and an eccentric herbalist who seems to have something to hide. Can Penny find the chair and the culprit before she is laid to rest in the green grass of Wales?
A two-time winner of the Bloody Words (Bony Blithe) Award for Canada’s best light mystery, Elizabeth J. Duncan is the author of two series of traditional mysteries: the Penny Brannigan series set in North Wales and Shakespeare in the Catskills featuring costume designer and amateur sleuth Charlotte Fairfax. A former journalist, public relations practitioner, and college professor, Elizabeth is a faculty member of the Humber School for Writers. She divides her time between Toronto, Canada, and Llandudno, North Wales.
When did you know that you wanted to be an author? What things, if any, influenced that decision?
I never aspired to be an author — I just started writing The Cold Light of Mourning, the first Penny Brannigan mystery, and I became one. But this didn’t come out of nowhere; I’ve always been a writer – a journalist, a public relations practioner, and then I taught writing (among other subjects) in a college public relations program.
So the transition from writer to author came easily and organically, and you could say my entire working life led up to it, and it was part of a natural progression.
With so many cozies being written today, what makes your books stand out from the crowd?
The settings are somewhat unusual. The Penny Brannigan series is set in North Wales, and the Shakespeare in the Catskills series is set in a theater company in upstate New York.
My books tend to be a little more on the serious side, although they include many elements readers enjoy … beautiful British country houses, charming cottages, picturesque towns and villages, and I hope, interesting characters.
And two titles in the Penny Brannigan series (A Small Hill to Die On and Murder on the Hour) won the Bony Blithe Award for Canada’s best light mystery, and several others were nominated, so that’s a distinction!
Do you work from an outline or plot or do you just see where the characters take you?
Both. I begin with an outline and have a general idea what the story is about, but I’m open to surprises. In several books the killer turned out to be someone other than who I thought it was, because the story just went in a different, better direction. And in the book I’m writing now, for one reason or another the first three victims didn’t work out (lucky for them!) so I’m on the fourth one now, and she is right.
But I definitely listen to what the characters are telling me.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you do anything special to get those reviews?
I read some reviews, usually the professional trades. A good review is easy and fun, but critical reviews can sting for days and really take the wind out of your sails. However, reviewers sometimes provide feedback that’s worth considering.
I don’t respond, good or bad and I don’t do anything special to get them. The publisher makes sure review copies end up in the right hands.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Take time to think things through. It’s not just about today.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in someone buying your book(s)? Who designs your book covers?
Covers are a huge part of what makes a book appeal to a reader. The cover art for the first nine Penny Brannigan books was painted by Toronto artist Doug Martin and I liked them so much, I bought all the original artwork. His paintings create intrigue … something happened here … and hopefully the reader will want to know what that was, open the book to the first page, and begin reading.
Please give us an insight into your main characters. What do you think makes them special?
Both main characters are immigrants. Penny Brannigan is a Canadian who chose to live in Wales, and Charlotte Fairfax is an English woman living in the United States. So as outsiders, both had to build new lives for themselves in a foreign country.
Both are smart, talented women who had to overcome obstacles to get where they are today. I’m fond of both of them.
What have you learned about yourself since becoming an author?
Writing a book is a lot different from writing a newspaper or magazine article, so I was surprised to find I have the creativity, discipline and desire to stay the course. With a lot of help and support from wonderful publishers, of course.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Until about five years ago I combined a busy work life with writing. I take things a little easier now since I retired from full-time employment, and decreased my writing workload from two books a year to one.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I’m writing book #11 in the Penny Brannigan series. I take the writing life one year at a time.
What do you think the hardest part of writing is? What is the easiest?
The hardest part is getting past the procrastination, especially when I’m not sure where the story is going, or needs to go. But once I get into it, and the ideas are coming and the words start to flow, it’s so enjoyable.
What type of books do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors?
I like mysteries and biographies. I enjoy Peter James’s police procedurals set in Brighton and Hove, but I’m a few books behind in that series. I’m also into historical mysteries these days. But with so many wonderful books coming out, it’s impossible to keep up with all of them, and with so many more entertainment options (looking at you, Netflix), I don’t read as much as I used to.
What is the one thing you would like your readers to know about you?
How much I appreciate their support.
Do you have anything specific you would like to say to your readers?
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Website: www. elizabethjduncan.com
Facebook: Please like my author page http://www.facebook.com/elizabethjduncan
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