Today Heather Weidner is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Glitter, Glam and Contraband, her latest novel in the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series.
Welcome, Heather. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
HW: Thank you so much for letting me visit your blog. I’m so excited about the third book in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. In this one, my sassy private investigator is hired to find out who is stealing from the talent at a local drag show. Delanie gets more than she bargains for and a few makeup tips in the process. She also uses her skills to track down missing reptiles and uncover hidden valuables from a 100-year-old crime with a Poe connection.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
HW: Delanie, a private investigator, has three major cases/clients in this mystery. She had sleuthed at a local drag show in book one, and the owner calls her to help find out who is stealing from the talent in book three. My author friends (Fiona Quinn, Tina Glasneck, and Rosemary Shomaker) went with me to Godfrey’s in Richmond, VA for research. The talent there was very helpful and had lots of story ideas when they found out we were writers.
One of my team members at my day gig used to raise reptiles, and another collects exotic fish. They gave me the idea for contraband animals. And many years ago, I read an article about cornerstones and time capsules, and that triggered an idea for a mystery.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
HW: My sleuth is a private investigator, and her income comes mainly from workman’s comp and cheating spouse cases. She’s excited to have more than one case at a time in this mystery. My stories are set in and around Richmond, VA. Readers will recognize a lot of the places that Delanie visits.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
HW: I really like Delanie, her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, and his sidekick, Margaret the Wonder Dog. They are fun. Delanie is spunky and sassy, and she gets into way more trouble than I do. I also have a sleazy strip club owner, Charles (Chaz) Wellington Smith, III, who appeared in book one. He needed Delanie’s help to clear him when he’s accused of murdering the mayor. He was supposed to be only in book one, but he’s such a fun foil for Delanie, that he’s made an appearance in all of the books. Chaz grows on you after a while. In this book, he’s running for mayor of Richmond.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
HW: I write where I know. All of my stories, novellas, and books are set in Virginia. I grew up in Virginia Beach, and we’ve lived in Central Virginia since the early 1990s.
The region with its mix of rural, suburbia, and urban neighbourhoods is a great place to live and write novels. I work in downtown Richmond on a hill above the former Tredegar Ironworks with one of the best views in RVA. This region is home to the state capital, but in many ways, it’s still a close-knit community. And I’m excited to share the big city/small town feel of the area with my readers.
The location gives me a lot of freedom to develop my mystery in a world with trees, cows, farmland, suburbia, skyscrapers, and the mighty James River. My sleuth, Delanie Fitzgerald, is a spunky private investigator with a knack for getting in and out of humorous situations. She lives in a quaint Sears and Roebuck catalog bungalow that fits her quirky style. While there are some catalog homes in the Hopewell area, I took the liberty of moving one to Chesterfield County for my private eye. From 1908 to 1940, the homes were originally ordered and delivered by rail to the owners who assembled them on their property. Delanie’s home is the Yates model, and new, the price ranged from $1,812 to $2,058 in 1938.
Central Virginia is on the I-95 corridor, close to Washington, DC, the beach, and the mountains. My character zips around the countryside and through the city in her black Mustang. She investigates clues or tails suspects in and around many historic and popular locales, including: Belle Island, Bon Air, Brandermill, Byrd Park, Carytown, Church Hill, Kanawha Canal, Library of Virginia, Main Street Station, Maymont, the Poe Museum, and Shockoe Slip. In the back of my novels, I always include a short list of the locales that are real.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
HW: I actually do a lot of research. While the people and the crimes are fictitious, the world and most of the places are real. I want to make sure that I get the details right. I have a lot of crazy Google searches, and I’m sure I’m on someone’s list. Recently, I’ve been researching poisonous snakes, lidar radar guns, knives, drag queen blogs, and tiny houses.
My dad was a police officer for 46 years, and he’s a great resource. I’m also fortunate to be a part of several writer groups that have great programs with law enforcement and forensic experts. And social media is a great tool. I post questions on Facebook and Twitter a lot, and people are generous with their time and expertise.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
HW: Delanie is spunky and feisty. She charges headfirst into situations; sometimes without thinking of the dangers. She gets into situations that include comicons, Renaissance faires, drag shows, larping (live action role playing), and roller derby.
Thanks for answering my questions, Heather, and good luck with Glitter, Glam and Contraband, the latest book in the Delanie Fitzgerald Mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Heather Weidner: Glitter, Glam, and Contraband is Heather Weidner’s third novel in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Deadly Southern Charm. Her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers. Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers. Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan University and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.