Today Colleen J. Shogan is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Dead as a Duck, her latest novel in the Washington Whodunit Mystery series.
Welcome, Colleen. 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.
DEAD AS A DUCK is the seventh mystery in the Washington Whodunit series, featuring congressional staffer turned amateur sleuth Kit Marshall. Kit solves crimes in our nation’s capital along with her merry band of friends and colleagues.
In this book, the scenery changes.
Kit has left Washington, D.C. and hit the road with her boss, Congresswoman Maeve Dixon, who is considering running for the United States Senate in North Carolina. After endless town halls and meet-and-greets, Kit is happy to end the tour in Duck, an upscale beach town in the Outer Banks.
Before Kit can relax on her much-deserved vacation with her husband Doug, brother Sebastian, best friend Meg, and beagle mutt Clarence, the body of Duck’s mayor is found floating in the shallow waters of the Currituck Sound.
Kit’s brother Sebastian, who got in a public kerfuffle with the victim the day before, becomes the prime suspect. Solving the mystery takes her to popular hotspots in the Outer Banks, including a private tour featuring the wild horses of Corolla.
Kit must sacrifice sun-filled days of relaxation to clear her brother. In the end, Kit and Sebastian put their own lives on the line to secure a confession from the killer and make sure justice is served.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
My husband and I own a small home in the Outer Banks. It is a popular vacation and relaxation spot for us. During the pandemic, we spent a great deal of time in the Outer Banks, which really only intensified our great affection for it. In the previous six books in the series, Kit Marshall has visited many of the highlights of Washington, D.C. I decided it was time to let her explore another location – and, of course, solve a mystery!
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
My books are place-based. This book is a beach mystery. The Outer Banks, including its history, are part of this novel. Furthermore, in this story, Kit’s brother Sebastian is accused of murder. Kit feels a great deal of pressure to solve the crime so that he will be cleared. We learn more about what makes Kit operate emotionally as a character because of the threat she faces.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
I started the Washington Whodunt series with a small band of “permanent” characters. However, Kit’s eccentric friend Trevor became popular, so I decided to keep him on in future books. He has really evolved over the course of the series, and I am happy about his development. Trevor isn’t a static character. In each book, he changes—often in interesting ways! Also, in the fifth book in the series, Gore in the Garden, I added a new character, Kit’s brother. Sebastian came to me out of nowhere. Kit had a bit of a hard edge to her, and I wanted to figure out a way to soften her. Adding her long-lost brother to the mix seemed like a fun solution. Now, Sebastian and his offbeat ways are one of the most intriguing parts of the series.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
I spend a lot of time in the places I write about. The Outer Banks is a second home to me. I know the best places to eat, drink, and have fun. I worked on Capitol Hill for over fifteen years, so that neighborhood is almost like my own. When I write about famous buildings (the Smithsonian museums, the Library of Congress, the Capitol, or the Archives), I am confident about my descriptions because I have such a firm knowledge of these amazing places.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
I engage in a fair amount of research as I am writing my novels. In Dead as a Duck, I learned more about the history of the Outer Banks and the origins of the infamous “Lost Colony.” I also read extensively about the famous wild horses of Corolla so I could understand their origins. It’s important for an author to engage in a “deep dive” while writing a book. Readers depend upon accuracy. It’s something I take seriously.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
If you’re looking for a perfect summer beach read, Dead as a Duck is the book for you. Even if you aren’t able to hit the ocean this summer, Dead as a Duck will transport you, coupled with an entertaining amateur sleuth whodunit. Although Dead as a Duck is the seventh book in my series, it can easily be read as a standalone. I hope you enjoy it!
Thanks for answering my questions, Colleen, and good luck with Dead as a Duck, the latest book in A the Washington Whodunit Mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Colleen J. Shogan: Colleen has been reading mysteries since the age of six. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at numerous universities. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as a senior executive at the Library of Congress. Currently, she’s a Senior Vice President at the White House Historical Association. A member of Sisters in Crime, Colleen splits her time between Arlington, VA and Duck, NC.