Joann Keder is visiting Ascroft, eh? today to tell us about Welcome to Piney Falls, her first novel in the Piney Falls Mystery series.
Welcome, Joann. 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.
“Welcome to Piney Falls is the first book in the Piney Falls Mysteries series. So far, there are five books in that series. We get to know the main characters and see where they’re starting. The beautiful part about writing a series is that you get to watch characters grow and change. These people are all odd-man (woman) out in their own way. When they work together, they’re able to solve mysteries and make their little town a better place.
My story recipe is always one part mystery, one part quirky characters and one part relationship. Add a pinch of salt, mix and stir.
Each book has at least two mysteries and is told from dual perspectives. There is also a common thread throughout the series that I won’t ruin for readers, but if you discover it, please write to me and let me know!
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
I harken from a small town in Nebraska. My first series, “Pepperville Stories” takes place in the Midwest. (US) Now that I’ve spent over a decade in the Pacific Northwest, I wanted to bring my stories local so I could use the sights and sounds around me in my stories.
So many little towns have a story of origin that includes a heroic character. I’ve often wondered if those stories are embellished as time goes on. What would happen if we were able to peak through the window of time and discover what really took place?
That’s one perspective, the other involves a connection to modern day Piney Falls. I don’t want to give away that mystery by saying too much. I will add that the women in both centuries are fighting to make a name for themselves the only way they know how.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
To continue the thought from the previous answer, women in the early 1900s had very little leeway when it came to finding themselves. They had a defined role and wavering from the role was not acceptable. Business women of today can also find themselves trapped in a role they may not appreciate.
The theme of women breaking the mold is seen throughout this series and I’m very proud of that.
The other theme throughout this series is family. Our families of choice, our biological connections and the families we take into old age. Each story in this series includes a mystery (or two!) and an evolution of the main characters’ families.
As a woman from a part of the US where old traditions die hard, I struggled to make my own path. Women’s roles throughout history are often underplayed, so it was important to give them a voice then and now.
The theme of family comes from my own journey. I was adopted and spent the first four decades of my adult life in search of my connections. Each character throughout the series finds their own pieces to their respective puzzles.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
I sit down and write everything I know about a character. That begins with hair and eye color, height, weight, etc. I used to keep going until I knew their favorite foods, and television programs, but I don’t have that kind of time anymore.
As I write, I listen for their voice. Sometimes that takes an entire novel, which makes it more difficult to create a well-rounded character.
My favorite characters so far are November Bean because she has no filter and doesn’t apologize for her uniqueness. She is strong and funny and extremely resourceful.
Another favorite is Keilah, from “The Story of Keilah.” She’s just learning about the world and how people let you down, but she doesn’t accept those things as obstacles.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
I transport myself there. What does it smell like? What kinds of trees are surrounding me? Where will I find the library? Bakery? Public school? Is the street full of cars or do people walk everywhere? There are festivals and funny rules that are exclusive to each town. I want my readers to say, “I can picture that!”
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
It really depends on the novel. For “Welcome to Piney Falls,” I went to two museums in Astoria, Oregon to research the canning industry and the immigrants of the early1900s. I would have continued my research, but the pandemic began and everything shut down. That’s when I had to become my own resource and added details to my fictional town from my imagination.
Also, every person is a walking reference book on at least one topic. I’m never disappointed when I ask someone to share their experiences on any given topic.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
Lanie is an imperfect person (as we all are) and can be a bit difficult in the beginning. She’s a fish out of water and we’ll see how she handles it. I hope you’ll see her growth as the book goes on. That goes for Fiona Scheddy too. My greatest wish is that you enjoy this book and will continue on to read the entire series! More books coming in this series next year.
This has been a delight. Thank you so much!
You’re welcome and thanks for answering my questions, Joann. Good luck with Welcome to Piney Falls, the first book in Piney Falls mystery series.
The novel is available online at Amazon
About Joann Keder: Joann spent most of her years in the Midwest, growing up and raising a family on the Great Plains of Nebraska. She worked for sixteen years as a piano teacher before returning to school to receive a master’s degree in creative writing. A mid-life move to the Pacific Northwest lead her to re-examine her priorities. She now creates stories about life and relationships in small towns while her ever-patient husband encourages her on.