Friday, July 24, 2009
The Treasure in Grunt Work
"This is not just a murder mystery - it is also a poignant story about the complexity of family relationships, the search for closure and the importance of forgiveness . . . Once you start this book, it will be hard to put down. Not only will you be surprised at the ending, you will be filled with admiration at how every piece has fallen into its perfect spot.”-
Bonnie Adams, freelance reporter, The Worcester Telegram and Gazette, and the Town Crier Publications
JAN: We are pleased to welcome to Jungle Red, Stacy Juba, the author of the mystery novel Twenty-Five Years Ago Today. (Mainly Murder Press)
A freelance writer and former daily newspaper reporter with more than a dozen writing awards to her credit, including three New England Press Association awards, she'll be discussing what might be considered a grunt task for a young reporter can lead to some great storytelling.
Twenty-Five Years Ago Today is Stacy's first adult mystery, but her young adult novel Face-Off was published under her maiden name, Stacy Drumtra, when she was 18 years old.
STACY: I don’t know how many afternoons I once spent scouring the microfilm, combing old newspaper headlines for something, anything, to rehash in my “25 and 50 Years Ago Today” column. As the newsroom editorial assistant, my first job out of college, I must’ve slaved over that task 200 times. My eyes glazed over as I read about class reunions, anniversary parties and spelling bees.
My assignment? To compile short snippets recalling local newsworthy events. This wasn’t easy, since the scrolling of the typeface across the brightly lit viewing screen made me dizzy. I confess – once in awhile I fudged the exact date. A slow news day is a slow news day. Eventually, I got promoted to reporter and passed the historical column to my replacement, but my time slaving over these issues left a deeper impression than I’d anticipated.
Over the next couple years, questions kept popping into my mind. What if an editorial assistant discovered an unsolved murder on the microfilm? What if she obsessed over it and conducted an investigation? All that speculation inspired my first mystery novel Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, which chronicles Kris Langley, a rookie obit writer and editorial assistant for a small town daily newspaper.
While researching her “25 Years Ago Today” column, Kris grows fascinated with the cold case of a young cocktail waitress. Driven by a tragedy from her own past, Kris immerses herself in the investigation of what happened to Diana Ferguson, a talented artist who expressed herself through haunting paintings of Greek mythology.
While I was writing the novel, I pored over my published “25 Years Ago Today” clips, which inspired me to open each chapter with a similar news note. I even figured out a way to insert clues into a couple of blurbs. As I created these fictional historical snippets, a wave of nostalgia rolled over me.
I remembered how neat it was to read wire reports about U.S. presidents long gone and wars long over, and how it once awed me that the babies in those birth announcements twenty-five years ago were now out of college, and the newlyweds in those black and white society page photos fifty years ago were now grandparents in their seventies.
Someday, perhaps a young editorial assistant will write a one-line sentence about how fifty years ago, a former local newspaper reporter published her first mystery novel.
Time is fleeting. Maybe we should all enjoy the present moment … and snuggle up with a good book.
To download an excerpt of Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, visit Stacy's web site at http://www.stacyjuba.com/