Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy New Reds!

HANK: Yes, it's true. We are trying to act cool and sophisticated, but in reality we are jumping up and down. (Which makes it very difficult to type!) Today we are thrilled to welcome two new Reds--they are brilliant, respected, talented, authentic and charming.

If I write any more, I'm likely to gush beyond all socially-acceptable limits. (But don't you love our new look? Thank you to the incomparable Maddee James of!)

Applause, applause, please for the wonderful Deborah Crombie and Julia Spencer-Fleming. (We were going to tell them the secret handshake and the secret password to the clubhouse, but alas, there isnt one. Yet.).

DEB: I'm so thrilled to be in such good company! As for who-what-where, I'm a native Texan who writes British detective novels featuring Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Inspector Gemma James, who are both professional and romantic partners.

I still live in Texas, but spend part of every year in England, doing research :-) and writing.

JULIA:: I wish I had thought to set my series in England. Or better still, Hawai’i. Long research trips to Hawai’i in January...mmm. However, I didn’t have Deb’s foresight. My Clare Fergusson-Russ Van Alstyne mysteries take place in my native Washington County, NY. I live in Maine. Neither place shows at its best in January.

HANK: So. Two of the Jungle Red questions: Pizza or Chocolate? Audrey or Katharine Hepburn?
DEB: Depends on the pizza and the chocolate. Love REALLY good pizza, hate it otherwise. A little more flexible on the chocolate--will eat Hershey's, or
Cadbury's, if I'm on that side of the Pond, in a pinch. Does that make me discriminating?

Audrey or Katharine? I named my daughter Katharine (that's with an "a" in the middle, not an "e")in honor of Kate, but as for me, I think I'd have to go for Audrey. (Oh, those Fifties dresses . . .)

JULIA: I’ve seen you in a fifties-style sheath, Deb, and you look great. As for me, if I were long and lean, I’d live in Katherine’s drapey pants and silk shirts, but I’m not so I can’t. Probably because I’m always indiscriminately stuffing my face with pizza. Mmm...Hawaiian pizzaa...

HANK: Not that we'll breathe a word...but tell us something about yourself that we might not know.

DEB: In another life I'd be a film set designer. Love what rooms can say about the people who live in them.

JULIA: I was an Actor’s Equity apprentice and worked professionally as an actress. I still draw on a lot of my theatre training in my writing.

HANK: So interesting that now setting and dialogue and action are still paramount to you both!Do you remember the first moment you considered yourself a mystery writer? When was that--and why?

DEB: I suppose it was when I made up my mind I was going to write a British crime novel, even though I was an American, whether it ever sold or not. That was where I wanted to be in my head.

JULIA: For me, it was after my half-written science fiction novel had been critiqued as “cliched, out of date, and unmarketable.” I brought the ms home from the writers conference and took a closer look at it. The heroine found a body on the third page and the entire plot revolved around whodunnit. Maybe I should try writing a mystery instead, I thought.

RHYS: Welcome, welcome from me too. I'm interested in how you define yourselves. You both write good, meaty, character-driven mysteries that are neither hard boiled nor cozy. So what are you--soft, medium boiled, lightly poached?

DEB: Rhys, you should know that I have a proper British soft-boiled egg for breakfast most mornings! I suppose I'd consider myself medium boiled. Murder
and its consequences are always taken very seriously in my books. But the books are sometimes funny (at least I think so) and there is a strong domestic
element. No lone hero walking the mean streets here. The kids and dogs would get in the way.

JULIA: I think I fall right in with Deb’s classification, and in fact, you can often find our books together on those “If you like...” lists.

ROBERTA: And hooray, I'm dancing in the streets about our new members too! I want to know when your next books are coming out and two or three sentences
about them, so we can start licking our chops...

DEB: No Mark Upon Her, the 14th Kincaid/James novel, will be out August 2011 in the UK, and Winter 2012 in the US. (The three-sentence synopsis? Oh Roberta, you're cruel ... We need advanced degrees to write those.) But here goes: Returning from a family holiday, Duncan is called to historic Henley-on-Thames to investigate the suspicious death of a high-ranking female police officer who was also an Olympic hopeful in elite rowing. It's only when he enlists Gemma's aid that they discover the motive for the crime may strike very close to home, and that finding the truth may jeopardize their careers--and their lives.

JULIA: Did you come up with that right off the cuff? Okay, the seventh Fergusson/Van Alstyne book, One Was A Soldier, hits the shelves April 26th, 2011. As for the blurb...can I just cut-and-past my shiny new Library Journal review?

“Clare Fergusson comes home from Iraq to Millers Kill, NY, a damaged version of herself. She must now reconcile her combat experiences with her other job as an Episcopal priest. When a fellow veteran in her therapy group is killed and the death ruled a suicide, Clare sets off to uncover the truth. In her latest mystery (after I Shall Not Want), the award-winning Spencer-Fleming calls attention to the stress, nightmares, anger, and guilt many military personnel experience on their return to civilian life. VERDICT In the hands of a lesser writer, this novel would not fly, but Spencer-Fleming carries it off and concludes with a believable resolution. As always, there is a cliffhanger ending for Clare. Outstanding.”

(JRW: Whoo hoo!)

JAN: Welcome! We are all so thrilled to have you join us. Having read Julia's new book, One was a Soldier (which kept me up, late, late into many nights), I
have to ask, if you (Julia) she knew the final, final last page twist (without giving it away) before you started.

JULIA: I do love giving the reader that one last turn of the knife at the end. To answer your question, Jan, I knew what would happen about half-way through the book (which is usually when I figure out the murderer or the method.) Hopefully, if you go back and reread the novel, you can see the various foreshadowings scattered through the pages.

JAN: And Deb, I read an early book of yours and want to know if its hard to stay in British character?

DEB: Not really. That seems to be my brain's default setting. And if I get something wrong, my Brit first-readers will correct me in a hurry! (Julia, am now dying to read the book . . .)

JULIA: Just don’t peek at the ending first!

ROSEMARY: Welcome! I'm in awe of BOTH of these writers. They've managed to do what so many of us want to do - resist being put into an ever-shrinking sub-genre ghetto. How did you do it? Did you set out to, or did it just happen??

DEB: Just happened, I think. I wrote what I liked to read and what I'd always wanted to write, and as the novels are very character driven, they seemed to
naturally edge towards the mainstream.

JULIA: Being character- rather than plot-driven is very important, I think. First and foremeost, I’m always telling the story of a group of individuals who live in Millers Kill, NY. I’ve had reviewers call my books novels with mysteries in them; while I’m proud to be known as a crime fiction author, I think that’s a pretty accurate description.

HALLIE: Jungle Red has never looked better! Welcome!! I want to know if you reward yourself with anything special when you meet a writing milestone, and what it is (assuming it's family friendly).

DEB: A bit traditional on the celebrating. I like to go out with friends, and am not averse to a bit of bubbly. I've finished the last two books in
London, both on a Tuesday, oddly enough. After Necessary as Blood, I met friends at the champagne bar at St. Pancras Station, one of my favorite places in the world. And in early November, when I finished No Mark Upon Her, I went out with my UK editor, who had read the last chapter on the bus as she came to
meet me and was thrilled with the book. It was a writer's perfect day.

JULIA: Dammit, why didn’t I set my series in Great Britain!?! My family usually celebrates the end of a book by going out to the Super Great Wall of China Buffet in South Portland. Later, I catch up on the housecleaning. Clearly, I need to upgrade to Deb’s life.

HANK: Well, we need to think of a way to celebrate today, certainly! I'm sure we'd all love the Super Great Wall of China (really? that's the name?) so first we'll head up to Maine..and then, champagne.

So let's give the new reds a real JRW welcome....who's a fan?


  1. Oh my goodness-among the 8 of you, I'll be so busy reading that I won't have time for my own writing. I just started reading Julia's books, but I am a long time fan of Debbie's. A few months ago on Writerswhokill.blogspot, I reviewed Debbie's series as recommended reading. All of you are so talanted. Glad to see the two new members and will look out for their blogs too!

  2. I think most of us who are Jungle Red fans are also fans of your two newest members. Thanks for bringing them on board.

  3. Thanks, Gram and E.B.!

    And of course, soon, the rest of the website will show their breaking news, and all their books, and all kinds of cool stuff. That should be there later today!

  4. Such cool news! A great blog just got even better.

    Julia, you know I'm a big fan of your work and of you in general. So glad you're now a Jungle Red Woman.

    Deborah, your books have been on my "to read" list for a while now. This is a signal that it's time to walk myself up to Longfellow Books (just a few miles from the Gigantic Super-Duper China Wall Buffet) and buy a Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James novel.

    I'll look forward to blog posts from both of you.

    Brenda B. in Maine

  5. Can I say, I skulked around the MacMillan booth at ALA - before the show opened (sorry, Talia!) - and snagged an advanced reader copy of One was a Soldier. Readers have been waiting for this one like kids wait for Christmas!

  6. Welcome, Deb and Julia! Deb, did you have any opposition with agents, publishers, etc. regarding the American writing British stories thing?

  7. Melissa, I don't really remember opposition over the fact that I was American writing British. There was some concern over the fact that I had no writing credentials whatsoever, not to mention a shockingly boring life! I used to make up exotic histories for myself, but fortunately never in public . . .

  8. Wow, two of my favorite writers -- right here! As Brenda B. said, A great blog just got even better!

  9. Julia,
    I want to upgrade to Deb's life, too!


  10. Already a fan of Julia's (love Clare), now I'm looking forward to reading Deb.

  11. Wow. One of the best blogs in town just got better by a factor of two. Welcome to the salon, ladies! (And Julia: Call me. Wink. Wink.)

  12. Oh, thank you so much for the kind words. Yes, as you can tell, we're delighted. Talk about up-grades...Jungle Red is now sittin' in the primo seats!

    (Julia, don't call Brad. It can only make more know he's incorrigible. What's more, he'll be visiting here himself on Thursday...sigh. I tried to talk him out of it...)

  13. Wow! I am a huge fan of both Deborah and Julia. In fact, I think I have all their books in hardcover. That is the highest honor we bestow in this house.

  14. Okay, thanks bunches, everyone! I'm really looking forward to being here and getting to know you all--and now I guess I have to figure out how to add my photo to the blog comments, techno queen that I am.

    P.S. Anyone who wants to upgrade to my life--does that include scooping the cat box? A writer's life is SO glam!

  15. Hmm... blog or books? How does one decide?

    Seriously, this is exciting news. Two more of my favourite authors on Jungle Red. Yay!

  16. Wow, great additions! I love both and much enjoyed seeing JSF when she spoke at my local library (about 35 miles north of the Great Wall of China -- the buffet that is!) Can't wait for those two upcoming books.

  17. Welcome Ladies. Looking forward to hearing more from you.

  18. Fabulous books. Will get copies for the East Boston High library. I volunteer there teaching ... not science, but financial literacy. For those of you who know me ... DO NOT LAUGH.

  19. I was enormously inspired by a book about quilts and their role in the Civil War's underground railroad. Thank you for the advice about just baking a pie. Since my oven is used for storage, my version will be to go dance.