Saturday, October 10, 2015

Daniella Bernett and LEAD ME INTO DANGER: "Leave Them Wanting More"

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Hearty congratulations to Daniella Bernett, who just published her first mystery, LEAD ME INTO DANGER. Daniella had me at London — and then again at jewel thief! Welcome to Jungle Reds, Daniella!

DANIELLA BERNETT: I would like to thank Susan Elia MacNeal, a writer whose work I have long admired, for giving me the opportunity to appear here on Jungle Reds. I feel honored to be in the company of such distinguished writers.

I’m very excited to let everyone know that LEAD ME INTO DANGER, the first book in my mystery series about journalist Emmeline Kirby and jewel thief Gregory Longdon, was released on October 1 by Black Opal Books. It takes place in Venice and London. I signed a three-book contract with Black Opal back in December 2014 as the first novels in the series were completed. Book two is in the editing process and I have nearly finished work on Book four.

Susan suggested I write about what fills me with passion. Aside from my family and friends, writing is what makes my heart sing. To me, it is as essential as breathing. I simply must get my ideas down on paper (these days on my laptop).

I knew when I was nine years old that I wanted to be a writer. I have my fourth grade teacher, Miss Budway at P.S. 41 in Bayside, Queens, to thank for helping me to come to this realization. Once a week, she would have Creative Writing hour. She gave the class different assignments and I absolutely loved it. I knew that’s what I wanted to do “when I grew up.”

However, in my opinion, to be a writer one must be a reader first. I am, and have always been, a voracious reader. Mysteries, spy thrillers, the classics, history, biographies, anything (except science fiction and horror). My parents instilled in my sister and me a love of reading when we were very little. Thus, I developed an appreciation for language, and how it can used to convey ideas and weave delectable tales that captivate the imagination.

Now, I spin my own stories. My mother got my sister and me hooked on mysteries and thrillers. So, it seemed only natural that I when gathered up the courage to write my first novel it would be a mystery (with a whisper of romance to make things that much more interesting).

Agatha Christie is my favorite—the grand dame of mystery. The skill with which she plotted her stories was ingenious. In addition, Christie understood human nature and all its foibles. That’s why her characters are so complex and fascinating.

For me, mysteries have always been about the puzzle. I don’t need to know about how much blood and guts have been spilled. I want to know why the crime was committed. The author dangles the answer before the reader’s eyes. The clues are like pearls that are strategically dropped here and there. It is the reader’s job to collect and arrange all of them so that they form a necklace. And viol√†, the solution miraculously materializes.

I hope readers will feel the same way about my books. I want to leave them wanting more.

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Love the metaphor of clues as pears and the reader collecting them to form a necklace! Reds and lovely readers, how hard to you work at solving the mystery? Are you an armchair detective or are you a reader along for the ride? (I confess to being the latter....) Tell us in the comments!

Daniella Bernett is a member of the Mystery Writers of America NY Chapter. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Journalism from St. John’s University. Lead Me Into Danger is her first novel. She also is the author of two poetry collections, Timeless Allure and Silken Reflections. In her professional life, she is the research manager for a nationally prominent engineering, architectural and construction management firm. Daniella is currently working on the next adventure in her Emmeline Kirby-Gregory Longdon mystery series. 

Visit or follow her on Facebook at


  1. Congratulations, Daniella . . . .
    I have to agree that there is a special joy in reading [like you, horror is not my thing, but I am definitely a science fiction fan].
    While I don't purposely set out to be an armchair detective and solve the mystery before the author's reveal, I often do have things all figured out before I get to the end of the book. Nevertheless, it's always a pleasure to see how the author brings it all together and solves the mystery.

  2. Joan, thank you for your good wishes. As for your comment, I usually have the crime solved long before the ending as well. Then, I'm yelling at the detective, "Come on. Can't you see the answer? It's right there in front of you?"

  3. Welcome to JRW Daniella! Seeing your first book in print is so special, isn't it? And I love the description of how you came to be a writer. Thank goodness for the right teachers! I wrote some truly dreadful love poetry in high school, but aside from that, had little idea I'd end up as a writer.

    As for solving things, I'm not very good at it. I guess I'm so busy enjoying the characters and their lives that the mystery becomes less important. And yet I know many readers focus on the puzzle, so as a writer, I've had to get better at that!

    Tell us what it's like to be a first-time author in England. Booksignings? Blogs? I'm imagining lots of little independent bookstores in adorable towns...

  4. Welcome to Jungle Red, Daniella!

    That's such great advice: paying attention to what you're passionate about. Because writing a book is so hard and takes so long, if you're not really INTO it, well then why do it? Sounds like your results are stellar. Venice, London, jewels... what a great mix.

    One of the down sides of writing mysteries is that you tend to be able to see where the author is going. Or where the TV show is going. I try not to blurt the ending and spoil it for anyone else watching with me.

  5. Happy book birthday, Danielle!

    You know, I'm usually just into the story and not trying too hard to figure "who done it." I do love being really surprised by a twist though — Breaking Bad season 5 comes to mind. Does anyone remember when Walter White picked up the flower pot? That's all I'll say....

    Yes, Danielle, are you doing readings in the UK? And how did your reading at the Mysterious Bookshop go? (Splendidly, I'm sure!)

  6. Lucy, Hallie and Susan,

    Thank you for your wishes. I'm so proud to be in your company. I'd like to clear something up, though. I'm not English. I'm a native New Yorker. I live in Queens. However, I've been an Anglophile since I was very little. I grew up on Masterpiece Theater and Mystery on PBS. I've been to England several times, though. And of course, I've read so many books set in England or the British Isles that it was only natural for me to write about two British characters and set my story in London (and Venice for the first book). By the way, London and Venice are my two most favorite cities in the world.

    Susan asked how I was able to do a reading at the Mysterious Bookshop here in Manhattan. I'm a member of the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) NY chapter and many of my fellow members have their launches at the store. Chapter President Richie Narvaez put me in contact with someone at the store and I was able to arrange my event. I was a little unsure if the store would be willing to host me because I was a debut author and my book was published by a small press, but Ian Kern, the contact person, couldn't have been more accommodating and welcoming. Hooray for independent bookstores.

    I had my launch last night (October 9)at the Mysterious Bookshop. It was literally "a dark and stormy night," but I was so touched by how many of my friends, work colleagues and fellow MWA members came out to see me. Of course, my parents and my sister were there too.

    One more note to respond to Hallie's comment about figuring "who done it." I'm exactly that way too when I'm watching a TV show. I have to hold my tongue so I don't spoil for the others. Sometimes I ask my mother and sister, "You know who did it, don't you?" Their response is invariably, "No." Me: "But it's so easy. Do you want me to tell you?" Their response: "NO."

    Alas, that's the way things go.

  7. Hi, everyone. It's me again. I just wanted to let you know that I have two copies of LEAD ME INTO DANGER to give away to the two answers I find most intriguing about why readers like mysteries.

  8. Happy book birthday, Daniella. You've written a mystery novel about two of my favorite cities in the world. Love it. I think when it comes to reading, I am both an active and a passive reader. It very much depends on the book, and whether it's a series. With new to me writers I always play armchair detective. I want to know who dun it, and how the author plays fair. With some series characters, I don't care about the clues, I am having too much fun visiting with old friends, but then, there are some writers who manage to ignite both sides of my reader's brain. I'm head over heels to spend time with old friends, but I know the book will be filled with twists and turns and I want to solve the mystery--preferably before the protagonist. Those writers are on my preorder list!

  9. Kait, thank you. I'm so excited about my book being published. It's a dream come true. As for your thoughts on mysteries, you make some good points. Like you, if it's a series I have been following for a long time, the characters have definitely become my friends and I want to know what happens to them. In that case, I, too, would purchase the latest book since I care so much about the characters and want to know what mischief they are up to now. I suppose ultimately it's a melding of the character and puzzle aspects that keeps me coming back to mysteries.

  10. I don't think anyone has ever asked me why I read mysteries. It's the story that hooks me--the whole shebang--plot, characters, setting--I want to unravel the puzzle, enjoy the locale (settings), and meet some interesting people (characters). Series are the icing on the cake--'Wait, you mean I can spend some time again in Miller's Kill, with Russ and Clare and, oh, Russ' mom?? Yay!!!' That's an example of how I feel when I read a really great story and find out there's more! I'll toss aside a book that's weak in any of the three--and go pull a favorite off the shelf instead.

  11. When I was younger, I read mysteries with the intention of solving the puzzle before the protagonist. Now I read mysteries with the intention of getting inside the minds of the characters, trying to understand them, hoping to learn something new if the setting is one that's foreign to me. (And I have, and that's just delightful, a side benefit of reading an riveting story!)I never thought I'd say this, but I really don't care "whodunit", I just want to enjoy the character development and the story!

  12. FChurch and Deb Romano, I think character development plays a big part of storyline it propels the story. It also helps to solve the "puzzle." If you understand why the character is acting or reacting a certain way a lot of time it makes it easier to solve the crime. Knowing a character is another of the "clues."

  13. It's been a hard decision because I enjoyed all the thoughtful discussions here, but I wanted to announce the winners of the two copies of my mystery, LEAD ME INTO DANGER. They are Kait and FChurch. If the two of you would please send me an e-mail to with the subject line "MYSTERY" and your mailing address, I will send you each a signed book.

  14. I definitely want to solve the murder before the protagonist, but then if I do I get disappointed that it was too easy to solve. I am the impossible reader...

    What I do enjoy is banter and a learning experience along the way.

    What do we learn when we read LEAD ME INTO DANGER that we might not have known before?


  15. KarenM, to answer your question about what you learn when you read LEAD ME INTO DANGER that you might not have known is that what you thought was truth was really an elaborately crafted lie. If you'd like to read an excerpt of LEAD ME INTO DANGER, it can be found here:

  16. Thank you Daniella. I'm guessing that I won't be able to figure out this plot!

  17. KarenM, You can try to figure out the plot. In fact, I highly recommend that you do. Let me know. I welcome all thoughts. You mentioned in your earlier post that you not only enjoy the puzzle, but banter as well. There is definitely banter (witty and otherwise) in LEAD ME INTO DANGER. I have a copy of LEAD ME INTO DANGER to give away. Send me an e-mail with your mailing address to and I will send you the signed copy. Let me know how you would like it personalized.Put "MYSTERY" in the subject line.