What would you like to tell readers about yourself?
* Heather Weidner’s short stories appear in Virginia is for Mysteries and Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II. Currently, she is President of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, and a member of Guppies and Lethal Ladies Write. Secret Lives and Private Eyes is her debut novel.
* Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.
* Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan College and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.
* Thank you so much for letting me visit today. I write mystery novels and short stories. Secret Lives and Private Eyes is the first in the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series. Delanie is a sassy, redheaded private investigator who zips around Central Virginia in her black Mustang.
* I have loved mysteries since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. I was over the moon in 1977 when the “Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys” TV show debuted. (And it didn’t hurt that Shaun Cassidy played Joe Hardy.) My friends and I raced through all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys collections. My favorite is still The Crooked Bannister (1971) with its hot pink cover. I loved the plot twists and the double meanings. I was hooked on mysteries. From there, I moved on to Alfred Hitchcock, Agatha Christie, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But Nancy Drew is still one of my favorite sleuths.
* In the late 1980s, I had a double major in English and secondary education. My research project in “Adolescent Literature” was a comparative study of the original Nancy Drew mysteries from the 1930s with the updated ones in the 1980s and their influence on generations readers. As a young reader, I adored Nancy’s freedom. She had a car. She did things that other girls didn’t, and she solved crimes that adults couldn’t. She influenced generations of women from the 1930s to the present with her spunk and enduring appeal.
* The Nancy Drew mysteries were written by several ghost-writers under one pseudonym, Carolyn Keene. The series has undergone several revisions and updates over the years, but Nancy’s spirit and pluck prevail. The famous yellow spines were added to the books in 1962. That was the set that I remember reading. And her stories have been translated into over twenty different languages.
* The girl detective appeared in several movies from the 1930s to the 2000s and TV shows through the years. Her face and logo have graced all kinds of merchandising from jewelry, lunch boxes, and clothing to board and video games. She has appeared in novels, coloring books, and graphic novels. Nancy has been a role-model for lots of young girls for over eighty years.
* There are some similarities between the iconic Nancy Drew and my private investigator. I didn’t intentionally mean to create the parallels, but subconsciously, her character influenced my mystery writing. In the 1930s, Nancy started out as a blonde, but artists later depicted her as a redhead in the 1940s and 1950s. Nancy also drove a sporty roadster. (It was upgraded to a Mustang in the mysteries from the 1980s.) Nancy’s girlfriends (Bess and George) were important in her life and to the stories. And she was fearless, smart, and feisty. I was so impressed that she was able to solve crimes before the professionals did.
* The Nancy Drew novels had an influence on my debut mystery series. I wanted a feisty sleuth who wasn’t afraid to get herself in and out of trouble. My PI, Delanie Fitzgerald, drives a Mustang and hangs out with her computer hacker buddy from college. I like to think of Delanie as following in the footprints and traditions of the original girl sleuth.
* And as though sifting through dead ends in a cold case isn’t bad enough, Chaz Wellington Smith, III, a loud-mouthed, strip club owner, also hires Delanie to uncover information about the mayor’s secret life. When the mayor is murdered, Chaz, is the key suspect. Now Delanie must clear his name and figure out why landscaper Tripp Payne, keeps popping up in her other investigation. Can the private investigator find the connection between the two cases before another murder – possibly her own – takes place?
* “Sorry, but you know I work six days a week, and I met someone recently.” It sounded to Delanie that he was calling from his car with the windows down.
* “So, do I get to meet this one or is she another Miss Right Now?”
* “Very funny. You’re one to talk. Are you dating anyone, or are your dates still pretend because you’re stalking them?”
* “Hey, I stalk for a living,” she said, working on the nails on the other hand.
* “Okay, so what’s new with you? Anything fun or has it been just all work?” asked Robbie, the athletic sibling. He had a baseball stint in the minor leagues until he blew out his knee, ruining his chances of ever being called up to the MLB.
* “One of my new clients is a neighbor of yours, and I wanted to get the buzz on him. His name is Charles Wellington Smith, the third.”
* “Oh, Chaz. Run away fast. He’s an idiot. Whatever you do, don’t take the job. He’s been in and out of jail since high school. He’s a trust-fund baby who tries to be a big shot. But I’m guessing, you’ve already taken the job, haven’t you?”
* “Uh huh. He seemed okay. He’s having trouble getting permits from the city for the new business he wants to open.”
* “It’s a strip club he wants to put in the middle of the Museum district. He’s not popular with respectable folks. Most people avoid him like the plague.” Before Delanie could comment, her brother continued. “He thinks he’s a badass. He throws money around and always has to be the center of attention. He got that stupid face tattoo when he was in juvie jail. I don’t think he ever killed anyone. He’s just trying to look tough and to gain street cred without having to do anything. Be careful. He doesn’t bring out the best in others.”
* “I will. You worry too much. It seems like an interesting job, but I’ll be doubly careful.”
* “When he goes downtown, he always shows up with a posse. They drive around in a caravan, led by that tacky Hummer. He always travels in a pack, and he likes to make a scene.”
* “He seems like a colorful guy.”
* “Just remember that I’m the cool brother. If Steve finds out you’re working for Chaz, you’ll never hear the end of it.”
ANNOUNCEMENT! Heather Weidner will be awarding one (1) Set of 4 Nancy Drew Wine Charms (US Only Addresses) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour! So be sure to leave a comment AND use the Rafflecopter below. Also, visit the other tour stops for a greater chance of winning!
a Rafflecopter giveaway