Gift-basket entrepreneur Claire Hanover is a lonely housewife who just wants
her workaholic husband to pay more attention to her. Then a divorced friend
encourages her to have a fling with their handsome aerobics instructor. While
giving her a massage, he’s shot and killed, and Claire’s husband
Roger is caught holding the smoking gun. Claire is convinced Roger is being
framed and vows to find the real killer before Roger goes to trial. During
her amateur sleuthing, Claire finds herself in a veritable hornet’s
nest of shady characters, but perseveres, knowing the truth is the only thing
that will save her marriage and the man she still loves.
Beth Groundwater has published seven short stories. Five Star Publishing will
release her first mystery novel, A Real Basket Case, in March 2007. Beth is
a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers
of America, Pikes Peak Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and the Short
Mystery Fiction Society. Between writing spurts, she chauffeurs her two teenagers
to their busy social engagements while bemoaning the lack of her own, defends
her meager garden from marauding mule deer and wild rabbits, and tries to
avoid getting black-and-blue on the black and blue ski slopes of Colorado.
Visit her website at http://www.bethgroundwater.com and her blog at http://bethgroundwater.blogspot.com.
You obtained degrees in Psychology and Computer Science and worked as a software
engineer and project manager, putting aside your writing for a time. Did you
know during your work years that you would return to it someday, or was your
desire to write again something that resurfaced after you retired? Did you
go back to it like gangbusters or was it more of a gradual transition?
BETH: When my children were young, between raising them and work, I had no
creative energy left to write. But, as they got older and more self-sufficient,
and I made the decision to give up my management position and convert to part-time
status, the stress level lowered enough that my muse returned. While still
working, I started playing around with short stories and attended my first
Pikes Peak Writers Conference. I retired in 1998 and spent six months writing
my first novel, which will probably never see the light of day. Then the office
called and said the three people I’d trained before I retired had all
left. They asked me to return and train some more, which I did for six months,
but I was SO anxious to get back to writing when I re-retired in 1999, they
knew it was permanent that time. So, the transition was gradual, but couldn’t
be stopped once it started!
J.B.: You have an impressive list of writing awards, including honors for
short fiction and poetry. How has keeping your feet wet in various fiction
styles made you a better writer?
BETH: I learned what I can and can’t do, what I like writing and what
I don’t like writing. For instance, after writing my hard science fiction
novella, I swore, “never again,” because of all the research involved,
from the theory of relativity to the process of human aging. I often use short
stories as a way to try out a writing style and see if I like it. For instance, “New
Zealand” was the first piece I wrote in first person, and “Flamingo
Fatality” was the first time I tried all-out comedy. Both were successful,
so I’ll be writing more first person and comedic stories, and may even
try a first-person novel. A writer should never be afraid to explore something
new, because otherwise your writing can get stale.
J.B.: Claire Hanover is a very likeable – if slightly under-qualified – amateur
sleuth. She has a knack for getting herself into some sticky situations and
then getting out again on pure luck rather than instinct. Taking into account
her age, marital and social status, what was the appeal of giving her those
BETH: Slightly under-qualified! She’s WAAAY under-qualified, as amateur
sleuths should be. I wanted the reader to be able to identify with her as
someone who was far from superhuman, had many faults, and made lots of mistakes,
but with heart and determination – not JUST luck – she pushed
on and solved her problems. A reader should be able to think, “I could
do that.” One of my critique partners liked to call Claire “Lucy”,
from the I Love Lucy Show. Even though she screws up all the time, you can’t
help loving her.
J.B.: Tell us a little about your critique group – how have they helped
BETH: I would still be unpublished without my critique group, without a doubt.
That’s the first piece of advice I give aspiring authors who ask me
for guidance – join a good critique group! Without my group’s
advice, my writing would not have improved to the point where it’s publishable.
Without their support, I would have given up in quiet despair as the rejection
letters rolled in year after year. I still meet with my critique group twice
a month, and I hope to for many years to come.
J.B.: Share with us some of the things you like to do when you’re not
writing – the book clubs, the water sports ... do the distractions help
you regroup, recharge and refocus when you come back to work on a book?
BETH: I’ve learned to listen to my muse. When she says she can’t
think of another word, it’s time to take a break, sometimes for an hour,
sometimes overnight (and the scene comes to me the next morning), and sometimes
for a week or two. One thing I do religiously for my health is exercise at
least five days a week. I love interesting food, especially chocolate, so
trying a new recipe, going out to eat ethnic food, or attending a chef’s
competition are my idea of great fun. Also, I read widely, in many genres,
and enjoy the variety of quality literature my Book Club chooses to read monthly.
Some of the passages in literary novels almost make me weep in frustration
at never being able to write that well.
J.B.: You love to travel. What are some of your favorite places you’ve
visited? Is there someplace you haven’t been yet that you’d really
like to go?
BETH: My husband and I have a long, long list of places we want to see. His
top choice is Angkor Wat in Cambodia and mine is Machu Picchu in Peru. All
our travels have been interesting, but our two week family trip to New Zealand
was special – rafting in a glow worm cave and hiking on a glacier were
the highlights. Alaska was a close second.
J.B.: If you could meet a fictional detective in real life, who would it be?
BETH: Probably Sherlock Holmes. I find his deductive skills fascinating. I’m
a puzzle freak, jigsaw, crossword, sudoku, you name it, which is probably
why I enjoy writing the mystery form, because you’re basically laying
out a puzzle for your sleuth, and the reader, to solve. And Sherlock Holmes
could figure out any puzzle laid before him.
J.B.: Are you a chocolate kind of person, or do you have some other indulgence
that keeps you going?
BETH: Oh, I’m a chocoholic and proud of it. The darker the better. I’ve
even sampled raw chocolate nibs. Nothing beats dark chocolate in my mind.
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER
J.B. Thompson is the author of two novels of romantic suspense currently
in publication (www.jbtauthor.com). In addition to conducting
author interviews, she writes book and movie reviews. J.B. blogs at “Let’s
Do Lunch – The World According to J.B.”.
She lives near Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and three teenagers
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