Monday, May 1, 2017

Interview with Heather Weidner, author of Secret Lives and Private Eyes


Title: Secret Lives and Private Eyes
Author: Heather Weidner
Release Date: May 2016
Publisher: Koehler Books
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Business has been slow for Private Investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, but her luck seems to change when a tell-all author hires her to find rock star Johnny Velvet. Could the singer—whose career purportedly ended in a fiery crash almost thirty years ago—still be alive?

As if sifting through dead ends in a cold case isn’t bad enough, Delanie is hired by loud-mouth strip club owner Chaz Wellington Smith, III, to uncover information about the mayor’s secret life. When the mayor is murdered, Chaz becomes the key suspect, and Delanie must clear his name. She also has to figure out why a landscaper 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?

Secret Lives and Private Eyes is a fast-paced mystery that will appeal to readers who like a strong, female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of difficult, and sometimes humorous, situations.


Thank you so much for letting me stop by and visit on your blog today!

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

In my writing life, I am so excited about my published works. I have short stories in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and in 50 Shades of Cabernet. My first novel, Secret Lives and Private Eyes came out last year. I get so excited when I see the final version in book form.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing?

I am a CK (Cop’s Kid). I thought everyone grew up talking about murder and mayhem at the dinner table. One of my first jobs was to pick up the spent casings at the range after my dad practiced. My dad retired from over 45 years on the force, and he’s my best resource. He’s always willing to answer my weird questions like, “Hey, Dad. What does a meth lab smell like? If I dump a body off a pier, how long would it take it to surface?” I have loved mysteries all my life, and I think his work as a police officer was a big influence.

When and why did you begin writing? 

 I’ve been writing for a long time. I wrote (and illustrated my first mystery) in the 7th grade. It was about a dog who was a detective.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 

My grandparents gave me a diary with a lock on it when I was in the second grade. I’ve been journaling ever since. Writing was always an outlet. I loved to write poetry and short stories.

When did you first know you could be a writer? 

I wrote several newspaper/magazine articles through the years, and I sold some clues to a trivia game in the 90s. I didn’t really consider myself a real writer until my first short story came out in a mystery anthology in 2014.

What inspires you to write and why? 

I have loved mysteries since Nancy Drew and Scooby Doo. I started out in the fourth grade reading all of the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Alfred Hitchcocks, and Agatha Christies that I could get my hands on. They were gateways to my lifelong addiction of all genres of mystery. If I’m away from my writing for a few days, I miss it. I love telling stories. Actually, I love all of the writing process -- researching, drafting the work, and revising.

What genre are you most comfortable writing? 

I like all the subgenres of mystery. My novel (and the second book) are traditional private investigator mysteries with a female sleuth. I’m working on a new cozy set in Virginia. I also write short stories, and I’m able to experiment more with those. I like young adult (YA), and I may venture there soon.

What inspired you to write your first book? 

I have always wanted to write a mystery. I’m part of a great writing group, Sisters in Crime. Our local chapter in Central Virginia had a guest private investigator. After listening to her stories and adventures, I decided to make my sleuth a PI. My character had some investigative training, but she didn’t always stay within all the lines that a police officer would. She’s a fun character, and she gets in way more trouble than I do.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began?

My dad’s law enforcement career was a big influence growing up. I loved mysteries – way too many authors to mention. But what I read had a huge influence on what I write now. And I wanted to be either Nancy Drew or Bat Girl. I like to think of my sleuth, Delanie Fitzgerald, as a grown-up Nancy Drew. So if I couldn’t be Nancy or Bat Girl, I could live vicariously through my characters.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

Finding time to write every day is a challenge when life gets in the way. I don’t always get to work on my novel. I try hard to make time to write every day, but sometimes, the only thing I write are blog posts or marketing materials.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? 

I learned to persevere. Writing is not for the feign of heart. Everyone has an opinion or a critique, and you can’t be thin-skinned or take things personally. If you want to be a published writer, you need to keep writing – don’t give up. It’s a business, and you have to think about it in those terms. Also, find your tribe or community of writers. I love my Sisters in Crime group. They are so supportive and always willing to answer questions. The writing journey is much easier when you know that you’re not in it alone.

Do you intend to make writing a career? 

I would once I retire. I have about 17 years left in the workforce, so I’d like to use that time to continue writing and publishing and building a writing platform. My dream is to write full-time (from some beach) when I retire.

Have you developed a specific writing style?

I like to incorporate action and humor in my mysteries. They are light. My chapters are usually short. I write what and where I know, so most of my stories and novels are set in Virginia.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? 

I decided that I wanted to be a published author, so I think perseverance is my greatest strength. The journey to publication is a long one, and there are too many places along the path where folks could give up. I spend a lot of my free time writing, editing, marketing, and promoting. You have to love it and stick with it.

What is your favorite quality about yourself? 

I am a redhead, like my sleuth. A lot of the generalizations are true – quick tempered, energetic, and passionate. I like action, and I like stories to move and to have energy and humor.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself? 

I like to do lots of different things – travel, take photographs, kayak, meet readers and writers – And there’s not always enough time in the day for work, family, writing, and all the rest of the stuff life throws at you. My day starts at 5:00 AM. I try to write every day, but it always doesn’t happen. Sometimes, Thursday arrives, and the only thing I’ve written are policies and performance evaluations for work. I need to be able to jettison some of the things that are a time suck (like cruising the Internet and TV). I’m working on it. I went to Malice Domestic this weekend. One author said that the only thing writers need to know is BISFOK (Butt in Seat; Fingers on Keyboard).

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? 

I have two:
“Well behaved women rarely make history.” ~ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
“Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astair did, but backwards and in high heels.” ~ Faith Whittlesey

I think these are good reminders about what is possible. And sometimes, it just takes some hard work and perseverance to get what you want.

Heather Weidner’s short stories appear in Virginia is for Mysteries, Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II, and 50 Shades of Cabernet. Currently, she is a member of Sisters in Crime, Sisters in Crime Central Virginia, Guppies, Lethal Ladies Write, and James River Writers. 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.

Visit her at or on social media at:

Monday, May 1
Interviewed at I'm Shelf-ish

Tuesday, May 2
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Wednesday, May 3
Guest blogging at Voodoo Princess

Thursday, May 4
Book featured at The Dark Phantom

Friday, May 5
Guest blogging at Turning Another Page

Monday, May 8
Book featured at Yah Gotta Read This

Tuesday, May 9
Book featured at A Title Wave

Wednesday, May 10
Guest blogging at Write and Take Flight

Thursday, May 11
Book reviewed at Warrior Woman Winmill

Friday, May 12
Book featured at Mello and June, It's a Book Thang!

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