Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Interview With Thriller Writer Brenda Chapman

Canadian thriller/mystery writer Brenda Chapman's latest novel, The Second Wife, by Orca Publishers has just been released March 1st. Brenda is author of the Jennifer Bannon mystery series for young adults and In Winter's Grip, an adult murder mystery. Brenda is a former teacher and currently works as a senior communications advisor in Ottawa.

I'm so please to have Brenda join us today for a chat about her book:

Your latest novel, The Second Wife, was just released March 1st. How would you describe this book?

The Second Wife is a mystery, told by Gwen Lake, a forty-five year old divorced cop, who is trapped in a dead-end desk job despite her obvious intelligence. When her ex-husband is accused of murder, Gwen rallies out of her lethargy to solve the case. The book could be described as a novelette; it is part of Orca’s Rapid Reads series for adult readers with literacy problems. It’s also a quick, fun read for adults who want to finish a book in one sitting, say on a plane trip.

Tell us about your main character, Gwen Lake. What is she up against?

Gwen Lake is a character who first appeared in a short story I wrote a few years back that won a local writing contest. I’d grown fond of her feistiness and dry sense of humour and was happy for the opportunity to develop her character into a short novel.

Gwen is like a lot of middle-aged people who’ve given up on their dreams and have settled for a life well beneath their capabilities. Gwen believed that her marriage was fulfilling enough, that is, until her husband left her for another woman. At the beginning of the story, Gwen is depressed and believes that life has passed her by; she works for a chauvinistic police force and finds nightly solace in front of the television with a few glasses of wine. Yet, her life changes for the better when she decides to take on a murder investigation on her own time.

What inspires/motivates you as a writer?

I’m inspired by all the books and stories I’ve read since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I love books and good writing, and I’m thrilled to be able to add my writing and imagination to the mix. I’m also inspired by the authors I’ve met – Ottawa has a close-knit, mystery-writing community that offers support and encouragement. I’m discovering this support network of authors extends across Canada. However, perhaps the things that motivate me the most are simply the satisfaction and the excitement I get from putting words to paper.

Who and what do you like to read?

I have a degree in English literature and have read a lot of classics and poetry over the years. I am particularly fond of T.S. Eliot and the early Canadian poets, sometimes pulling out my old books to read in the evening. However, my favourite books to read are mysteries and thrillers. I’ve read a lot of British, American and Canadian authors and am constantly broadening my horizons.

It’s difficult to pick just a few authors, but recently I’ve enjoyed books by Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Denise Mina, Stuart Pawson, Gilles Blunt, C.B. Forrest, Tim Wynne-Jones, Mary Jane Maffini . . . I could go on and on. I’d like to add that Canadian mystery authors write some of the best books out there, bar none.

What have you got in the works now?

Dundurn will be releasing my YA novel Second Chances this fall. It is the story of fifteen-year-old Darlene Finley in the summer of 1971 when her older and more experienced cousin Elizabeth comes to stay for the summer. It’s a coming of age story set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. I’m currently writing an adult murder mystery and will likely be focussing on adult mysteries in the foreseeable future.

Brenda also has a YA novel Second Chances (Dundurn) to be released in the fall.
You can learn more about Brenda and her novels by visiting her website: http://brendachapman.ca/

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