Colleen J. Shogan will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
1. How did you choose your genre? What made you write this book? I read a lot of amateur sleuth mysteries. I’ve read them since I was little, starting with Encyclopedia Brown, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Hawkeye Collins & Amy Adams. When I was in graduate school, there was a used bookshop I liked to visit and I discovered “cozy” mysteries. I started buying them and trading them in for different series. I didn’t have a lot of money at the time, but I needed a release from my dissertation. Those paperbacks provided a perfect distraction for my brain – entertaining, light, and engaging. I would never imagine writing in another genre.
2. Writers write what they know, and must observe the world. Are you a first born, middle or last child and how does this shape your view of the world? I’m the youngest in my family. Not only in my immediate family, but the youngest of sixteen first cousins. When you’re the youngest, the older kids go off and do their thing. You’ve got to fend for yourself. I liked to read and watch movies, like “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones.” Even before I knew about Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey, I understood the power of a good story.
3. Where is your favorite place to write? I love to write in the spring, summer, and fall outside on my backyard deck. We have a beautiful saltwater pool adjacent to our deck, and it’s very picturesque, particularly for suburban Washington, D.C. Most of the time, my beagle mutt Conan joins me. He relaxes by the pool or on the grass while I write, as long as I give him a treat to enjoy!
4. How do you feel about killing your darlings, and what do you do with the remains? I don’t necessarily eliminate whole sections of a book. I’m usually happy with the arc of the story when I’m writing it. But in my current book, “Homicide in the House,” I decided to change the ending when I was about two-thirds finished with it. I was watching an episode of the Sherlock series “Elementary” and there was a great bait-and-switch. I was totally snookered. Right there, it hit me to change the ending to my book. It was really an amazing moment. I went back through the manuscript and realized I’d written the perfect lead up to a surprise ending. So I didn’t have to kill any darlings, but I did have to mentally adjust to a new ending.
5. You are introduced to your favorite author. Who is it, and what is that one burning question you must ask them? I’m lucky that I’ve met a lot of my favorite authors. I work at the Library of Congress and I’m heavily involved with the National Book Festival. We’re hosting Stephen King this year. Does anyone have a question I should ask him when the opportunity presents itself? I’d love some thoughts on that.
6. Inquiring minds want to know…tell readers something about you that no one knows. I think about the settings for murders all the time. When I got somewhere in Washington, D.C., I’m always plotting. Should I set my next book here? What would be the hook? If I told people what was going on in my head, they’d stop hanging out with me.
7. You are stranded on a deserted island with only a back pack for company. What three items are in your survival pack? My Kindle. I assume that there’s electricity on his island so I can charge it, right? My computer. I can probably bang out a few novels while I wait for my rescue. Wine opener. Of course, there’s a wine bar on the deserted island.
8. If you could have one super power in your existence, what would it be? I’d really like to fly. If you had to sit in Washington, D.C. traffic on a regular basis, you’d understand why the ability to fly would be extremely valuable.
9. Favorite snack? I love hummus. I eat it with chips, veggies, anything! Long live hummus!
10. Indy 500 – Do you know how to get where you’re going or do you drive the speed limit? I do not drive the speed limit. I’m not sure I know anyone who does.
by Colleen J. Shogan
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
During a government shutdown, Kit’s congresswoman boss is found standing over the dead body of a top staffer she tangled with in front of the press. The police are about to name her as the prime suspect. The weapon was the Speaker’s gavel, an item entrusted to the congresswoman the previous night. The killer knows Kit is on the case. Can she solve the mystery in time to save her job and her life?
Smartphones are great time wasters. I fiddled with various apps as I waited. The next level of “Angry Birds” was within my grasp when I heard footsteps and voices across the hallway. I got up and stood in the doorway to greet my boss.
From the look on her face, she was not pleased. She charged like a linebacker to the exit of the Speaker’s lair with Jack Drysdale on her heels.
“Stop, Congresswoman Dixon. You’re not listening to reason!” From behind, Drysdale placed his hand on Maeve’s left shoulder in an attempt to prevent her from leaving the suite.
Maeve had impressive reflexes. She turned her body toward him and grabbed his wrist with her right hand. “Don’t touch me! Is this how the Speaker’s staff treat members of the House?” Her voice was loud and filled with vitriol.
The gaggle of reporters who had been relaxing inside the anteroom trailed behind me. This was better than a boring pen and pad session. One of them murmured, “I think that’s Dixon from North Carolina.”
This was not a good development, but Maeve didn’t know that the press had a front row seat to her implosion.
Maeve clutched Drysdale’s wrist for several seconds until she let it go. Apparently her physical assault didn’t intimidate him. He ran ahead and stopped directly in front of her.
Stretching his arms out wide to slow her down, Jack made his last stand. “I apologize. I shouldn’t have done that. Please come back in the office so we can sort this out. You’re a valuable part of this caucus and the Speaker wants to work with you on this deal.”
Maeve shook her head. “You guys in House leadership are typical politicians. You can’t take no for an answer. I’m not ready to make a decision. Now get out of my way.”
Unmoving, Drysdale locked eyes with Maeve. She didn’t look away and squared her shoulders. I could almost feel the tension around me as the reporters anxiously waited for the outcome. What was Maeve going to do? Knee him in the groin if he didn’t back down?
After a moment that seemed like an eternity, Drysdale gave in and stepped aside. I breathed a deep sigh of relief and hurried into the hallway to catch up with her. As we exited the corridor, I glanced back to the doorway where I’d been standing. Every reporter was on his or her phone, ostensibly calling in the most salacious story of the shutdown thus far. A junior member of Congress and the Speaker’s top aide had nearly come to blows in the Capitol. A high school reporter could make that story fly.
Colleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. She writes the Washington Whodunit series published by Camel Press. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at Yale, George Mason University, Georgetown, and Penn. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service. She is currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress. Colleen lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan.