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Murder Once Removed
(An Ancestor Detective Mystery)
by S. C. Perkins
About the Book
Murder Once Removed (An Ancestor Detective Mystery)
1st in Series
Minotaur Books (March 19, 2019)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Digital ASIN: B07D2BJ2JT
S.C. Perkins’ Murder Once Removed is the captivating first mystery in the Ancestry Detective series, in which Texas genealogist Lucy Lancaster uses her skills to solve murders in both the past and present.
Except for a good taco, genealogist Lucy Lancaster loves nothing more than tracking down her clients’ long-dead ancestors, and her job has never been so exciting as when she discovers a daguerreotype photograph and a journal proving Austin, Texas, billionaire Gus Halloran’s great-great-grandfather was murdered back in 1849. What’s more, Lucy is able to tell Gus who was responsible for his ancestor’s death.
Partly, at least. Using clues from the journal, Lucy narrows the suspects down to two nineteenth-century Texans, one of whom is the ancestor of present-day U.S. senator Daniel Applewhite. But when Gus publicly outs the senator as the descendant of a murderer—with the accidental help of Lucy herself—and her former co-worker is murdered protecting the daguerreotype, Lucy will find that shaking the branches of some family trees proves them to be more twisted and dangerous than she ever thought possible.
About the Author
Interview with the Author
What initially got you interested in writing?
There’s a lot of writers in my father’s side of the family, and so it’s definitely in my blood. Plus, I’m one of those “I can’t remember ever not writing” types. I wrote my first poem – about my cat, Fluffy – when I was around six years old and I began crafting stories with a beginning, middle, and an end not long afterward. Nothing of any substance, but I still had fun trying! While I didn’t start writing novels until adulthood, the desire to write was definitely always there!
What genres do you write in?
I write primarily mysteries, but I’ve also written and self-published one romance novel. Though it definitely needs some updating now, I’m just as proud of it as I am my mysteries.
What drew you to writing these specific genres?
I started reading mysteries with Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys as a child before discovering the Encyclopedia Brown series and, later, the Sweet Valley High books. I loved the puzzle aspect, the suspense, and, probably most of all, the idea of a wrong being righted. In middle school, though, my mother gave me my first Dick Francis novel, and it was all over. I couldn’t get enough and I knew mystery novels were for me!
As for romance, besides the teen romance novels I read growing up (Sweet Valley High makes an appearance here, too, along with others), my favorite movies have always been romantic comedies. I grew up in the 1980s with all the great John Hughes films like Sixteen Candles, so it was a given I’d write at least one.
One of the reasons I love writing cozy mysteries is how you can incorporate romance and humor into your mystery’s plot. It ticks all the boxes of things I like best in my books and they’re such fun to write.
How did you break into the field?
I was a journalism major in college and went on to be a freelance writer and editor for many years, so I’ve been published in one way or another since the early 1990s – though always in non-fiction. I decided to finally start my first novel in 2005, after the medical journal I was working for moved to another city and I had time to write while I looked for another job. I got involved with The Writers’ League of Texas shortly thereafter and began attending writers’ conferences and submitting my novels to contests. In 2016, I submitted my draft of Murder Once Removed to the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Novel Contest and won! It was and still is absolutely thrilling!
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
One of my favorite things about Dick Francis’ novels was I always learned something new, whether it was about an interesting profession or simply a little-known factoid. I hope readers will get the same thing out of my books, plus a few laughs, a bit of will-they-or-won’t-they romance, and maybe a desire to eat some tacos.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
I love the twists and turns you have to navigate in crafting and writing any novel plot, mystery or otherwise, and I genuinely enjoy the work that goes into making my novel a cohesive and readable story. I also love the research and developing the characters. Believe it or not, I also like editing. Writing, in all its forms, simply makes me very happy.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
My challenge is that I don’t stop and start well when I write, so trying to get in some good writing when I only have thirty minutes here and there, like a lot of writers are capable of doing, is harder for me. I work best when I have long stretches of time to settle in and write. It’s something I need to get better at, for sure!
What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?
I would say to re-read a book you really like and note how the author put the story together. Next, write the book you want to write, then hire a good, experienced editor who works with your genre and spend the money to have it edited properly. Take your editor’s advice* and learn from them as to where your weak points are and what you need to work on. This often means tearing your beloved book apart and starting over to a large extent. Once it’s done, have it edited again. Then, rewrite and/or tighten where needed, and send it to a few trusted readers for their opinions. Rewrite some more, but not to the point where you’re nitpicking over every word. Then either send it to contests, or start sending to agents and let it fly.
* No one is infallible, even a good editor. If you question their suggestions in a couple of places, that’s OK. Trust your instincts, but always be willing to accept good advice that will help you get better.
What type of books do you enjoy reading?
I love to read mysteries, of course – especially cozies and historical mysteries. I also love historical fiction, romance (pretty much any type), thrillers, action-adventure, and historical biographies.
Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?
I love to bake cookies, my favorite being oatmeal chocolate-chip. My secret baking desire is to learn to make true French macarons!
What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?
I would love to connect! Please visit my website at scperkins.com and, if you like, sign up for my newsletter. I can also be found on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest at @SCPerkinsWriter. Thank you so much!
S.C. Perkins is a fifth-generation Texan who grew up hearing fascinating stories of her ancestry and eating lots of great Tex-Mex, both of which inspired the plot of her debut mystery novel. Murder Once Removed was the winner of the 2017 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition. She resides in Houston and, when she’s not writing or working at her day job, she’s likely outside in the sun, on the beach, or riding horses.
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