Interview with Jean Sheldon

Describe your desk
My desk, like me, is a worn but fairly stable vessel cluttered with bits and pieces of what was, what is, and what may yet be. A Habitat for Humanity cup holds objects for writing, cutting, editing, and drawing. A storyteller doll, two onyx fetishes, a bear and a turtle, and obsidian pieces found at Tent Rocks, are memories of my twenty years in New Mexico. A stack of books, some to be read again, some for the first time, all treasures and peaceful diversions from a busy, cyber-based existence. Post-it-notes to supplement a constantly tested memory. A variety of notebooks that keep thoughts and images from slipping into oblivion. A cup of coffee, pale with cream, atop circular stains from dozens of predecessors. It is, at times, where I create my characters, and at other times, where my characters create me.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I didn't start writing mysteries until 2004. I was 53 and overwhelmed by the political and social climate. I wanted a distraction. Since I loved to read mysteries, I thought I'd try my hand at writing one. That was almost 10 years ago, and I haven't stopped. Nor have I lost any of the passion I felt early on. Writing opens me to all the possibilities of the universe. That's a strong statement, but true to the core of my being. Writing helps me listen better. It forces me to become aware of the possibilities that lie beyond my limited view of the world. It nurtures my humanity. Does it get any better than that?
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My cat. But once she's fed, brushed, and has received sufficient undivided attention, I am able to join the characters and places of my 'work in progress'.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I read quite a bit, and often have several books going at once. I like that, because each book fills a different need. Those needs can change by the hour, and there is always an appropriate book.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I've written poetry for as long as I can remember, but I barely survived high school English. I was intimidated by people who wrote well, which is probably why I was in my 50s before I seriously considered writing books. I do recall penning a short story about a cheerful young woman in a very gloomy Laundromat. It was inspired by one of my favorites, JD Salinger .
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Chicago. I haven't lived there in over 25 years, but it is still the central location for many of my stories. It is still home. Recently, I was asked to contribute an article to Mystery Reader's Journal 2013 'Chicago Mysteries' edition. Here are a few lines from my piece: "Chicago is more than simply a location for my mysteries. It is where my characters build their lives. Where they eat, sleep, and earn their living. Where they park their cars and buy their groceries. Where they laugh, cry, and sometimes, where they become involved in a mystery. The stories often feature accidental and amateur sleuths, and focus on characters that experience the city as I did, and whenever possible, still do, with a sense of innocence, wonder, and curiosity."
Where do you think you'll be as a writer in 5 years?
I'd like to think I'll continue to expand as a writer. That's the great thing about the indie industry. If you are committed to writing, having an outlet and a chance to hear what readers like (and what they don't like) can help you learn and grow. To me, that's what writing is all about...that's what life is all about.
Published 2013-12-18.
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Books by This Author

An Uncluttered Palette
By
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 73,410. Language: English. Published: January 11, 2013. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
After an accident destroys her hand, art teacher Rayna Hunt begins the long journey to recover her skill. Her quiet, safe world is further disrupted when an anonymous call to the police draws her into a case of forgery and art theft. She and a group of friends and students work to prove her innocence and solve the crime.
Flowers for Her Grave
By
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 78,070. Language: English. Published: April 10, 2011. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
When a young woman shows up in Raccoon Grove claiming to be a missing girl from a 20-year-old murder, the local gossip columnist and gardener team up to discover the truth. Accidents threaten to put a stop to their investigation and to the garden party where they plan to reveal what really happened. No one could have guessed the truth. Neither will you in this surprising whodunit.
The Woman in the Wing
By
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 70,660. Language: English. Published: January 11, 2011. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
A historical mystery that takes place in a defense plant. Although fictional, the well-researched book offers a glimpse into the lives of women who served at home during World War II, Rosie the Riveters, and sheds some light on the seldom told stories of the women who ferried military planes from plants to air bases around the country—Women Airforce Service Pilots—WASP.
Mrs. Quigley's Kidnapping
By
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 70,160. Language: English. Published: July 23, 2010. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
When Mattie Draper opened her Chicago detective agency in 1968, she was one of a handful of female Private Investigators nationwide. For three months, her greatest challenges were finding lost pets and wayward spouses—until someone kidnapped Diana Quigley. In a race to find the missing woman, Mattie tries to untangle the helpful information supplied by a growing lists of suspects.