Jennifer S. Alderson


Jennifer S. Alderson worked as a journalist and website developer in Seattle, Washington, USA, before trading her financial security for a backpack. After traveling extensively around Asia and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before finally settling in the Netherlands. There she earned degrees in art history and museum studies. Home is now Amsterdam, where she lives with her Dutch husband and young son.

Jennifer’s travels and experiences color and inform her internationally-oriented fiction. Her first novel, Down and Out in Kathmandu: A Backpacker Mystery, is a travel fiction adventure through Nepal and Thailand. The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery, her second book, is a suspenseful 'whodunit' which transports readers to wartime and present day Amsterdam. Both are part of an on-going yet stand-alone series following the adventures of traveler and culture lover, Zelda Richardson. The third installment, another art-related travel thriller (Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery) will be released in the January 2018.

Her travelogue, Notes of a Naive Traveler, is a must-read for those interested in learning more about – or wishing to travel to – Nepal and Thailand.

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Smashwords Interview

What inspired this story?
In September 1999, just weeks before my twenty-seventh birthday, I flew to Kathmandu to volunteer for three months before backpacking around Nepal and Thailand on my own for another two. During my volunteer experience and travels, I sent weekly emails to family and friends describing all of the strange, exciting and beautiful things and events I’d witnessed or taken part of. It was my first trip abroad and such an amazing journey, yet so intense. Writing those messages was a great way to process everything. After I returned home to Seattle, friends kept asking me what I was going to do with the emails I’d sent. I was so focused on settling down and working full-time again that I hadn’t even looked at them since leaving Asia! Only after an acquaintance presented me with a bound copy of all of my texts and suggested I publish them as a traveler’s diary, did I finally decide to use my experiences as the basis for this book.
What are you working on next?
Stolen art and the Second World War play an important role in my second novel, The Lover’s Portrait (out in June 2016); the story of an American art student who finds clues to the location of a collection of masterpieces that had disappeared during the Second World War. The subject matter is directly influenced by my move to the Netherlands and choice to study museology at the University of Amsterdam. After arriving, I became fascinated by the Second World War, a topic I knew embarrassing little about. You can learn so much about that period simply by walking around Amsterdam; there are a plethora of monuments and signs commemorating resistance actions and Nazi retaliations spread throughout the city, not just at the Anne Frank House!

In a few days, I’ll be sending the final manuscript of The Lover’s Portrait off to my editor so she can proofread it. Yeah! As soon as the second novel is out the door, I’ll get back to finishing the first draft of my third novel, another art-related mystery. This yet-to-be-named manuscript’s plot was directly inspired by a few quirky facts I’d read about while working on an exhibition for the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam about Papua New Guinean bis poles collected by the legendary anthropologist Michael Rockefeller.

I’ll be the first to admit that my upcoming novels do differ dramatically from my first in style, genre and subject matter. I wrote Down and Out in Kathmandu: adventures in backpacking (December 2015) as a travel adventure for the ‘backpacker fiction’ genre because I wanted to do something with my own experiences backpacking through Asia and this was the best style for the story. The Lover’s Portrait is a mystery simply because it was the most effective means of sharing my fascination with the artistic and cultural history of the Netherlands in a way that I hope will reach and interest my readers!
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Jennifer S. Alderson online

Where to buy in print


Notes of a Naive Traveler: Nepal and Thailand
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 34,230. Language: English. Published: May 13, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » Specialties & interests, Nonfiction » Travel » By region
Part cultural and adventure travel guide, part journey of self-discovery, this travelogue takes you on a backpacking adventure through Nepal and Thailand. It also provides a first-hand account of one volunteer’s experience teaching in a Nepali school and living with a devout Brahmin family. A must-read for those interested in learning more about Nepal and Thailand.
The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery
Series: Adventures of Zelda Richardson. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 99,840. Language: English. Published: June 23, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
American art history student Zelda Richardson discovers clues to the whereabouts of a cache of missing masterpieces buried somewhere in Amsterdam, hidden away in 1942 by a Dutch art dealer who’d rather die than turn his collection over to his Nazi blackmailer.
Down and Out in Kathmandu: A Backpacker Mystery
Series: Adventures of Zelda Richardson. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 84,980. Language: English. Published: December 28, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Travel, Fiction » Mystery & detective » International crime
An idealistic backpacker volunteering as an English teacher in Nepal finds herself entangled with an international gang of smugglers whose Thai leader believes she’s stolen their diamonds.

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