Isabel Long is a bit banged up from her last case with a broken collarbone and her arm in a sling. But that doesn’t stop her from pouring beer at the Rooster Bar or taking her third case with Gary Beaumont, a local drug dealer who once terrorized her. Gary is convinced his brother didn’t jump off a bridge known for suicides. Somebody pushed him.
Gary’s brother was a boozer who drove for a highway crew. But what interests Isabel and her ‘Watson’ — her 93-year-old mother who lives with her — is that the man wrote poetry.
The chief suspects are one of Gary’s business associates and a famous poet who plagiarized his brother’s poetry for an award-winning book. Yes, he was that good.
As a journalist, Isabel did regular meetups with her sources for stories. She called it checking the traps. She does the same as a private investigator, and this time, she’ll make sure she doesn’t get caught in one.
1. When and where do you prefer to write?
I try to get up early, say 5 a.m., to write before I have to tend to any work obligations — well after I’ve fed the cat and got myself coffee. I aim for 500 words of new copy. A thousand is golden. As to where I write, I am lucky to have a desk my husband built me from walnut wood and a room to myself.
2. Do you have a certain ritual?
Not really. I just sit there, type, and see what comes onto the screen.
3. Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
Since I am up early, coffee is essential. I usually have half a bagel, toasted with jelly.
4. What is your favourite book?
To be honest, any book that makes me forget I’m reading is my favorite at the time. But if I have to choose, it would be Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
5. Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I currently am writing a mystery series, which is a different genre for me. Before that, I wrote what I would call literary fiction and middle-grade fiction. I may try a YA novel someday.
6. Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
I am one of those writers who takes what I know and has my way with it. But only two characters in my Isabel Long Mystery Series are inspired by people I know for real. The rest are made up and I like it that way.
I will admit Isabel Long, the protagonist, has a lot of me in her, especially since the series is written in first-person, present tense. Even though our circumstances are different, I would say our personalities are similar, a bit on the sassy side. Isabel’s 93-year-old mother is her sidekick, her ‘Watson’ you might say. I based this character on my own mother, who will be 95 in April.
7. Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
No, I don’t. Often ideas pop up when I am in the shower, working in the garden, driving, or any mindless chore. I have an excellent memory.
8. Which genre do you not like at all?
I am not into sci-fi or fantasy although my two middle-grade series have magical realism.
9. If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
I am a solitary writer, so I would take a pass on this opportunity.
10. If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
Definitely the Portuguese islands of the Azores and Madeira. My grandparents, on both sides of my family, emigrated from there. There’s got to be a novel there.
Thank you, Joan Livingston and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Checking the Traps, published by Crooked Cat Books, is the third in the mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. The first two are Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge.
An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure.
After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, she returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long mystery series.
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