Hi everyone! It’s been a while! But in the interim, I’ve finished the first draft of a standalone WIP (more about that sometime later) and I’ve gotten my first vaccine! Yay! But the world moves on, and that includes new books by friends and colleagues. Today, I’m happy to host Judy Copek, who (along with husband Hans) is a stalwart of the New England crime fiction scene. She’s celebrating her fifth mystery, Murder in the North Woods, and she’s here to talk about how this particular book came to be.
Murder in the North Woods: an amateur sleuth mystery. Actually, a reluctant sleuth mystery.
Years ago, when my husband and I dropped our two sons off at a scout camp in Wisconsin, I had no clue it would inspire a book. I was a young mom, not a writer.
When I found myself on a Y2K team to bring old software into the new century, I had no idea this difficult project would also inspire a book. But by then I was a writer.
I had no foreshadowing that my best friend from college would become a character in my book.
You go through life accumulating people and places and experiences, and something clicks, and you think, “I believe there’s a book there.” And so it was that with my profession in technology (at a shoe company) and my memories of the camp and little towns In the North Woods, and my wanting to put my friend when all her eccentricities into a novel, that I decided to write what became Murder In the North Woods.
My kids were grown (although one still trekked back to the camp for worker weekends). He had risen from camper to counsellor, to managing the food service to working with the Wilderness Engineers. He had a lot of stories and many of them were funny. They inspired me, but they are not in the book. They inform the book.
Writers know that conflict drives the plot. A must-not-fail project with know-it-all consultants and a sullen work force has major conflict A woman torn between her boyfriend and her husband is conflict to the max. My main character, Laura Goode, is so relieved to get a consulting gig away from home in a quiet town where she can think long and hard about her dilemma. But when she arrives in Wisconsin’s North Woods, Laura discovers her only contact is now a corpse. The information officer at Great Northern Shoe Company was a local lothario whose killer could be anyone from an enraged husband to a bitter factory worker whose job is heading overseas. Laura is in trouble from day one.
Judy was born in Montana, raised in Colorado, educated in Texas, and lived in suburban Chicago for years and now even more years in suburban Boston where she became a Red Sox fan, a Patriots fan, and a writer. An information systems nerd for years, she likes to show technology’s humor and quirkiness along with its scary aspects.
Murder in the Northwoods is her fifth published novel. The research trip to the area was one of the best vacations ever, she says, “with scenery, casinos, bars, intriguing discoveries, and tasty North Woods food. I never make up anything that I can borrow from real life like the garage apartment, the character of Reverend Josie, and the cottage by the lake. I moved some of the geography of Newton, Kansas to the fictional town of DuBois. Writers do strange things to create believable fiction. Y2K (remember the Millennium Bug?) pulls many of the story elements together, as I had worked on a project like the one on the book. My project, of course, had no murders and much less sex. Well, none. Characters misbehaving are fun to write and fun to read.”
Find Murder in the North Woods through all the usual outlets.
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