J. WOOLLCOTT – Detective Sergeant Ryan McBride Returns

Woollcott is a Canadian author born in Belfast, N. Ireland. She is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. She has won the RWA Daphne du Maurier Award for Mainstream Mystery and Suspense, has been long-listed in the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence in 2019 and 2020 and short-listed in 2021. She was a Silver Falchion Award finalist at Killer Nashville in 2023 and again in 2024 and a Killer Nashville Claymore Award finalist in 2024.

 BEING THERE… I wrote the majority of my first book, A NICE PLACE TO DIE during Covid, and while so much was bad about that period, it brought with it time to think, and more importantly, to write. A NICE PLACE TO DIE is set in Northern Ireland, and like many other writers, I could not travel to do research. On-line and memory—that’s what I used.

I was born and raised in Belfast and its suburbs, and my memories played a huge part in the story. The setting, Northern Ireland, became a major character in my books. It’s a quirky little country, sometimes dark and gloomy, sometimes sunny and bright.

Both my hero, Detective Sergeant Ryan McBride, and the investigation he faced had to be meticulously researched. For that I was lucky enough to have a relative who was in the police, and I also found a fabulous resource in a retired British Chief Inspector who loved reading and was happy to advise.

Still, even though I have such vivid memories of the place—Belfast, the small towns, the countryside and the weather, things change. I realised that If I want my books to remain true and relevant, I needed to head home for a research trip to check out locations for my new work in progress, tentatively titled, A DESOLATE GRAVE.

This will also be the first time I’ll have the chance to revisit the locations in my current books. In those books I used a few places that I’ve never been to in person, and now I want to go over and check them out. Shaneoguestown Road for example, exists. I have never been there, yet it’s the road where my hero, DS Ryan McBride lives and where he walks his wire-haired fox terrier, Finn.

At the beginning of A NICE PLACE TO DIE the crime scene is in Portglenone Forest. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there and I plan to go down to where Ryan examines the body and gets a terrible shock. The police station where Ryan works still stands, but is no longer in use, I’d like to walk by and see it again. It will be interesting to go home to Northern Ireland with a real purpose—I’ll be taking notes and lots of photos.

My first book, A NICE PLACE TO DIE was released in 2022. BLOOD RELATIONS in 2023. Both books are widely available to buy as paperbacks, ebooks, and audiobooks.

A NICE PLACE TO DIE – When a young woman is found murdered near Belfast, Detective Sergeant Ryan McBride makes a heart-wrenching discovery at the scene, a discovery he chooses to hide even though it could cost him the investigation––and his career.

As he seeks the killer, his suspects die one by one, leading him finally to a dangerous family secret and a murderer who will stop at nothing to keep it.

BLOOD RELATIONS – Retired Chief Inspector Patrick Mullan is found brutally murdered in his bed. Detective Sergeant Ryan McBride is called to his desolate country home to investigate. In his inquiry, he discovers a man whose career was overshadowed by violence and corruption. Is the killer someone from Mullan’s past, or his present? And who hated the man enough to kill him twice?

Set in Belfast and the richly atmospheric countryside around it, Ryan once again faces a complex investigation with wit and intelligence.

You can find her at…
https://www.jwoollcott.com
https://x.com/JoyceWoollcott
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100085460524148
https://www.instagram.com/j.woollcott/?hl=en

14 Comments

  1. Arthur Vidro

    Joyce, I always knew you were a fine writer, but I never knew you were from (Northern) Ireland. My wife grew up in County Laois.

    Best wishes to you and A Desolate Grave.

    Reply
  2. Donnell Ann Bell

    Joyce, you know full well I love Ryan McBride and your books. I’m green as an Irish landscape that you get to travel there. We were supposed to go in 2020, and, well, you know what happened there. Congratulations!

    Reply
    • Joyce

      Thank you Donnell Ann! And you’ll get there eventually. 🙂 Joyce

      Reply
  3. Peg Roche

    Having lived and traveled in both the north and south of Ireland some years ago, I look forward to reading your work. Best of luck to you and thanks to George for the introduction!

    Reply
    • Joyce

      Thank you, Peg, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the series! Joyce

      Reply
  4. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    There is nothing better than being there for showing instead of telling, heh, Joyce and George? And dear Joyce, may the new experiences be rich and enhancing all the more.
    Pam

    Reply
    • Joyce woollcott

      I think it’s going to be a really fun trip Pamela! If the sun shines occasionally!

      Reply
  5. Marie Sutro

    Nothing quite as fun as visiting your book settings! These books sound great!

    Reply
    • Joyce

      Thanks Marie, I’m looking forward to the trip… And not just the pub lunches!

      Reply
  6. Michael A. Black

    Congratulations on your success, Ms. Woollcott. Ireland is well known for producing great writers so you’re in good company. Your books sound interesting. Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Joyce woollcott

      Thanks Michael, here’s hoping that someday I can be half as good as all those other wonderful Irish writers, Joyce. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Lis Angus

    Joyce is a wonderful writer — atmospheric, character-driven with strong plots, she has it all. And the story arc for Ryan McBride shapes up nicely. Hoping there’ll be another in the series at some point — I want to know what’s next in store for Ryan, Billy and the rest of the crew.

    Reply
    • Joyce

      Thank you Lis, for the great comments! 🙂

      Reply

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J.A. JANCE – The Novel Not Published – YET

A couple of years ago, when it was time for me to write the next Beaumont book, Nothing to Lose, I ended up sending my fictional pal of some forty years standing off to Alaska in the dead of winter. Beau is a Seattle native. Trust me, Seattle natives have NO idea how to drive in snow. Not only that, he’s a guy of a certain age (My age, actually!) who happens to have two titanium knees. Naturally, Mel Soames, his wife, is deeply concerned about driving around on his own in a rental car amid really dodgy winter weather. Eventually, she prevails upon him to hire a driver—for the day. Make that, supposedly for the day.

When I’m writing a book and a new character shows up, it’s my job to give that person a name. So, as I was sitting here in my writing chair (Which I happen to be doing right now.) I put on my thinking cap. Pretty soon a name popped into my head—Twinkle Winkleman, aka Twink for short. Just the thought of her name made me smile because I knew that someone stuck with a handle like that was bound to be every bit as tough as Johnny Cash’s boy named Sue.

So if Twink was living in wintertime Anchorage and running a car service, what kind of vehicle would she have? Let’s see. Bill, my husband, has always been a car guy. We follow the Formula 1 races on TV and have actually managed to attend three in person—in Monaco, Austin, and Indianapolis. We watch some Indy car races and a few Nascar ones, too, but we also follow things like Chasing Classic Cars, Roadworthy Rescues, and Wheeler Dealers.

In the last Wheeler Dealer season filmed in the US, the vehicle Mike and Ant brought back from the brink of death was a 1973 International Harvester Travelall. They removed the shag carpet from inside, cleaned up the engine, and reinstalled the outside luggage rack. I knew International Harvester made tractors. (My father actually gave my mother one of those for her birthday one year, and she loved it!) However I had no idea International Harvester made automobiles. It turns out that the Travelall is the great, great grandaddy of every SUV you see on the road today.

And that’s when I decided that was exactly what Twinkle Winkelman needed—a 1973 International Harvester Travelall complete with a snowplow attachment along with a luggage rack loaded with crates of spare parts. (When you’re driving around in the wilds of Alaska in an antique vehicle, you can’t expect to find an AutoZone carrying the parts you need on every street corner.)

As a character, Twinkle Winkleman turned out to be a tough nut to crack. She was supposed to be in the book for one day only, but when it came time for her to exit stage left, she refused to go quietly. She ended up hanging in there until the bitter end of the book, including the literal crashing climax. And do you know what happened? As far as Nothing to Lose is concerned, Twink ended up stealing the show. My readers loved her, and they begged me to bring her back.

But there was a big problem with that. Twink is someone who’s Alaska personified—tough minded, independent, and capable as all get out. I’ve been to Alaska exactly three times in my life—twice on cruises and once for Left Coast Crime. I don’t know nearly enough about Alaska to be able to set an entire novel there, but I decided I could see my way clear to write a novella—and that’s where Girls’ Night Out enters the picture.

Girl’s Night Out is Twinkle Winkleman in all her feisty glory. It will be published as an ebook only on July 23, 2024. I’m sure some DTR’s, my Dead Tree Readers, will accuse me of “going over to the dark side” here, but that’s the situation on the ground in publishing today. The time when publishers did little stand-alone paperbacks of novellas has, unfortunately, come and gone, and Girls’ Night Out is too long to be printed in the upcoming hardback edition of the next Beau book, Den of Iniquity, due out September 11. Readers of the novella will, however, get a short preview of DOI .

So for those of you who pleaded with me to revisit Twinkle Winkleman? As they used to say in that old Toyota commercial: You asked for it? You got it.

J.A. Jance’s Website is www.jajance.com

10 Comments

  1. Merrily Boone

    Loved hearing your comments about your newest book. I remember the days of PNWC when your books were first out. I’ve met you several times and enjoyed it. My mom was Laurie at the Dog House and I can remember your signings there. So I am a really old fan.
    Keep writing your wonderful books.

    Reply
  2. Debra H. Goldstein

    Interesting comments about the novella and publishing. Glad you may not have written the “book,” but you gave us the novella to enjoy Twink a little more — hope she shows up again, even in another novella.

    Reply
  3. Kassandra Lamb

    I’m a huge J.A. Jance fan, although the Joann Brady books are my favorites. But I love Beau as well. And now a new character to get to know—Twink.

    And what an awesome vehicle she drives!

    Reply
    • Kassandra Lamb

      Oops, left the “a” off of Joanna Brady’s name…

      Reply
  4. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Looks like Twink is back by popular demand. Love the origin story,

    Reply
  5. Barbara Hodges

    Oh Boy. More books to add to my TBR list. Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself with us.

    Reply
  6. Margaret Mizushima

    I love Twink too. She’s a great character. Thank you for bringing her back in her own story! I have loved your work for decades! Looking forward to seeing you at Third Place Books!

    Reply
  7. Marilyn Meredith

    Been a long-time fan of this series. Years ago, I met you at the San Joaquin Sisters in Crime meeting in the Tower District of Fresno.

    Reply
  8. Steve Rush

    Thank you, Ms. Jance for sharing a bit of Twink’s background. You hooked me. I want to learn more about this feisty character and where you take us in Girl’s Night Out.

    Thank you, George.

    Reply
  9. Marie Sutro

    Love this and can’t wait to hang out with Twink!!

    Reply

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BARBARA M. HODGES – Her Surprise Book

Barbara M. Hodges is the author or co/author of 17 fiction books. She lives on the central coast of California with her husband of over 50 years, Jeff. The two of them share their lives with two sassy rescue basset hounds, Heidi and Monty. When Barbara is not writing, she creates works of art with polymer clay, beads, and machine embroidery.

Her books are all on Amazon, most available as e-books.

Ice, One Last Sin, A Spiral of Echoes, and Hounded By Death are audiobooks as well.

Barbara is a proud member of the Public Safety Writers Association. She urges readers and writers of crime fiction to check the organization out at policewriter.com.

My Surprise Book – My latest suspense fiction book came as a surprise to me.

My sister-in-law and her husband live on the big island in Hawaii. Last year we went to visit them. I have problems with motion sickness, so I can’t read on an airplane. I had an audiobook loaded on my Kindle Fire. That was my plan to ease the boredom on the five-hour flight. You know what they say about the best-laid plans? I forgot my noise-canceling headphones and lost interest in the book about twenty minutes into the flight. Not important. I’m a plotter when I write. I admire authors who can write without a plan, but I’m not one of them. So, here I was with four hours to work on the plot for the third book in my Beyond Investigations series.

But something else kept interfering. A woman named Brandie kept whispering in my head.

Brandie was on a flight to Hawaii, and, surprise, she also had motion sickness issues. Brandie was to get married at sunset on the beach and have a wonderful honeymoon. The problem was the bride-to-be was having second thoughts about getting married. And she was on the way to Kona, Hawaii, where her first love lived.

That’s where the writer’s best friend kicked in, what if. Staring out the airplane window with nothing to see but white clouds and blue sky, I started my what-ifs. What if Brandie reconnected with her first love? What if that old flame flared? What if that old love was to be the best man at her upcoming wedding?

Musing on Brandie’s problems was fun, but I pushed them aside. I needed to work on Hounded By Hope. I was four chapters into it. Unlike some authors, I can only work on one book at a time. I’m the same way with reading a book…one at a time.

Jeff’s sister knows a lot about Hawaiian history. On a day trip to the beautiful scenic Puuhouna Ohonaunau National Park, we started talking about the Hawaiian gods and goddesses and the ancient heiaus(altars) on the island. We visited one, and I was awe-struck by their simplistic beauty. Someone had brought an offering, a puka shell necklace, draped it on the heiau. I write suspense fiction, and as I stared at that necklace, a thought came to me. What if a twisted mind used those beautiful altars for his grisly sacrifices? More questions followed that thought. Had the ancient Hawaiians performed human sacrifice? Who could stop such evil from destroying more lives in beautiful Hawaii?

The storyline wouldn’t leave me alone. Murders had been occurring for 15 years. How could someone become aware of what was happening? Enter Hawaiian County Police Officer Alana Lee and a washed ashore body on a remote county beach.

And, surprise, Alana Lee has a cousin who is on her way to Hawaii with her best friend Brandie, who is getting married. Or is she?

On the five-hour return flight, my surprise book, Deadly Rituals…The Shark Teeth Murderer came into being. Check it out if you’d like to know how everything comes together.

 

Website : barbaramhodges.net

Email: barbaramaehodges@gmail.com

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/barbarahodges

31 Comments

  1. Valerie J Brooks

    Oh, my goodness! Talk about a hook! Now I’ll have to find out how it plays out.
    I love how you tell the process of a writer’s mind. Yes, sometimes the ideas come from what we think are upsets. Gets the ol’ grey cells operating. Thanks for this blog, Barbara!

    Reply
    • Barbara Hodges

      You’re welcome, Valerie. I had fun writing this post.

      Reply
  2. Barbara Hodges

    George, thank you for hosting me on your blog. I enjoyed it.

    Reply
  3. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    A well-told story, Barbara (and George). Isn’t it great the way ‘What if…?’ shows up, invited or not? And as this tale tells us, sometimes it brings with it Writer Magic.

    Reply
    • Barbara Hodges

      Yes. I love the, what ifs.

      Reply
  4. Cindy Goyette

    Great blog! Love to hear where ideas come from.

    Reply
    • Barbara Hodges

      So many ideas for books. So little time to make them all happen. I know you know that I mean.

      Reply
  5. J.H. Jones

    What a terrific description of how you discovered your book. By observing and asking thought-provoking questions of yourself, a wonderful plot came into being. You remind us that all writers have inspiration in the world around us and can take advantage of it. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Barbara Hodges

      Isn’t it funny how things can grab us and not let go.

      Reply
  6. Darlene Record

    Good interview and sounds like a great story. Look forward to reading your latest book.

    Reply
    • Barbara Hodges

      Thanks. I am so looking forward to seeing you at the conference in Vegas.

      Reply
  7. Thonie Hevron

    Great interview, Barbara! I’m looking forward to reading Deadly Rituals!

    Reply
    • Barbara Hodges

      Thank you. It’s going to be strange not seeing you in Vegas this year.

      Reply
  8. Marie Sutro

    Love the Big Island and love when characters whisper!

    Reply
    • Barbara Hodges

      It’s when they start demanding that becomes a problem. (smile)

      Reply
  9. Cindy Sample

    I’m a sucker for any mystery that takes place on the Big Island and your book sounded particularly enticing, Barbara. I love the background of how DEADLY RITUALS came to be. Just downloaded it and can’t wait to read it.

    Reply
  10. Mysti Berry

    Looking forward to reading your surprise!

    Reply
  11. Steve Rush

    Nice interview, Barbara. You found a seed and like a good writer, knew what to do with it. You planted it on the page and watched it grow into a published story. Isn’t writing great? I look forward to reading Deadly Rituals.

    Reply
  12. Michael A. Black

    Sounds like a real winner, Barbara. I hope you’ll have copies at the conference.

    Reply
    • Barbara Hodges

      I will. And you must read the scene where two of my people, trapped in a vintage trailer, kick the door open to get out.

      Reply
  13. J.L. Greger

    You’re a good salesman. The novel sounds intriguing.

    Reply
    • Barbara Hodges

      Thanks, Janet. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

      Reply
  14. Peg Roche

    I just finished “Deadly Rituals” and will be posting my review shortly. It was great! Really creepy and an enjoyable read, so thanks! We never do know where our ideas will come from, right? Good luck!

    Reply
    • Barbara Hodges

      Thanks, Peg. I’m glad you enjoyed the book. I always love to see reviews.

      Reply
  15. Marilyb Meredith

    What a great way to come up with more details for your mystery, on a plane to Hawaii.
    Fun post, Barbara. So sad I won’t get to see you this year at PSWA.

    Reply
  16. Barbara Hodges

    Thanks, Vicki. I’m guilty of not having a pen and paper handy when some of those random thoughts strike.

    Reply
  17. Vicki Weisfeld

    sounds great, Barbara! Those random thoughts are why writers should always have pen and paper with them! Seeds of future best-sellers. Your plot reminded me of a true story a friend told me. He and his huge family were traveling to Hawai`i for a destination wedding, and when he was getting off the plane, a cousin spotted him and rushed up, saying, “Don’t mention the wedding.” Oops. A serious case of cold feet! They all were gathered together for several days with a very large white-satin-dressed elephant in the room.

    Reply

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