Margot Kinberg, Mystery Author, Blogger and Academic, is my Guest Author today: Her second appearance
Today I am excited to present
Mystery Author Margot Kinberg
as my guest.
This is her second appearance here.
She is the only author I’ve hosted twice.
Welcome Margot, do tell us what you have been up to since your last visit here:
Thanks so much for hosting me, Jane.
It’s my pleasure.
The publishing journey never quite works out the way we think it will. Ask any author, and you’ll hear that things often don’t go as planned. But sometimes, just when things seem to be going all wrong, something good comes of it all.
That’s basically what happened with my third Joel Williams novel, Past Tense. Let me tell you about it, and you’ll see what I mean.
A few years ago, I began work on what I thought was a very promising Joel Williams story. I had the characters, scenes, everything sketched out, and I was busily writing the first draft. I was optimistic about the plot, and I did like the main characters.
Then came disaster.
My hard drive died. Completely.
I had several things backed up on memory sticks, but not the novel.
I sent the drive to a data recovery firm, and they did recover bits and pieces of the novel, but not anything useful, really.
Word to the wise: if you don’t already have an account with Carbonite or another data backup company, today is the day to get one.
I learned my lesson the hard way.
As I said, though, good really did come out of the whole situation. Since I didn’t have my original story any more, I had to start anew.
That meant I had to re-think everything.
And that was a good thing. The result of beginning again was Past Tense.
A bit of my original idea found its way into Past Tense. Both stories are about past murders that come to light years later. And I do think Past Tense benefited from my having sketched out the earlier novel (I may yet return to that original cast of characters). So, in that sense, losing my data actually ended up making my writing better – well, in a strange, roundabout sort of way.
So, besides that lost novel, what inspired Past Tense?
I’ve always thought ‘cold cases’ were fascinating. They require an entirely different sort of approach to solving contemporary cases, and the police can’t rely on the same sources of information that they tap for current cases.
Even if ‘cold case’ witnesses are still alive, and still willing to cooperate, time does have an impact on their memories. There’s also the issue of forensics and other identification challenges.
But ‘cold cases’ are at least as important as current cases. That’s especially so for those who’ve lost loved ones and have never had the closure that comes with knowing the truth. And, for me, one of the most important aspects of any murder case, real or fictional, is the impact it has on the people involved.
Put that all together, and you have the reason I wanted to include a ‘cold case’ in my Joel Williams series.
What about the historical context?
The focus of Past Tense is a murder that took place in 1974.
The mid-1970s were pivotal years for US college campuses.
Many social issues (e.g. women’s place in society, the Vietnam War, race relations) were being debated. Student activism was an important part of campus life.
The Watergate scandal that brought down the Nixon administration made many people question what they were being told by those in authority.
With everything going on, it was, to say the least, an eventful time for colleges and universities, and a time of great change. So, what better time period for a ‘cold case’ sort of story?
With that background, here’s the blurb for Past Tense:
A long-buried set of remains…a decades-old mystery
Past and present meet on the quiet campus of Tilton University when construction workers unearth a set of unidentified bones.
For former police detective-turned-professor Joel Williams, it’s a typical Final Exams week – until a set of bones is discovered on a construction site…
When the remains are linked to a missing person case from 1974, Williams and the Tilton, Pennsylvania police go back to the past. And they uncover some truths that have been kept hidden for a long time.
How much do people really need to know?
It’s 1974, and twenty-year-old Bryan Roades is swept up in the excitement of the decade. He’s a reporter for the Tilton University newspaper, The Real Story, and is determined to have a career as an investigative journalist, just like his idols, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
He plans to start with an exposé article about life on the campus of Tilton University. But does everything need to be exposed? And what are the consequences for people whose lives could be turned upside down if their stories are printed?
As it turns out, Bryan’s ambition carries a very high price. And someone is determined not to let the truth out.
If you’d like to listen to an excerpt from Past Tense, it’s right here.
As you can see, the journey to publication for Past Tense was a bit rocky, especially at the start. But the end result was, I think, a lot better than it might have been if I hadn’t had to re-think the novel.
Sometimes, it takes a step or two back to help a person move forwards.
Thanks again, Jane, for hosting me!
Margot it has been my pleasure. Thanks so much.
I love reading about the publishing journey other authors have undertaken.
None of the trials and tribulations in achieving a published book is apparent to a reader when they turn the first page of something which has taken blood, sweat, and tears to write and get on the shelves.
Reading about your hard-drive problems and your having to write the book again from scratch rings so many bells with me, and others I am sure.
I’ve just completed two books which have taken forever to get finished – after many re-writes – and to my Publisher much longer after I’d intended, I know exactly how you felt when confronted with the loss of your work.
I am so happy you managed to complete Past Tense which I am reading and thoroughly enjoying at the moment.
It is especially enjoyable for me as you touch on Forensics and DNA and, as you may well have guessed, I love anything scientific to do with crime.
I do hope those visiting here and reading your guest post, will dash over to Amazon and purchase Past Tense. They won’t regret it I am sure. I am loving it.
Early in my writing adventure Margot kindly accepted two stories from me for inclusion in the Anthology, In A Word: Murder and I am forever grateful to her for giving me the opportunity to share my stories alongside her and so many other talented authors.
Links are on Amazon for the Paperback and e-Book editions.
I hope everyone enjoys reading about Margot and her writing and that you’ll leave her any comments or questions you might have for her in the usual manner.
If you’d like to read her earlier Guest Post with me: A Day in the Life of Joel Williams, here is the link:
Margot Kinberg is a mystery novelist who writes the Joel Williams series. She is also the editor of In a Word: Murder, an anthology of short crime stories. She has also written several non-fiction books and articles. Margot is also an Associate Professor, who’s been working in higher education since 1988. You can connect with Margot at her blog Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, where you can read her daily posts on crime fiction and find out more about the Joel Williams series. Margot’s also on Twitter, on Facebook and on Google+. You can also read her short crime fiction stories on Wattpad.