Julianne Holmes aka J.A. Hennrikus and I decided to try something different – an exchange interview. Not only is she my guest today, but I will be visiting her tomorrow on the Wicked Cozy Authors blog. http://wickedcozyauthors.com/2016/08/09/a-wicked-wecolme-to-debra-goldstein. To learn more about both of us, leave a message or a question on both blogsites.
1) You have had a career in arts management which has included establishing physical box offices, program operations, and running a non-profit that promotes and supports the arts. Most of this work translates to the performing arts and yet, today, we are talking about you and the written word. What made you chase wanting to be a writer when you obviously are already so well established in the theater related world?
I love working in arts administration—I’ve been doing it for over 30 years. But I’ve never been a creator in that field. I was always too afraid to try and go on stage. I found my passion, my work, in helping creators get their work seen. For me, writing taps into my own creativity. I’m not sure when I decided I wanted to write—fifth grade maybe—but I’ve been trying to get published for the past ten years, and finally had my dream come true last October.
2) You write another a different name – is there a reason for that? How did the premise for your books come to be and how did you get selected to write them?
There are two lessons in this story. First, when I started on this journey, I didn’t understand all the ways you could get published. I’m sure you didn’t either. One route is being a work for hire. An editor at Berkley had an idea for a series, and had created an outline and a wonderful premise. Second, I’ve been part of the mystery writing community for a long time, and met a group of women who had all recently gotten contracts. We decided to blog together, on the Wicked Cozy Authors blog. Via their agent, this opportunity was opened up, and I was connected to it. I had to write a proposal, and some sample chapters, and got the job.
Regarding the name, since it is a work for hire, I needed to find a penname. My parents were going to name me Julianne Holmes Hennrikus, but my grandmother told them it was too long, so I am Julie Anne Hennrikus. When I had to find another name, there wasn’t far to look.
3) Tell us about your books, especially their themes and your protagonist.
The Clock Shop Mystery series takes place in Orchard, Massachusetts, which is out in the Berkshires. Ruth Clagan inherits her grandfather’s clock shop, the Cog & Sprocket. She is also a clockmaker, but had a rift with him, so she is trying to heal that in JUST KILLING TIME. In the second book, CLOCK AND DAGGER, it is a few days before the New Year, and Ruth is trying to get the shop ready to be reopened.
I love writing this series. CLOCK AND DAGGER is about second chances, and throughout the series I try and show how Ruth not only fixes clocks, she fixes life in Orchard. Orchard also gives Ruth a chance to rethink her life path after a bad marriage. A handsome barber works next door, so there’s a little romance as well.
4) Clocks are not often a focal point in books, but you work knowledge about them in so well that one often doesn’t know something has just been taught. Do you do a lot of research? How? And how do you decide what to leave out?
As it turns out, I have a friend whose husband is a clock maker. I didn’t know that before the series, but I’m thrilled to have him helping me with research. I also went to visit the American Clock and Watch Museum, and spent hours wandering around. I do learn more than I use in the books. What I want people to feel is how beautiful timepieces are, and how much of an art it is to fix them. I will say that ever since I’ve been working on the series, I notice them in people’s houses, and always ask about them. There’s always a story attached to a clock. It’s almost like they keep memories as well as time. I love that.
5) You have been active in Sisters in Crime – how has that influenced you?
I would not have this series if it weren’t for Sisters in Crime. I wouldn’t have a group of wonderful friends, who’ve made this journey so much better by being part of my life. Sisters in Crime is an amazing organization, and resource. Becoming a member was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
6) Shamelessly plug your new book. Tell us how we can get it and what you are working on now.
LOL! CLOCK AND DAGGER is book #2 of the series, and came out August 2. It is available wherever folks get books. I’m finishing book #3 now, tentatively called CHIME AND PUNISHMENT. It will be out next year. I’m so grateful to be on this journey. Thanks so much for having me on the blog!
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The Clock Shop Mystery series debuted in October 2015 with Just Killing Time, which was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Clock and Dagger was released August 2, 2016. As J.A. Hennrikus she has had short stories published in Level Best Books anthologies: Her Wish in Dead Calm, Tag, You’re Dead in Thin Ice, The Pendulum Swings, Until It Doesn’t in Blood Moon. As Julie Hennrikus she runs StageSource, the service organization for the New England theater community. She is on Twitter (@JulieHennrikus), Instagram (@jahenn), Pinterest, and Facebook. She blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors, Live to Write/Write to Live, and is on Killer Characters on the 20th of each month. Julie is a board member of Sisters in Crime and the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She is also a member of Mystery Writers of America and the Guppies. JulianneHolmes.com