My guest today is Jeanne Matthews. Jeanne was born and raised in
. She graduated from
the Georgia with a degree in
Journalism and has worked as a copywriter, a high school English and Drama
teacher, and a paralegal. She currently lives in University of Georgia with her husband, who
is a law professor, and a Renton, Washington West Highland terrier, who is a prima donna.
Anne – Welcome to my little corner of cyberspace, Jeanne. There is nothing more fun that talking writing with another author. Let’s not waste a second of our time together. Tell us about your most recent release.
Jeanne - My latest book is BONEREAPERS, in which Dinah accompanies three American senators and a powerful agribusiness mogul on a political junket to the
Svalbard “Doomsday” Seed Vault
in . The Americans harbor
devious ambitions and dangerous secrets, but a crusading journalist with a
grudge threatens to torpedo everyone’s agenda. Longyearbyen, Norway
In late December, Polar Night wraps around the little town of
like a lead blanket,
impenetrable and endless. The temperature rarely climbs above zero and bodies
don’t decompose in the permafrost. The dead have to be shipped south for burial
and soon, there are two murder victims headed south. On the way to solving the
crimes, Dinah becomes embroiled in the marital troubles of a presidential
candidate, the controversial politics of genetic engineering, and a scheme by
unscrupulous corporate interests to gain control of the world’s food supply. Longyearbyen
Anne – What a great premise! Would you share an excerpt of Bonereapers with us?
Jeanne – Absolutely! In the following scene, Dinah takes a stroll through Longyearbyen.
The first breath she drew outside the shelter of the Radisson seared her lungs and the welter of flying snow stung her eyes. She buried her nose in her collar and squinted down the street to her left. The town was lit up as if it were night, which of course it was, even if it was morning. She made binoculars out of her hands. Through the blur of white, she made out a jumble of yellow and blue and red and green squares, like pixels on a fuzzy screen. More from inference than from vision, she decided that the colors were houses. Boxy houses with peaked roofs arrayed on a hillside overlooking the main street. There were also colored rectangles that looked like railroad flatcars, probably apartments for the coal miners or the scientists and researchers who cruised in and out of town conducting various studies. A red steeple seemed to float atop the torrents of white, an ethereal reminder that the world’s northernmost settlement had not slipped the boundaries of Christendom.
She struggled against the headwind. Her eyeballs felt as if they were turning into gelato. It was impossible to gauge distances in this blizzard. Somewhere at the end of the street was the wharf and beyond that stretched the icy waters of
. The fact sheet posted
on the Radisson notice board warned guests not to venture beyond the wharf
unarmed because polar bears do not hibernate. They range along the shores of
the bay all winter, hunting tirelessly for seals. Or, if the opportunity,
arose, negligent tourists. Advent Bay
Dinah wonders what kind of theology sustained the ancient Norsemen who lived in this harsh and inhospitable environment. As she learns, they believed that the earth, itself, was created by an act of murder.
In the beginning, there was no earth, only fire and ice, with a space of dark, lawless emptiness in between. The gods longed for a pleasant, orderly universe. But unlike the Judeo-Christian God, they couldn’t create something out of nothing. They needed raw materials to work with. They looked around and saw Ymir, a frost giant whom they hated, and a light bulb went on. They saw in the giant everything that a well-structured world would need and, in short order, they murdered him for his parts. They fashioned the earth out of his skull and ground up his flesh to make dirt. The blood gushing from his wounds became the lakes and the seas. They made his teeth and bones into the rocks and mountains, his thick and curly hair into the trees, and his brains into clouds.
Norse mythology, decided Dinah, was not for the squeamish.
Anne - What one how-to write book is a must on your bookshelf? Why?
Jeanne - NEGOTIATING WITH THE DEAD by Margaret Atwood isn’t so much a how-to book as a why-to book. It is a marvelous exploration and discussion of the reasons writers write – the reason we devote our lives to inventing situations that never happened and characters who never existed. The book contains an eclectic collection of provocative quotes by other writers and is a source of constant inspiration for me.
Anne - How long did your journey from wannabe writer to published author take?
Jeanne - Approximately 17 years, during which time I lost count of the number of rejections. I now know that the longer you persevere and the more you write, the better you become and the more you appreciate success when it finally comes.
Anne - Quick, your five favorites – author, actor, movie, song, quote.
Jeanne - AUTHOR: I’m from
. It can’t be anyone
but Margaret Mitchell. ACTOR: Bette Davis, who should have played the part of
Scarlett O’Hara, but turned down the role, which she later regretted. And
currently, Kyra Sedgwick. I’m hooked on “The Closer.” MOVIE: “ Georgia ,” because I’m a
hopeless romantic at heart. SONG: “Stardust.” Ditto, as above. QUOTE: “I don’t
know what I think ‘til I see what I say.” ~ Flannery O’Conner. That sums
up my philosophy of writing. It is a process of constant discovery. Casablanca
Anne - How do you balance writing with online promotion and marketing?
Jeanne - I was raised to regard tooting one’s own horn as impolite, if not downright unseemly. Although I realize that it’s a necessary part of an author’s job to promote and “get the word out,” it’s not the most enjoyable part for me. I’m shy and sometimes I have to give myself a strong talking-to before I can psyche myself into a self-promoting frame of mind. That’s why sites like yours, Anne, are so wonderful and so helpful. I really appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me to introduce myself to your readers.
Anne – My pleasure. Like you, I find the promotional aspect of writing can be daunting. That’s part of the reason I prefer the ‘chat’ venue! Where can readers find you online?
Jeanne - I post to the Poisoned Pen Press Blog every other month on the 13th and occasionally do guest blogs for Buried Under Books and Poe’s Deadly Daughters. At the end of this summer, when I return from
where I will be
setting my next Dinah Pelerin mystery, I intend to start a blog of my own. Information
about my books, events, and future plans can be found on my website. Samos, Greece
Anne – I look forward to your blog posts, Jeanne, as well as some photos of
! Thanks so much for
dropping by and sharing an excerpt of Bonereapers with us. Greece
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