by Denise Swanson
Today the Femmes Fatales welcome New York Times Bestselling author Denise Swanson who writes both the Scumble River and Devereaux’s Dime Store mystery series. Denise was a practicing school psychologist for twenty-two years and grew up in a small town similar to Shadow Bend and Scumble River. She is married to classic music composer David Stybr and lives in Illinois with her cool black cat Boomerang.
Denise's latest mystery, Dead Between the Lines, debuts on March 4, 2014 but is already getting raves from Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal (a starred review!) and the Chicago Tribune.
Over to you, Denise!
Do you belong to a book club? If not, I bet you know someone who does. In the past few years, book clubs seem to be sprouting everywhere. My guess is that although Oprah may have started the phenomenon, others have picked up the ball and run with it. Ms. Winfrey’s stated purpose was to get more people reading and the novels she selected were often challenging. She dared her club’s members to read between the lines, which I was more than willing to do, but the fact that those books were often depressing made them difficult for me to enjoy. Would I have been willing to argue about them? I’m not sure.
Since becoming published, I’ve spoken at a great many book discussion groups. My first experience was at the Stepping Out Book Club, and they hold a special place in my heart. So when that group suggested that my next book should center on a book club meeting, I thought, yes, yes it should.
My sleuth, Devereaux Sinclair, owns Devereaux’s Dime Store, an old-fashioned variety store that she has opened up to various community groups. In Dead Between the Lines, my March book, the Shadow Bend, Missouri version of the Stepping Out Book Club hold their monthly meeting in Dev’s store and someone doesn’t make it home alive.
Researching the popularity of book clubs was interesting. I wanted to figure out why so many people were forming and/or joining book clubs. Was it to share ideas or for the social interaction or was it just an excuse to drink wine and eat some expensive cheese?
First and foremost, I’m a reader, so the idea of a book club meeting seemed like my kind of party. Or was it? Supposedly, a book discussion group would be a gathering of bookworms at which everyone could openly express their views of the book, talk about what they liked or disliked about it, and delve into the book’s true meaning. But anywhere there are differing opinions there are often hurt feelings.
As a psychologist, I was fascinated with the potential for conflict. What would happen if one member ardently disagreed with the majority? After all, many of these clubs are made up of divergent individuals of different ages, social backgrounds, and educational levels. Add to this that they discuss some touchy topics and the club becomes a fertile ground for heated debates and resentment.
And although the notion that the members could become upset over a differing point of view was intriguing, the idea of a guest author could stir up the situation even more was extra interesting. Especially an conceited, condescending jerk who felt he was brighter or more erudite, or just plain superior to the book club members—not that I’ve met any authors like that <wink>. Still, once the idea started bouncing around in my imagination, I couldn’t get rid of it until I wrote the story.
Have you ever attended a meeting with a speaker who was so obnoxious you wondered if he or she would make it out of the gathering alive?
Dead Between the Lines debuts on March 4, 2014. Here's a sneak preview:
Opening an old-fashioned five-and-dime shop in her small Missouri hometown has been a great change for Devereaux “Dev” Sinclair. To keep her new business in the black, Dev opens up her shop to local clubs. But in the first meeting of the Stepping Out Book Club, the speaker storms out after members attack his poetry’s sexism and scorn for small towns. Later that night, the poet’s body is found outside Dev’s store.
Dev can’t afford for the murder to close her down, so she does a little stepping out of her own to investigate, with help from her two sexy suitors, Dr. Noah Underwood and Deputy U.S. Marshal Jake Del Vecchio. But when the killer threatens Dev, they will have to use every trick in the book to solve the case before she becomes the final chapter in this murder mystery.
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