Location as a Character with Heather Weidner
Thank you so much for letting me visit. I’m Heather Weidner, and my mysteries, Secret Lives and Private Eyes and The Tulip Shirt Murders (November 2017) are set in and around Central Virginia, primarily in Chesterfield County, Amelia County, Farmville, Petersburg, and Richmond.
My husband and I (and our two crazy Jack Russell terriers) have called his region home since 1991. I’m a transplant from Virginia Beach, but I love the Central Virginia area. The region with its mix of rural, suburbia, and urban neighborhoods is a great place to live and write novels. I work in downtown Richmond on a hill above the former Tredegar Ironworks with one of the best views in RVA. This region is home to the state capital, but in many ways, it’s still a close-knit community. And I’m excited to share the big city/small town feel of the area with my readers.
The location gives me a lot of freedom to develop my mystery in a world with trees, cows, farmland, suburbia, skyscrapers, and the mighty James River. My sleuth, Delanie Fitzgerald, is a spunky private investigator with a knack for getting in and out of humorous situations. She lives in a quaint Sears and Roebuck catalog bungalow that fits her quirky style. While there are some catalog homes in the Hopewell area, I took the liberty of moving one to Chesterfield County for my private eye. From 1908 to 1940, the homes were originally ordered and delivered by rail to the owners who assembled them on their property. Delanie’s home is the Yates model, and new, the price ranged from $1,812 to $2,058 in 1938.
Central Virginia is on the I-95 corridor, close to Washington, DC, the beach, and the mountains. My character zips around the countryside and through the city in her black Mustang. She investigates clues or tails suspects in and around many historic and popular locales, including: Belle Island, Bon Air, Brandermill, Byrd Park, Carytown, Church Hill, Kanawha Canal, Library of Virginia, Main Street Station, Maymont, the Poe Museum, and Shockoe Slip. In the back of my novels, I always include a short list of the locales that are real.
I also write short stories, and so far, these have all been set in Virginia. The idea for “Spring Cleaning” (Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II 2016) came when we moved our offices at work. The moving company brought in large rolling bins for packing, and that gave me idea for some office spring cleaning when I realized the bin could hold a body.
Sometimes, I get ideas for crimes and capers from real cases, but I usually take liberties with the details. In my short story, “Washed up,” (Virginia is for Mysteries 2014) a beat-up suitcase washes up on Chick’s Beach (Virginia Beach), and it’s filled with some mysterious contents. Back in the ‘80s, there was a real case where suitcases filled with body parts did wash up on beaches along the East Coast. In my story, I thought it would be interesting for beachgoers to find something old and sinister in an unexpected place.
In “Par for the Course” (50 Shades of Cabernet 2017), a murder/accident (You decide.) occurs on a Richmond golf course. While the city and its surroundings are real, I made up the golf course on the granite cliffs overlooking the James River. I try not to have horrific crimes occur at real locations.
While the story, characters, and the murders are fiction, many of the locales are real, and I hope it provides readers some insight into a region jam-packed with four hundred years of American history, unique restaurants, and Southern flair.
Heather Weidner’s short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, Lethal Ladies Write, and James River Writers. The Tulip Shirt Murders is her second novel in her Delanie Fitzgerald series.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.
Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan College and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She blogs regularly with the Lethal Ladies and Pens, Paws, and Claws.
The Tulip Shirt Murders Synopsis
Private investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in The Tulip Shirt Murders. When a local music producer hires the duo to find out who is bootlegging his artists’ CDs, Delanie uncovers more than just copyright thieves. And if chasing bootleggers isn’t bad enough, local strip club owner and resident sleaze, Chaz Smith, pops back into Delanie’s life with more requests. The police have their man in a gruesome murder, but the loud-mouthed strip club owner thinks there is more to the open and shut case. Delanie and Duncan link a series of killings with no common threads. And they must put the rest of the missing pieces together before someone else is murdered.
The Tulip Shirt Murders is a fast-paced mystery that appeals to readers who like a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations such as larping and trading elbow jabs with roller derby queens.
Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com
Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ