Night Crimes is my second novel. My first novel, The Fablesinger, was a fantasy set in the Caribbean.
Are you coming to writing from another career?
Yes, for over twenty years I was an adjunct English instructor at various colleges in New York City. In fact both The Fablesinger and Night Crimes were written while I was teaching.
What motivated you to write a mystery thriller like Night Crimes and set it in New York state?
I have always enjoyed mysteries and being married to a police officer meant that I was daily immersed in the world of police work and crime. We lived in New York City at the time and had a vacation home in Upstate, NY, so that became the natural setting for the story.
In Night Crimes, you have two separate mysteries going on at the same time. Did this pose research problems?
The stories were both clear in my mind, and I knew how I was going to bring them together, so they really didn’t pose a problem research or otherwise.
Can you give us an idea of what these two mysteries are about and how they shape the story?
Sure. Lara Bello is a New York City artist and art teacher who is convinced that someone is following her, watching her every move. But no one believes her, not even her loving husband Sergeant Tony Bello. Why should he? There is no reason why someone should want to follow an art teacher.
But the man in the blue baseball cap is pursuing Lara. He goes everywhere she does. He keeps vigil outside her Brooklyn Brownstone while she, her husband and three sons sleep. He follows her into her classroom, and tracks her to her farm upstate where she flees to escape him.
At the same time, Tony is also caught up in his own mystery. Someone is poisoning derelicts and leaving their bodies for him and his bicycle patrol squad to find.
These are the two stories that begin the world of Night Crimes. But it is how this ordinary husband and wife and their children act and think when confronted with such extraordinary circumstances that really shapes the narrative.
What were some of your sources?
I interviewed my husband, who was a sergeant and some of his colleagues for NYC police procedure and methods. I also interviewed a New York State Police Line Sergeant about State Police procedure, and I used the internet and the library as my other sources. Also, I am extremely familiar with all the places, in the city and upstate where the story’s action takes place.
Why will people relate to the characters in Night Crimes?
The characters are ordinary people like you or I who live normal lives until they get caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Even the villains appear, on the surface, like people we are acquainted with and meet every day. That’s one of the reasons why the terror becomes so real because the reader can imagine themselves experiencing it.
Which Character is your favorite?
I loved each character and relate to some, like Lara Bello, more than others. However, I enjoyed creating The Death Angel, the mysterious killer of derelicts, the most. I found this person fascinating. There are so many layers to this character, all intriguing.
Are the problems in your book based on real cases?
No, the story isn’t based on any specific case or cases. But women do get stalked in real life, and homeless people do get murdered. Also, I was followed home one night from the subway and that gave birth to the story.
Like some other mysteries, Night Crimes has a husband and wife team. What is unique about your husband and wife team?
They are unique because they both come from diverse backgrounds and move daily in worlds which are very different. They each bring to their relationship contrasting experiences and methods of coping with the events in their lives .Lara comes from a Caribbean country, Jamaica, and is an artist and art teacher. Tony comes from an Italian-American background and works in a world of law enforcement surrounded by crime and brutality. But despite this, probably because of this, they make a great team.
How long did it take to write Night Crimes.
It took me, on and off, about seven years to write because I was teaching in three different places at the time.
Who influenced you as a writer?
I have many different influences, my various life experiences, the different literary material I have been exposed to. I read a variety of fiction and non-fiction works. Some of my favorite fiction authors are Toni Morrison, Jane Austin, Anne Perry, Edgar Allen Poe, Ruth Rendell, Stephen King, Walter Mosley, Faulkner, Shirley Jackson, and Isabel Allende to name a few.
Do you have any advice for new writers trying to get published?
Just write for yourself. Write what you enjoy, and rewrite it until it’s the best you can do. Then send out manuscripts to agents & publishers and keep sending out until someone recognizes the value of your work and accepts it.
Are you working on anything now?
Yes I am working on a new mystery with a female detective as the hero. It’s mostly set in a psychiatric hospital where she is undercover as a patient.
Where can Night Crimes be purchased?
Night Crimes can be purchased online at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com or any of the other online bookstores. You can also purchase it from the publisher, Publishamerica.com or order it from your local bookstore. Readers can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for answering my questions, Judith.
It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.