Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Conversation with Mystery Author Valeria Wenderoth

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Valeria Wenderoth
with Valeria Wenderoth

We are delighted to welcome author Valeria Wenderoth to Omnimystery News today.

Valeria's new first in series mystery featuring Colorado police Lieutenant Mark Sorensen is Bad by the Numbers (December 2014 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we had the opportunity to spend some time with her to talk about it.

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Omnimystery News: Tell us a little more about your series character.

Valeria Wenderoth
Photo provided courtesy of
Valeria Wenderoth

Valeria Wenderoth: Mark Sorensen is the lieutenant of a small police department in Brighton, Colorado. He's a great guy, a bit of a rebel, a man of few words and integrity; he's a sharp observer and a leader. His team will follow him without hesitation. He has his problems, but deals with them. A reviewer pinpointed his character with great precision, "He is a man with inner tensions and life stresses, but thankfully not driven by intense inner demons." Sorensen is definitely my type.

OMN: How do you expect the character to evolve over the course of the books in the series?

VW: I like to develop my characters. Life and people change, and so do my characters. They change with age, relationships, work, and external events. They are my friends — even the bad guys — and we grow together.

OMN: Into which mystery genre would you place your book?

VW: Bad by the Numbers is full of action and suspense; it's a police procedural in that I follow the procedures in a realistic way; it has good and bad guys — but it's not that simple; and it's a mix of a typical American-style thriller and a European police procedural. They should call it, "the Wenderoth genre." Just kidding.

OMN: Tell us something about the book that isn't mentioned in the synopsis.

VW: Bad by the Numbers was inspired by true events: a shooting that occurred in Huntsville, Alabama, in 2010; and international scams that occurred in Toulon, France, in 2009, and in Washington State during the years 2001 to 2011. I can't say more or I'll spoil my readers' experience.

OMN: Describe your writing process.

VW: In a mystery you must know a priori at least the beginning, the general development of facts, and the end. You can always change anything you want, of course, but you must have a general plan. I planned the whole plot and characters of Bad by the Numbers before starting to write it. As I went along with my story, however, some characters refused to participate, others appeared, others yet started to make problems with each other … I had to listen to what they wanted and change the narrative accordingly. Writing is a funny business.

OMN: You mentioned that Bad by the Numbers was inspired by true events. How did you go about researching the plot points of the story?

VW: My books are inspired by true events so it entails a lot of research. I certainly shape those facts and change people's names, outcomes, locations and circumstances as it pleases me. Still, I thoroughly check those facts and their impact on the press. Also, I try to make the scenarios as realistic as I can, so I ask a lot of questions to experts. I've exchanged emails with police chiefs, lieutenants and sergeants, explosive researchers and forensic experts. They all answered and helped me a great deal.

The most exciting part of my research for Bad by the Numbers was finding the published material about a particular international scam (I'm not going to tell you) and how the authorities dealt with it. Reality surpasses fiction and it's a superb feed for creation.

OMN: How true are you to the settings in the book?

VW: My settings are absolutely true with geography and descriptions. In Bad by the Numbers the locations are Denver, Brighton and Commerce City, CO, and Paris, France. I know very well the areas where the action takes place. I knew them before writing the book. After I finished writing, I went back to Paris and checked the locations again, just for the fun of it. As I strolled on Place Denfert-Rochereau, I thought I saw one of my characters, Nick, walking towards his hotel. Creepy.

OMN: What are some of your outside interests? And have any of these found their way into your book?

VW: I teach college and I love my job, so I guess it can be considered my hobby. The academic world is a strong presence in my novels. In that world I find an incredible variety of characters and a solid amount of political intrigue. There is plenty to draw from and to elaborate for a hundred mysteries. I'm also a big fan of technology (I'm the Founder and Principal of Book Trailer Sync, a company that makes book trailers for published books and ebooks) and that enthusiasm is reflected in Bad by the Numbers, especially in the character of Selma.

OMN: Complete this sentence for us: "I am a mystery author and thus …".

VW: I am a mystery author and thus I'm fun.

OMN: How did Bad by the Numbers come to be titled?

VW: The book title is a play with the words, "bad numbers," numbers being a big amount of money coming from a bad business, and "by the numbers," which refers to something you'll find out half way through the book.

OMN: Was this your working title while you were writing it?

VW: No, Bad by the Numbers was not the original title. The original title was The Verrier Files. I changed it for two reasons. First, the original title sounded too much as an FBI deal or some sort of a dossier used by a law firm, neither part of the story. Second, as I was working on the book, I decided it should be part of a series featuring Lieutenant Sorensen, and each book should include the word "Bad" in the title.

OMN: How involved were you in the cover design?

VW: I was involved 100% with the cover. I created it! I love the blue/black/steel combination of colors. The image reflects the original dilemma of the story: after the killer fires two shots, the police finds that in her five-cylinder gun there are only two empty slots. The gun on the cover shows that. On the cover you can also see a logo with a lyon: that plays a part in story too, but, alas, to understand its meaning you have to read the book.

OMN: Suppose Bad by the Numbers were to be adapted for television or film. Who would play the key roles?

VW: Lieutenant Sorensen should be played by David Strathairn. It's him. The other characters, I'm not sure. Nick could be, maybe, James Franco. For Selma I'd need a younger version of Salma Hayek.

OMN: Create a Top 5 list for us on any topic.

VW: My characters listen to music and so do I. Top 5 favorite jazz musicians:

• Miles Davis;
• Thelonius Monk;
• Charlie Parker;
• John Coltrane; and
• Charles Mingus.

OMN: What's next for you?

VW: Next thing for me is writing. And after that, more writing. I'd like to continue doing what I'm already doing: teach, travel as much as I can, learn to cook new dishes, read a lot, and expand my business, Book Trailer Sync. All of that next to my family.

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Valeria Wenderoth was born in Italy on a fresh summer evening. She was raised bilingual (Italian and French) and lived in Rome until she moved to Hawaii, then Colorado, and lately to Florida. She holds a PhD in Music History and has been a professor at the University of Hawaii for many years. She presently develops and teaches graduate and undergraduate online courses.

For more information about the author, please visit her website at and her author page on Goodreads, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Bad by the Numbers by Valeria Wenderoth

Bad by the Numbers
Valeria Wenderoth
A Mark Sorensen Mystery

While jogging, explosives expert Nick Harris finds a driver's license at Denver City Park. Never dreaming of the sinister consequences of his simple act, he pockets it and flies to Paris for a conference. A shooting at Brighton University, Colorado, results in two victims, both professors. The alleged killer, another BU professor, is caught onsite and taken to jail. The case appears to be straightforward, but Brighton Police Lieutenant Mark Sorensen senses that something is missing from the picture.

As Sorensen navigates through the university's political labyrinth to solve the multiple-murder case, Nick's name comes up as a possible suspect. Racing against time, Nick embarks on his own quest in Paris with the aid of a mysterious woman and an eager Parisian journalist. Print/Kindle Format(s)


  1. Thank you, Omnimystery News. I had fun answering to your questions.


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