Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Conversation with Mystery Author Julie Seedorf

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Julie Seedorf

We are delighted to welcome back author Julie Seedorf to Omnimystery News today.

It's been a year since we last spoke with Julie, and we thought we'd take advantage of an opportunity to catch up with her especially since she has a new Fuchsia Minnesota mystery out, Granny Forks a Fugitive (Cozy Cat Press; July 2015 trade paperback and ebook formats).

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Omnimystery News: Tell us a little more about your series lead, Granny.

Julie Seedorf
Photo provided courtesy of
Julie Seedorf

Julie Seedorf: Hermiony Vidalia Criony Fiddlestadt, better known as Granny, is my lead protagonist in the Fuchsia Minnesota Series. In my first book, Granny Hooks A Crook, it may seem that this old woman is forgetful, a little off her rocker, and an amazing superwoman that no one in real life could possibly copy. I never mention her age. I like to leave that to the reader. I wrote Granny with the idea of breaking the concept we have of old age in our society. Watching the commercials and listening to the media has us believing that once we get to a certain age it is all over for us. I wanted my character to be the exact opposite of that. I wanted a strong old woman who still has dreams, believes she can do anything, and is a little pig headed. Those are the traits which have kept Granny going through all the hills and valleys of her life. You won't see many of the valleys until the third or fourth book. In a small way, Granny was fashioned after my mother who was on the roof of her house fixing it when she was 90 years old. There wasn't anything she couldn't do if she set her mind to it and she drove me, her only daughter, crazy worrying about her. As I get older, I want that strength and can-do attitude. I add quirky supporting characters, young and old, to Granny's life to enrich the story.

OMN: How has Granny changed over the course of these four books?

JS: There are some things about my main characters that I keep the same in their personality but as the books progress you will see the depth of their lives that contribute to their quirks. My characters, especially Granny, grow and develop as the series continues. What is under that crusty exterior? Who comes into her life and brings out the best and worst in her? Can characters be redeemed? Can communities such as Fuchsia accept everyone? Having said that, there are times when I am writing where my characters totally surprise even me.

OMN: Being published by Cozy Cat Press, does that mean these mysteries are, in fact, cozies?

JS: My books have been categorized as cozy mysteries but some reviewers have felt that they are broader than that. However, I am not sure what other category they would fit in except for fun and silly if there was such a category. I do think having it labeled as a cozy is sometimes a disadvantage because with that label some readers might not pick it up.

OMN: Tell us something about Granny Forks a Fugitive that isn't mentioned in the synopsis.

JS: I always leave a couple of clues that may seem like I forgot them in a book for the current story and didn't clear them up, but they are planted there for use in my next book. Always look for a clue to the next story hidden inside each book.

OMN: How much of your own personal or professional experience have you included in your books?

JS: When I write, I leave a piece of myself in each of my books. The only facts in the book that might be true to life are my over the top mom. She might be a little like Granny. The books Granny usually reads and the coffee she usually drinks are factual. Other than that, it's just the wish that I would love to be like Granny.

OMN: Where do you most often find yourself writing?

JS: I have a few places I write. I have a porch converted into an office. It has bright colors with red, blue and yellow walls. I have artwork on the walls from my children when they were small, and things that make me smile. My cats sit on the shelf at the window above my desk. I have a large sign that says smile next to me on a shelf, and clowns also decorate my walls. The other space I write in is a small bedroom. I am in the process of papering the wall with book pages and outlining them in gold paint. I like inspirational spaces and have inspirational sayings or fun gifts from friends on the wall too. I write best when I have nature to look at out the window.

OMN: How do you go about researching the plot points of your stories?

JS: Since Fuchsia and Granny are wild fiction, I don't do too much research for this series. However, when I need to know things about cemeteries and dead bodies, such as how long it takes them to stiffen up, I have a friend who is a funeral director. Otherwise, the Internet and an editor friend help me out.

OMN: Is your fictional town of Fuchsia based on any real place?

JS: I live in a small community in Minnesota so I love the state and its wildlife and lakes. Small communities are unique in that the rules in big cities don't always apply so that probably influences me too. I get very frustrated with all the rules we live by in communities these days, such as houses needing to be a certain color or only certain plants being allowed in your yard. I grew up in a time where houses were colorful, colorful gardens peppered the yards, and we didn't have to check if we wanted to build tree houses in our back yards. I think that is what influenced the community of Fuchsia in my books.

OMN: What are some of your outside interests?

JS: I like to try new things. I like to water color paint, dabble with stained glass, re-purpose furniture, and watch movies, and read. I am sure I will find many more things I want to try. I like to try artistic things although I am not always successful with the final product. When I visit an art fair, my hands itch and I want to dive right in.

OMN: What is the best advice — and harshest criticism — you've received as an author?

JS: Some of the best advice I have learned from my editors, especially Annie Sarac at EditingPen. I use many words that don't need to be there and I tend to want things to move along faster and that is when you cut corners. My friends and family keep it real. The harshest criticism was actually a bad review that I loved. The person said, "The author must have scrambled eggs for brains because she writes like Dr. Seuss." It wasn't meant as a compliment because they gave me one star but I loved it. I have learned to not take destructive criticism so seriously and to take constructive criticism and use it to my advantage and thank the person who gave it to me.

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

JS: "I am a mystery author and thus I am complicated, sometimes misunderstood, a misfit, laughing inside and giggling at a joke no one else gets, as I breathe and create, finally free to solve the mysteries of my own life story which ending is yet to be written."

OMN: How involved are you with the design of your covers?

JS: I feel my cover design was a gift. My publisher chose the cover designer who chose the Granny you see on the book covers. When I saw the cover and approved it, I was happy as Granny looked exactly as I pictured her. It was one day on my way to a book signing that I began thinking about my real Grandma who died when I was six years old. I hadn't thought about her in years. I realized the Granny on the cover of my book was the exact image of my real grandmother. When I got home and found a picture, everything was the same down to the nose, glasses, hair, eyes, and even the design on the dress she had on in the picture. Since then I have found the artist and he has designed the new standing Granny for Granny Forks a Fugitive.

OMN: What kind of feedback have you received from readers?

JS: I love my readers. They connect with me in various ways and their feedback has been so positive. One reader called my books the Lemony Snickett of the senior set. They also keep me honest when it comes to details. I also get many suggestions for new pets and names of pets for Granny and things they would like to see in Fuchsia. I also enjoy learning about their lives too. One reader recently adopted a cat that I was seeking a home for after a friend had to give her up. How awesome is that? And they named her "Fish" after Granny's cat in the books.

OMN: Suppose your series were to be adapted for television or film. Who do you see playing Granny?

JS: Polly Holliday. Many people have said Betty White would make a great Granny and she would but for some reason Polly Holliday who was Flo on Alice comes to mind.

OMN: What kinds of books did you read when you were young?

JS: I read Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Cherry Ames, Donna Parker. I loved mysteries. In fact, I still have my books.

OMN: And what do you read today for pleasure?

JS: I read cozies but I also read heavier mysteries and especially Catherine Coulter and her FBI Series. I also like Christian romance and humorous books. Right now I found a new author I love and that is Allen Eskens. His mystery, The Life We Bury, kept me reading into the night. I thought the insight into his character's past brought the reader right into the life of that character and that is what appeals to me in a book. I am not a historical read person.

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

JS: Top 5 favorite books:

Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish — I loved the idea;
Freedom Summer by Sally Belfridge — written in 1965 it changed the way I saw the world;
Before Amen by Max Lucado;
Living Somewhere Between Estrogen and Death by Barbara Johnson; and
• Succulent Wild Woman by Sark.

OMN: What's next for you?

JS: I am working on a new series possibly called the Brilliant Minnesota Series since Brilliant is near Fuchsia. Also pondering book number five in the Fuchsia Minnesota Series. I also write a column each week so I need to keep creating. One of my plans is to develop a line of cups and shirts around my real grandmother that will be funny and inspirational. I guess I want to keep creating and dreaming. I also want to lose forty pounds — so maybe exercise?

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Author Julie Seedorf is a columnist, author and dreamer. She lived her life as a wife and mom, experiencing various careers, including that of computer technician, retiring from her computer repair business in January of 2014 to follow her dream and transition to that of full-time writer.

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

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Granny Forks a Fugitive by Julie Seedorf

Granny Forks a Fugitive by Julie Seedorf

A Fuchsia Minnesota Mystery

Publisher: Cozy Cat Press

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)

Granny has a new weapon — a pink pitchfork! And just in time! A trip to her old farm ends in Granny forking a dead body in her silo. When the body turns out to be Granny's long lost love Robert Blackford, Granny is flabbergasted.

When her devious twin sister, Amelia, the very person who stole Robert from Granny many years ago, shows up searching for her long lost son, Granny reluctantly agrees to help her find him. Of course, Granny's fiancé, Franklin Gatsby, is concerned for Granny's welfare and doesn't like it when she goes out sleuthing — one of Granny's favorite activities. So, Franklin starts to follow Granny everywhere she goes to protect her.

But Granny is determined to find out who killed her former boyfriend, so along with her gal pals and her menagerie of pets, she sets a trap and soon — Granny forks a fugitive!

Granny Forks a Fugitive by Julie Seedorf

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