I write my novels with the help of Harry, a striped cat who sleeps by my computer and lashes the keyboard with his tail. He whips me into a writing frenzy.
Harry collaborates on two series, the Dead-end Job mysteries and the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series. He's doing a good job -- I just signed a contract with NAL/Signet for two more books in each series.
About the Author
It’s midnight on a moonless night in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From my office window I see boats with no running lights slipping down the Intracoastal Waterway. What illegal cargo are they carrying: drugs, guns, people? I’ve used them all in my Dead-End Job mysteries.
Across a canal, my window overlooks a million-dollar condo where mysterious neighbors hold parties in the dead of night. Everyone dresses in black evening clothes. They became the inspiration for my short story, “Vampire Hours.”
South Florida is the setting for my Dead-End Job mysteries and many short stories. It’s the inspiration that feeds my dark side.
One of my snowbird neighbors turned out to be a drug dealer. I should have known that a pilot didn’t make enough money to own a Porsche, a Harley, a state-of-the-art sound system, a house and a beachside condo unless he was flying in a very special cargo. I had no idea he was a drug dealer until he didn’t return to Florida one winter.
My roots are in the Midwest, where I set my other mystery series. St. Louis is different from Fort Lauderdale. Its people have pasts, families and neighborhoods. If someone new moves into a community, a St. Louisan can make a few calls and find out where the newcomer went to school, if he has a drinking problem, if she’s divorced, and where that person works. It’s a big small town. The city has its own dark secrets, hidden from outsiders.
Florida’s rootlessness and St. Louis’s structured life are important facets of my series.
These two locations drive my mysteries and fictional forays into other worlds. My vampire short stories take place in Fort Lauderdale. My paranormal story, “The Bedroom Door,” is set in St. Louis and features a woman based on my Grandmother Vierling, who swore she had second sight.
Mystery shopper Josie Marcus is a St. Louis woman. She’s connected to her community, the suburb of Maplewood. She has a mother, a daughter, and a job, where she fights for better treatment for the mythical Mrs. Minivan, the American shopper.
A Dog Gone Murder is my tenth Josie Marcus mystery. Checked Out is my fourteenth Dead-End Job mystery. In good series – and I hope mine fit that description – the characters grow and change.
Josie, a single mother with a twelve-year-old daughter, has a talent for friendship as well as solving mysteries. As a member of the sandwich generation, Josie has to care for both her mother and her daughter. She tries to help Amelia develop into an independent young woman. Josie never expected to marry, but after falling in love with the wrong men, she finally met Ted Scottsmeyer.
Helen Hawthorne is a St. Louis woman on the run in South Florida. After nine Dead-End Jobs, she changed the course of her life. Helen and I both worked the same awful jobs from salesclerk to telemarketer. In her tenth adventure, Helen and Phil, her new husband, open a private eye agency called Coronado Investigations and open new possibilities to keep the series fresh.
Don’t worry, Dead-End Job fans. Helen is still working those low-paying jobs, only now she goes undercover as part of her private eye investigation. For Checked Out, Helen and I volunteered at our local library.
Writers change and grow, too. I went home to St. Louis to return to my dark side. I’m writing a new hardboiled series. My first four mysteries, the Francesca Vierling newspaper series, are set at a mythical newspaper, the St. Louis City Gazette. These novels are darker than my other two series.
Now I’m writing another dark series featuring Death Investigator Angela Richman. If you like the forensics in Kathy Reichs’s series, you’ll love Angela Richman.
A DI investigates all unexpected and unexplained deaths that don’t happen under a doctor’s care: accidents, murders, suicides. She works for a medical examiner and is responsible for the dead person. The police handle the scene – everything but the body.
In January 2015 I took the MedicoLegal Death Investigators Training Course for forensic professionals at St. Louis University. My new series will be as accurate as possible.
Despite these changes, I promise that some things will stay the same. My series will still be as entertaining as I can make them.
— Elaine Viets
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