Meet Heather Weidner, Mystery Author

If you love a good P.I. Mystery, you'll want to check out Heather Weidner's Secret Lives and Private Eyes. Delanie Fitzgerald is a tough and feisty P.I. hot on the trail of a rock star who is supposedly dead. Add to that, a strip club owner asking for help to open a new club in a family neighborhood, and she's got her work cut out for her.

Business has been slow for Private Investigator, Delanie Fitzgerald, but her luck seems to change when a tell-all author hires her to find rock star, Johnny Velvet. Could the singer whose career purportedly ended in a fiery crash almost thirty years ago, still be alive?

And as though sifting through dead ends in a cold case isn’t bad enough, Chaz Wellington Smith, III, a loud-mouthed, strip club owner, also hires Delanie to uncover information about the mayor’s secret life. When the mayor is murdered, Chaz, is the key suspect. Now Delanie must clear his name and figure out why landscaper Tripp Payne, keeps popping up in her other investigation. Can the private investigator find the connection between the two cases before another murder – possibly her own – takes place?

Secret Lives and Private Eyes 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.

Heather's story grabs you at the start and doesn't let go until the very last page! Today, I'm asking her to share a little about herself and give us a look behind the curtain of Delanie's creator.

When did you first discover your love of mystery?

I have been a fan of mysteries since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew (and the Hardy Boys). They were gateway mysteries for me. I moved on to Agatha Christie, Poe, Alfred Hitchcock, and any other mystery I could get my hands on. I proudly received my first library card at five, and I gave it a good workout through the years.

When did you decide to write your first book and what made you go for it?

I wrote my first novel at sixteen. It’s in a drawer next to my second attempt. I have known since the 80’s that I wanted to be a writer. My third attempt was published in 2016. It’s Secret Lives and Private Eyes. And I’m working on the second in the series, The Tulip Shirt Murders.

Are there any special rituals you have or places you go that inspire your writing?

I’m a binge writer. I know the good advice is to write every day, but sometimes, life gets in the way. Some weeks, a blog post and performance evaluations (at work) are all I’ve written that week. I write better alone. I tend to write fast, but I spend months (years) editing and revising. I tend to write in the morning, at lunch, and in the evenings/weekends.

Where do your plot ideas come from?

Everywhere. I keep a small notebook with me. I’m always jotting down cool names and interesting things. I’m very fortunate that I’m part of two very active writers’ groups (Sisters in Crime and James River Writers). Both have great programs for their members, and I’ve picked up some good ideas there. I am also fortunate to have a retired police captain for a father. He’s my best law enforcement resource, and he answers all my weird questions, like, “Hey, Dad. What does a meth lab smell like?”

Sometimes, I’ll see something on TV or in the news, and it sparks an idea. One time at work, we moved offices, and when the rolling bins arrived for packing, I realized that it was big enough to hold a body. That became the idea for my short story, “Spring Cleaning” in Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II.

Who is your favorite detective character (book, tv, or movie) and why?

That’s tough. There are so many. I think Nancy Drew will always be my favorite. As a young girl, I wanted to be either her or Batgirl. I loved that she could solve crimes that baffled the adults. And she had great friends, a cool car (the roadster became a Mustang in the newer books), and the freedom to solve mysteries. (Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Stephanie Plum, Spenser, and Jack Reacher are also favorites.)

Who is your favorite mystery author and why?

I like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum because she is funny, and she always gets in and out of sticky situations. I love light mysteries with humor. I also like Sherry Harris’ Sarah Winston Garage Sale series.

My favorite thriller writers are John Grisham, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, and Steve Berry.

Any advice for aspiring writers?

Don’t give up. Writing (and getting published) is hard work. Writing is also a business, and you’ll quickly find yourself involved with taxes, sales tax, contracts, social media, websites, and the list goes on and on.

My second piece of advice is to find your tribe or group. Find a supportive group of writers who will celebrate your successes, offer advice, share information, and provide support when there are bumps in the road.

What would we find in your mug first thing in the morning? Tea? Coffee? Something else?

Dr. Pepper or iced tea…I don’t really like hot drinks. I drink iced coffee or iced tea year-round.

Where do you like to spend time with a good book?

My favorite reading time is on a snow day or a stormy day. I have a comfy chair, fireplace, and two crazy Jack Russell terriers who like to nap while I’m reading. But I’m a book dragon. (Author Tina Glasneck let me know about book dragons. They sound so much cooler than bookworms.) I tend to read several books at one time, and there’s always a book on the nightstand and another in my purse in case I get stuck in line.

If you were given an entirely free day, no responsibility or tasks, what would you spend the day doing?

I would declare it my writing day, and I would hunker down and just write. I consider reading mysteries research, so I would make sure there was some time left for reading. It sounds like the perfect day. And if I were at the beach, it would be fabulous. My writing dream is to have a beach house and my desk would face the ocean.

Any guilty pleasures?

Dark chocolate. Binge reading. I don’t get to do it very often, but it’s fun to spend the whole weekend reading.

Tell us about an item on your bucket list.

I have had a penpal in New Zealand since 1975. We’ve talked on the phone, recorded cassette tapes in the 80s, and Skyped, but we have never met in person. I would love to go to New Zealand and Australia and have the opportunity to meet her and her family.

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. Secret Lives and Private Eyes is her debut novel.

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.

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