THRILLER THURSDAY is a new occasional feature of Bling, Bitches & Blood. As a member of International Thriller Writers and alumni of the ITW Debut Author Program, it is my honor to showcase select ITW authors and books participating in the ITW Bloggers Program. If you love reading great books as much as I do, check out my Spotlight Guest Elena Hartwell!
Now here’s something you don’t see every day–a playwright deciding to write thrillers. (I’ve found my identical twin separated at birth! Ha!) When I learned that Elena shared my love of theatric-icity, I had to ask for more information. Take it away, Elena!
Question: What do theater, horses, and murder have in common? Answer: Author, Elena Hartwell.
My writing career started in the theater, as a director, producer, and educator. As a playwright, I’ve had several productions around the US and abroad. Sometimes it was satisfying and wonderful. Sometimes it was painful and always required I “sell” my script over and over and over to the next theater down the road. For twenty years, I worked teaching theater, directing, and producing.
But my heart always returned to the writing.
Plays are satisfying, but require a village to “complete.” So I started my first novel. It was a 120,000-word mystery. I was worried it was too short. I’ve since learned most first time mysteries are 65-70,000 words. I learned a lot with that first book. Plays are in permanent present tense and each character has their own POV, because they are inhabited by individual actors. Novels, on the other hand, are usually in past tense and with a specific POV. I learned the difference between writing atmosphere and writing specific descriptions.
I wrote another book. It was better. But didn’t sell. So I wrote a third book and landed an agent. I thought I’d “made it.” But that book didn’t sell either. So I wrote a fourth book and pitched it to an Independent press. One Dead, Two to Go hit the shelves on April 15th.
So how do you stay grounded in a world where you have little control over your own destiny? My method is my horses. Two years ago, I met an Arabian gelding named Second Chance. He was given that name because he survived a kill pen, where he was to be sold for dog food. He arrived at the equine rescue where I volunteered and I fell in love. Unwilling to let anyone touch him, he walked over and put his head on my shoulder the first time we met. We’ve been together almost every day since. In December, my husband and I bought Jasper, a dynamic, confident ranch horse we found at the end of a dirt road on the Nevada/Utah border. Now I share my love for these magnificent animals with him. No matter what happens in the publishing world, I stay grounded. For that I am eternally grateful.
MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elena Hartwell was born in Bogota, Colombia, while her parents were in the Peace Corps. Her first word was “cuidado.” At the age of nine months, she told two men carrying a heavy table to be careful in their native tongue. She’s been telling people what to do ever since. After almost twenty years in the theater, Elena turned her playwriting skills to novels and the result is her first book “One Dead, Two to Go.” The Eddie Shoes Mystery Series launches April 15, 2016, to be followed by “Two Dead Are Better Than One” and “Three Dead, You’re Out.” For more information on Elena, please visit elenahartwell.com or like her Facebook Page ElenaHartwellAuthor and follow her on Twitter and at Pinterest. You may get to see cute pictures of her dog and her horse.
HERE’S WHAT READERS SAY…
“One Dead, Two To Go is smart, page-turning fun, with the most feisty and likable P.I. since Kinsey Millhone. Looking for your next favorite detective series? Look no further.” —Deb Caletti, National Book Award finalist and author of He’s Gone
“Elena Hartwell doesn’t just burst onto the scene with this clever mystery novel—she kicks the door in and holds the reader at gunpoint.” —Peter Clines, Award-winning author
“The writing is cinematic and vivid, the characters well-drawn, but the dynamic between Eddie and Chava, which reminded me fondly of Cagney and Lacey, is what makes the story. Fans of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich should de nitely check out One Dead, Two to Go. Recommended.”—Max Everhart, author of the Eli Sharpe Mystery series
“Unlike the standard-issue PI, Eddie seems allergic to guns and violence and worries about a bad haircut as much as stalking danger. Funny, clever, and full of grabbing plot twists, Elena Hartwell’s One Dead, Two To Go, the debut novel in her Eddie Shoes series, takes the mystery lover into unexpected territory, including the introduction of Chava, the intrepid mother who is kicked out of Vegas by the Mob and shows up uninvited on Eddie’s doorstep. is is a fast, memorable and entertaining read. Warning: you’ll want more.” —Scott Driscoll, author of Better You Go Home
Eddie usually balks at matters requiring a gun, but before she knows it, she is knee-deep in dangerous company, spurred on by her card-counting adrenaline-junkie mother who has shown up on her doorstep fresh from the shenanigans that got her kicked out of Vegas. Chava is only sixteen years older than Eddie and sadly lacking in parenting skills. Her unique areas of expertise, however, prove to be helpful in ways Eddie can’t deny, making it hard to stop Chava from tagging along.
Also investigating the homicide is Detective Chance Parker, new to Bellingham’s Major Crimes unit but no stranger to Eddie. Their history as a couple back in Seattle is one more kink in a chain of complications, making Eddie’s case more frustrating and perilous with each tick of the clock.
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