A Conversation with Author Marc Jedel

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IR- What does it mean to you to be called an author? 

MJ- Long ago I saw someone answer this question by saying everyone writes, but an author is published. Becoming an author takes perseverance to actually finish an entire novel, edit it a bunch of times, work with others to make it even better, and finally get it published. While I still think the original quote is a good summary, I would now add, “and someone is reading their book.” Authors without readers are like trees falling in a forest—no one knows if they made any sound.

IR- Which book are we talking about today? 

MJ- Huh? Why? and Punch is the fifth book in the Silicon Valley Mystery series. It can be read standalone but is more enjoyable to read the series in order so you don’t spoil the progress in the relationships and characters. I never used to expect to have any character development in these stories—in fact, that’s part of why I made all of them take place within less than a week of story time. But, I surprised myself by actually having the main character grow and mature (if only slightly and reluctantly) over the course of this series.

IR- What inspired the idea for your book?

MJ- When I started researching a story based on a vacation to Hawaii, the first thing that made me laugh was a sign, “Beware of Falling Coconuts,” showing a family fleeing from a tree with the coconuts jetting out almost horizontally after them. That sign + Magnum P.I. + the game of Clue + Kool-Aid + Hawaii Five-0 were my basic inspiration for this book. I follow the main character gradually over time and book 4 took place during Thanksgiving with him mentioning a holiday trip in December to Hawaii. So the stars aligned—even the title idea had been sitting in my list of possible titles for years.

IR- Tell us about a favorite character from the book.

MJ- It’s hard for me not to like the protagonist the most since I spend so much time inside his head, writing in first person. Silicon Valley is not your typical cozy mystery locale and Marty Golden doesn’t fit the normal profile of a cozy mystery protagonist. He’s not a woman and doesn’t run a bakery, bookshop, or bed & breakfast. While I like those cozies set in places that begin with the letter B as much as the next reader, I find myself getting bored by reading similar settings and characters over and over. 

Despite finding himself thrust into challenging situations, Marty isn’t exactly hero material. He has a wonderful combination of wit, irreverent humor, and sarcasm mixed in with nerdy insecurities, absent-mindedness, and fumbling but effective amateur sleuthing skills. I like to say that he’s armed only with the powers of self-delusion, attention to detail, and the complete inability to leave a coherent voicemail message. I hope readers enjoy Marty and his nieces, sister, and other wacky side characters. Some of these help and some hinder Marty’s progress. With an active inner voice and not a lot of advanced planning, Marty throws himself into solving problems. Sometimes, he even succeeds.

IR – Do you have any “side stories” about any the characters? 

MJ- Friends and readers share fun little anecdotes about themselves and I often try to find ways to incorporate the best of these into the stories. For example, Buddy, the nutty Labrador puppy is based on a friend’s actual dog. All the crazy things that Buddy has done in the earlier novels were actually done by the real Bailey. Bailey has even done some crazy things that seem too unbelievable to put into my fictional stories, but there’s still time. Also, in a previous novel, Marty and some co-workers go on a “midnight requisition” where they sneak around his office after hours and move an expensive stand-sit desk from an executive’s office into his cubicle. This was based on a real experience I’ve been part of and it was too ridiculous not to include in a humorous murder mystery. 

IR- Where did you come up with the names in the story? 

MJ- I have a friend I’ve dubbed my “name whisperer.” I can text him in the middle of the day, after not speaking to him for weeks, and ask him for a name for a character. I’ll describe the character in a few, brief phrases and he’ll almost instantly come back with three or four unique options that seem to fit perfectly. During an earlier novel, I decided it was best not to ask him why he so quickly could generate the names of half a dozen names for women with loose, indecent morals.

IR- What are you working on in the near future?

MJ- I’ve started work on book 3 in my Ozarks Lake Mystery, featuring a newlywed couple with two first-person points-of-view. Beyond that, I’ve got a concept for the 6th book in the Silicon Valley Mystery series which would have Marty working closely with the school secretary, Mrs. Quarles, who despises him. But I’ve also got an idea for a new series, featuring a recently widowed, retiree who goes forward with his move to a small mountain, river town in northern California where he and his deceased wife bought a large house, intending to run a bed & breakfast. The only problem is that he doesn’t like people, he’s no good at fixing things, and murders keep happening around him. And I’d still like to write a sci-fi/thriller where I’ve got an awesome opening scene but still need to work on the actual plot—something that’s apparently important to readers.

IR- What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

MJ- Write and then write some more. Find time to write—in the mornings, during a commute, during breaks, lunch, after work, in the evenings. Write a diary or use one of the thousands of writing prompts online. You need to practice before you can publish anything. And read, read, read. Reading helps you write better.

IR- What was the defining moment that made you say to yourself, “Today, I am going to write a book that I will publish.”?

MJ- Like most authors, I’ve always loved to read and make up stories. As a child, I had a special notebook to write down my stories. For a not-so-surprising reason, these always seemed to focus on a boy becoming the hero of his Little League baseball team. I became disheartened when I realized that I didn’t have the power to turn my fictional stories into reality. And even more recently, I believe my entire professional life in marketing has been about writing fiction. We just called it emails, websites, and marketing collateral. After wanting to write a book for many years, I finally buckled down to actually trying it. Lots of work, walks with my wife and dog, and drafts led to my first novel getting published. The next ones have come easier, but still involved a lot of dog walking. But, because my dog doesn’t laugh at my jokes, he’s not getting co-author credit.

IR- As an author what do you think makes a good story?

MJ- With many people feeling extra-stressed and all the scary, bad things happening around the world, I think a good story helps people escape from their daily lives for a while and dive into somewhere different and enjoyable. Certainly, the story has to make sense, make you care about the characters, hopefully, make you smile or laugh, and, if at all possible, to surprise you.

IR- What has been your favorite reader feedback?

MJ- I love all reader feedback and answer them all myself. My favorite ones have been those where people tell me that my books have made them forget some difficult situations that they’re facing and allowed them to escape and enjoy themselves for a while. I find writing offers me much the same enjoyment and can often be found cackling to myself when I’ve come up with a particularly entertaining line of dialogue or situation to get the characters into. Fortunately, my editor is wonderful and excellent so she tells me that my writing is funny but also lets me know when I need to edit something out to make it a better story for readers.

IR- If your book were made into a movie, which actors would play your characters?

MJ- A friend of mine was a partial inspiration for an evil chief technology officer in my first book. I used his name because he is the nicest, kindest person you could meet and I thought it was funny to have this slimy, obnoxious character named after him. Every time I wrote a scene with that character, it made me laugh. After I finished, he was fine with me using his name as long as Matt Damon played him in the movie. I agreed so, if Matt’s reading this, he should definitely consider playing the main character, based in part on me, or the minor evil character who gets only a little screen time, based on my friend.

About The Book

Huh? Why? and Punch: A Silicon Valley Mystery

When murder crashes his vacation, can a techie in paradise still catch some waves while snaring a killer?

Marty Golden is ready to kick back at the beach. When his neighbor offers free rooms in Hawaii, the software engineer is quick to round up his girlfriend, sister, and nieces for the luau of a lifetime. But his arrival at the resort turns his sun-filled hopes into hunches about homicide after he encounters a very deceased and inconvenient body.

Pressured into helping, a grudging Marty uses his sharp attention to detail to hone in on a crucial clue missed by the police. But his half-hearted investigation spirals out of control with wild chases, burglaries, and secret passageways before the reluctant sleuth gets serious when he’s suddenly added to the target list.

Can Marty hula his way to the real culprit before he’s lei’d to rest?

Huh? Why? and Punch can be read standalone and is the humorous fifth book in the Silicon Valley cozy mystery series. If you like brilliant but bumbling heroes, crazy fun supporting casts, and daring escapades, then you’ll love this laugh-out-loud whodunit.

Buy Huh? Why? and Punch today to dive into a unique taste of paradise!

Purchase Link– Amazon

About the Author

Marc Jedel writes humorous murder mysteries. He credits his years of marketing leadership positions in Silicon Valley for honing his writing skills and sense of humor. While his high-tech marketing roles involved crafting plenty of fiction, these were just called emails, ads, and marketing collateral.

For most of Marc’s life, he’s been inventing stories. As he’s gotten older, he’s encountered more funny and odd people and situations. This has made it even easier for him to write what he knows and make up the rest. It’s a skill that’s served him well, both as an author and marketer.

The publication of Marc’s first novel, UNCLE AND ANTS, gave him permission to claim “author” as his job. This leads to much more interesting conversations than answering, “marketing.”

Like his character, Marty from the Silicon Valley Mystery series, Marc now lives in Silicon Valley, works in high-tech, and enjoys bad puns. Like his characters Jonas and Elizabeth from the Ozarks Lake Mystery series, Marc grew up in the South and spent plenty of time in and around Arkansas.

Along with all his protagonists, Marc too has a dog, although his is neurotic, sweet, and small, with little appreciation for Marc’s humor.

Visit his website, marcjedel.com, for free chapters of novels, special offers, and more.

Author Links

Read More from Marc Jedel

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3 Comments

  1. Thanks for spotlighting Huh? Why? and Punch today. Your questions were really fun! I hope your readers will like my book as much as I enjoyed writing it. The whole Silicon Valley series can be found at: http://getbook.at/SiliconValley. You can read this novel as a standalone or start with book 1 for just $0.99—or free for Kindle Unlimited members.

    Liked by 1 person

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