A Conversation with Author Leslie Wheeler

giveaway ends 7/31

IR– What inspired the idea for the book

LAW–I was inspired to write Wolf Bog on a hike organized by my Berkshire town of New Marlborough’s land trust association. The hike took us through part of a vast area of wetlands and forest called Thousand Acre Swamp. As we stood looking across a beautiful lake called East India Pond to the far side, a male voice behind me said, “People have gone in there and never been seen again.” By “there” he meant Wolf Swamp, which has dangerous quicksand. I decided then that I would write a mystery about teenager who disappears, and whose body is found more than forty years later by a group on a hike. His body is perfectly preserved because I changed the swamp into a bog, where the acidic soil has the effect of embalming bodies that fall into it.

IR– Tell us about a favorite character in the book.

LAW–A favorite character in Wolf Bog is Wally, aka Rufus Wallingford, an estate attorney for Charlotte Hinckley, an important character in the book. Wally first appeared in Shuntoll Road, the second book in my series, though he played only a minor role. It wasn’t until Wolf Bog that I really got to know him. He invited me to his home, a rambling farmhouse on the edge of Many Acres Swamp, where he grew up. In his state-of-the-art kitchen he prepared us both delicious chai lattes, which we took to his porch with a view of a nearby lake. There we spoke of the past and the fabulous parties that he and Charlotte had attended when they were much younger—Wally’s in his seventies, Charlotte in her sixties—and his concerns for Charlotte in the present. Perhaps because I grew up in a family of lawyers, I felt comfortable talking with him. I appreciated his careful choice of words and his overall reserve. Reading between the lines, it became clear to me that he had deep feelings for Charlotte. Although he did some things he probably shouldn’t have in the course of the story, I forgave him, because he acted out of concern for her welfare.

IR– What comes first to you—the plot or the characters?

LAW–Neither the plot nor the characters—it’s the setting that comes first to me. Landscapes inspire me, and once I’ve settled on where a book will take place, the plot and characters grow from it.  I ask myself what kind of story could happen here, and what kind of characters could populate this spot. For the first book in my Berkshire Hilltown Mysteries, Rattlesnake Hill, a story I heard about an ill-fated romantic triangle in my real-life town is central to the plot, and some of the characters in that book and my two other series books are based on locals I’ve known.

IR– What is your favorite all time book?

LAW–My favorite all time book is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, and yes, the novel with its strong sense of place has definitely influenced my work. While the house my main character, Kathryn Stinson, rents in my fictional Berkshire town of New Nottingham, is nowhere near as grand as Manderley, I have tried to bring it to life as a place of beauty and peace, but also a place where danger lurks both indoors in the attic and outside in the woods. Rattlesnake Hill, the first book in the series, contains plot elements that are similar to the story in Rebecca, though I have put my own spin on what actually happens.

IR– How do you avoid or defeat writer’s block?

LAW–When I’m stuck, I do one of the following: leave my computer and go to another part of my study or of the house with a pen and legal pad, where I make notes of what needs to happen for the story to continue; take a shower; prepare and eat a meal; go for a walk outdoors—anything to get me away from that blank screen. If all else fails, I abandon the project for a day or two and focus on other things, confident in the knowledge that my unconscious will come up with a way to move forward.

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

LAW–Don’t give up! There will be times when you feel like you’ll never finish the book, and even if you do manage to finish it, you’ll never find an agent or a publisher, and if published, you’ll get horrible reviews, and no one will want to read your book. But you mustn’t let yourself be consumed by such negativity. “Accentuate the positive” as the old song goes, plant your butt firmly in the chair, and trust in yourself. How do I know this? Because I’m a poster girl for perseverance. 

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

LAW–I’m working on the fourth book in my Berkshire Hilltown Mystery series, tentatively titled, Wildcat Academy. In the novel, Kathryn Stinson is reunited with her mother, from whom she’s been estranged for many years, and meets her mother’s new husband and her stepsister when they come for a visit, first to Boston and then to the Berkshires. But the reunion is marred when her stepsister’s teenage son goes missing from his private school in the Berkshires and is found dead in a remote part of the campus.

IR– Name three fun facts about you or your work.

LAW– Here are three fun facts about me:

1.Every Sunday night before I go to bed, I read “Dinner with Cupid,” a feature published in the Sunday Boston Globe, in which the newspaper pairs and pays for dinner for couples whom they think might be compatible. I’m always happy when the couples click and indicate they’d like to meet again. However, I’m sad when it doesn’t work out and the couples give their date a low grade—a “C” instead of an “A”. Does that make me an incurable romantic or what?

2. The initials of my full name—Leslie Ann Wheeler—spell LAW, an appropriate moniker, because while not a lawyer myself, I come from a family of lawyers.

3. Over the years, I’ve had my share of nicknames. The one that’s appealed to me the most is “Lewis,” which was given to me by a college boyfriend. I like the nickname so much that I made it the last name of the main character of my Miranda Lewis living history mysteries.


Wolf Bog by Leslie Wheeler Banner

Wolf Bog
by Leslie Wheeler
July 1-31, 2022
Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Wolf Bog by Leslie Wheeler

It’s August in the Berkshires, and the area is suffering from a terrible drought. As wetlands dry up, the perfectly preserved body of a local man, missing for forty years, is discovered in Wolf Bog by a group of hikers that includes Kathryn Stinson. Who was he and what was his relationship with close friend Charlotte Hinckley, also on the hike, that would make Charlotte become distraught and blame herself for his death? Kathryn’s search for answers leads her to the discovery of fabulous parties held at the mansion up the hill from her rental house, where local teenagers like the deceased mingled with the offspring of the wealthy. Other questions dog the arrival of a woman claiming to be the daughter Charlotte gave up for adoption long ago. But is she really Charlotte’s daughter, and if not, what’s her game? Once again, Kathryn’s quest for the truth puts her in grave danger.

Praise for Wolf Bog:

“Wheeler’s deep sense of place—the Berkshires—illuminates a deftly woven plot and a quirky cast of characters that will keep you glued to the pages until the last stunning revelation. It’s always a pleasure to be in the hands of a pro.”

Kate Flora, Edgar and Anthony nominated author

“When a long-lost teenager turns up dead, a cold case turns into hot murder. A deliciously intriguing Berkshire mystery.”

Sarah Smith, Agatha Award-winning author
of The Vanished Child and Crimes and Survivors

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Amateur Sleuth/Suspense
Published by: Encircle Publishing
Publication Date: July 6, 2022
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 164599385X (ISBN-13: 978-1645993858)
Series: A Berkshire Hilltown Mystery, #3
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Read an excerpt:

Charlotte’s brow furrowed as she stared at the bog. “There’s something down there. A dead animal or…?” She raised her binoculars to get a better look.

“Where?” Wally asked. She pointed to a spot on the peat at the edge of the water. Wally had barely lifted his binoculars when Charlotte cried, “Oh, my God, it’s a body!” And took off toward it.

“No, don’t go there!” Wally grabbed at her, but she eluded him. When Charlotte was almost to the body−−if that’s what it was−−she began to sink into the bog. She waved her arms and twisted her legs, trying desperately to get out, but her struggles only made her sink deeper.

Kathryn’s heart seized. They had to rescue Charlotte, but how without getting stuck themselves? Brushing past Wally, Steve started down the slope. Wally caught him, pulled him back, and handed him over to Hal Phelps. “You stay put. Everyone else, too. I’ve had experience hiking around this bog, and I think I can get her out. Stop struggling and try to keep calm,” he called down to Charlotte. “Help is on the way.”

Wally made his way carefully to where Charlotte stood, caught in the mire. He tested each step before putting his full weight on it, backtracking when he deemed the ground too soft. When he was a few yards away, he stopped.

“This is as far as I can safely come,” he told Charlotte. He extended his hiking pole and she grabbed it. Then, on his instructions, she slowly and with great effort lifted first one leg, then the other out of the muck and onto the ground behind her. Wally guided her back to the others, following the same zigzag pattern he’d made when descending. Charlotte went with him reluctantly. She kept glancing back over her shoulder at what she’d seen at the water’s edge.

Kathryn trained her binoculars on that spot. Gradually an image came into focus. A body was embedded in the peat. The skin was a dark, reddish brown, but otherwise, it was perfectly preserved. Bile rose in her throat.

Charlotte moved close to Kathryn. “You see him, don’t you?” Her face was white, her eyes wide and staring.

“See who?” Wally demanded.

“Denny,” Charlotte said. “You must’ve seen him, too.”

“I saw something that appears to be a body, but–” Wally said.

“So there really is a dead person down there?” Betty asked.

“It looks that way,” Wally said grimly. “But let’s not panic. I’m going to try to reach Chief Lapsley, though I doubt I’ll get reception here. We’ll probably have to leave the area before I can.”

“We can’t just leave Denny here to die,” Charlotte wailed.

“Charlotte,” Wally said with a pained expression, “whoever is down there is already dead.”

She flinched, as if he’d slapped her across the face. “No! I’m telling you Denny’s alive.” She glared at him, then her defiant expression changed to one of uncertainty. “Dead or alive, I’m to blame. I’m staying here with him.”

***

Excerpt from Wolf Bog by Leslie Wheeler. Copyright 2022 by Leslie Wheeler. Reproduced with permission from Leslie Wheeler. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Leslie Wheeler

An award-winning author of books about American history and biographies, Leslie Wheeler has written two mystery series. Her Berkshire Hilltown Mysteries launched with Rattlesnake Hill and continue with Shuntoll Road and Wolf Bog. Her Miranda Lewis Living History Mysteries debuted with Murder at Plimoth Plantation and continue with Murder at Gettysburg and Murder at Spouters Point. Her mystery short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. Leslie is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, and a founding member of the New England Crime Bake Committee. She divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Berkshires, where she writes in a house overlooking a pond.

Catch Up With Leslie:
www.LeslieWheeler.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @lesliewheeler1
Twitter – @Leslie_Wheeler
Facebook – @LeslieWheelerAuthor

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

07/05 Showcase @ The Reading Frenzy
07/06 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
07/07 Showcase @ BOOK REVIEWS by LINDA MOORE
07/08 Showcase @ Books to the Ceiling
07/09 Guest post @ The Mystery of Writing
07/13 Review @ Novels Alive
07/14 Interview @ I Read What You Write
07/14 Showcase @ Ilovebooksandstuffblog
07/15 Review @ nanasbookreviews
07/16 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
07/17 Review @ Review Thick and Thin
07/18 Review @ FUONLYKNEW
07/18 Showcase @ Nesies Place
07/19 Guest post @ Novels Alive
07/19 Review @ sunny island breezes
07/20 Review @ The Page Ladies
07/21 Review @ Reading Is My SuperpPower
07/22 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads
07/23 Interview @ The Scribblings of Sarah E. Glenn
07/27 Showcase @ 411 ON BOOKS, AUTHORS, AND PUBLISHING NEWS
07/29 Review @ tea. and. titles bookstagram
07/31 Review @ Pat Fayo Reviews
 

ENTER TO WIN:

THIS IS A GIVEAWAY HOSTED BY PARTNERS IN CRIME TOURS FOR LESLIE WHEELER. SEE THE WIDGET FOR ENTRY TERMS AND CONDITIONS. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

1 Comment

  1. Great interview!
    “Neither the plot nor the characters—it’s the setting that comes first to me.” – Ooooo I like that answer! I always love the setting in a book and try to picture myself there.
    “Leslie Ann Wheeler—spell LAW, an appropriate moniker, because while not a lawyer myself, I come from a family of lawyers.” – Ha! That’s cool!

    Sounds like a fun book!

    Like

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