About the Book
Book: A Shadow on the Snow
Author: JPC Allen
Genre: YA Mystery
Release date: December 1, 2021
Nineteen-year-old Rae Riley can barely believe her gamble paid off. After spending seven months investigating the identity of her father and whether he tried to murder her mother, Rae has been accepted by her dad, Sheriff Walter “Mal” Malinowski IV, and his immediate family with open hearts. And for the first time in her life, Rae is making friends, jamming with three cute cops who play outlaw country music.
But someone is leaving Rae threatening notes, reminding her of her late mother’s notorious past when Bella Rydell wrecked homes and lives during the few years she lived in rural Marlin County, Ohio. Fearing the threats will make Mal and his family reject her, Rae investigates the mystery on her own. But her amateur sleuthing may cost her the father she’s always wanted when the stalker changes targets and takes dead aim at Mal.
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About the Author
JPC Allen started her writing career in second grade with an homage to Scooby Doo. She’s been tracking down mysteries ever since and has written mystery short stories for Mt. Zion Ridge Press. Her Christmas mystery short story, “A Rose from the Ashes”, was a Selah-finalist at the Blue Ridge Mountains Writers Conference in 2020. Online, she offers tips and prompts to ignite the creative spark in every kind of writer. She also leads workshops for tweens, teens, and adults, encouraging them to discover the adventure of writing. A lifelong Buckeye, she has deep roots in the Mountain State. A Shadow on the Snow is her first novel.
More from JPC Allen
“Write what you know.”
This piece of advice is given to a lot of beginning writers. But many writers are successful concocting stories in fantasy worlds or researching 18th century Russia and writing brilliant historical fiction. I’ve never been comfortable in any genre but mystery, and the more I’ve written, the more I’ve come to write what I know. There’s only one me, and if I pull from my experiences, I hope to give my mysteries a unique touch.
A Shadow on the Snow is set in southeast, or Appalachian, Ohio, because that’s where I grew up. I based Wellesville on St. Clairsville, the town I lived in as a kid. The library my main character Rae Riley works in looks like the library there, and the courthouse is right across Main Street, just like in my novel.
Until I was thirty, my mom’s parents lived out in the country on a ridge between St. Clairsville and the Ohio River. Their home was my favorite place on the planet, so when I needed a farmhouse for Rae’s family, I modeled it on Grandpa and Grandma’s house. I’m sure when my sisters and cousins read about the breezeway that runs between the house and the garage and the steps that lead from it to the outside door to the walkout basement, they’ll instantly know where I got my inspiration.
None of the characters are exact copies of real people I know, but I do use traits of real people to bring my characters to life. Aaron has my oldest child’s enthusiasm for science. Jeanine shares qualities with my youngest sister. Jason Carlisle is based on a man I saw once at my youngest child’s soccer game. All the other dads who coached wore baggy t-shirts and shorts. This man looked like he’d stepped off a yacht with perfectly styled hair, a navy blue windbreaker, and tailored white shorts. In my fictional Marlin County, where most men consider a plaid shirt without a tear to be formal attire, I thought a man who is fashionable would be an interesting contrast to the other characters.
Rae has a lot of me in her. She works at a library, which I did for ten years, but I was a children’s librarian, instead of a check-out clerk. She’s interested in photography and horses like I am. Both of us are shy, don’t like to inconvenience people, and worry what others think of us. However, I have never had the courage or the nerve to set a trap for a stalker, and that experience, as well as the most heart-pounding scenes in my book, are pure inventions. There’s a limit to writing what you know, and as a mystery writer, I’m very glad I can write about crimes without having to experience them!
Interview with JPC
- What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
The first draft of any writing that’s long—over 500 words—I have to handwrite in cursive. I can’t type from my imagination. The computer seems like a barrier between me and the words. With college-rule sheets of paper and pen in hand, I feel like a wordsmith, sculpting a piece of writing. I also find handwriting helpful because I can go back and review what parts I’ve crossed out and changed. An hour of handwriting might produce only one good paragraph but I can have several sheets of ideas that I’ve tried. Online, I’d have only one good paragraph.
- Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
My characters have to come first. I have to develop interesting characters, know them like I do my relatives, and then I search for plots to drop them into. Where do I find my characters? Usually, it starts with a face. Something about a face suggests a character to me, and I want to explore the possibilities that face inspires. I’ve found characters in old movie stars, drawings online, and people I’ve passed in crowds. I never know when inspiration will ignite.
- What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?
I discovered I could concoct a complex plot that makes sense. As a character writer, I was afraid when I attempted a novel that I wouldn’t have enough plot to keep it going. I was pleasantly surprised to find I was putting in too much plot and had to prune it until it took on the perfect shape.
- What’s your favorite part about being a writer? Research? First Draft? Editing?
My favorite part of writing is editing. It’s in the second, third, or tenth draft that the characters, plot, and settings merge, and I can see if the story is working. I love putting the polish on my prose, especially when it comes to descriptions. I work hard to describe people, places, and feelings in a concise, vivid way that will connect with readers.
- What project are you working on now and how do we find your books?
I’m working on the next Rae Riley mystery. I’ve developed the basic mystery and an ending but often once I start writing, I’ll get new ideas and themes, so this book may change a lot before it’s reaches the public. Feedback from readers of Shadow is also helpful in shaping the next book. I want to know which characters and situations readers enjoyed and work those into my new story. For example, I had two beta readers tell me they really liked Rae’s great-grandfather Walter. He was also a ton of fun to write, so I’ll try to give him a choice role in the next mystery. If anyone reading this interview would like to give me feedback for Rae’s next mystery, contact me through my website, Facebook, or Instagram.
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To celebrate her tour, JPC is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card, a signed copy of Christmas Fiction Off the Beaten Path, a signed copy of A Shadow on the Snow, and a bookmark based on the artwork of an Ohio artist!! Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.