“That was then, and this is now.”
My first mystery novel
By Ron D. Voigts
A long, long time ago (circa 2000), I decided to write a mystery. I’d been a fan of the genre for most of my life. All I needed to do was create a detective, kill someone, and throw in a few clues. How hard could it be? Agatha Christie, move over.
My vision was a dreary old house in the country with a woman, home from college, finding a dead body. I wrote the early chapters and pitched them to my writer’s critique groups. One thing came to light quickly. The actions by the main character were a much younger person than the age I assigned. By the time I adjusted her age to her actions, she had become a thirteen-year-old tomboy who wore bib overalls and a stocking cap pulled tight around her ears. She had moxie, could be brash, and told it like it was. Penelope was born.
I tossed in a bunch of off-the-wall characters—a wild, crazy gypsy, a gangster uncle on the lam from the mob, a Broadway actress who’s her own biggest fan, a creepy cousin, a mystery woman named Teal, and some quirky parents. They get snowed in during a celebration of Penelope’s birthday. Someone is murdered, and it takes Penelope to figure it out.
I shopped the book around for an agent because that was the way it was done back then. I had a few nibbles but mostly rejections. Finally, I found Parkeast Literary who liked the story and had faith in my work. A few more major rewrites came, and the book was sent out to nearly every publisher in the industry. We had some interest here and there but no takers. Finally in 2011, by agreement, I self-published Penelope and The Birthday Curse. Only took ten-plus years to get there.
Three more middle-grade mysteries in the “A Penelope Mystery” series followed. Then I switched gears and began writing for the “big kids.” One novel that followed told a story of a rich northerner who travels to rural North Carolina and gets involved with moonshiners, good-ole-boy politics, and killers. Another book covered a murder in a remote village in the Appalachian Mountains, and the main suspect is a vampire. Then I found my love….writing paranormal mysteries.
In 2014, my literary agent found a home for my “A Cavendish Brown Paranormal Mystery” series with Champagne Books Group. Book 2 came out this past month. The Fortune Teller’s Secret arrived March 6, and I am so excited about it. I still write a bit off-the-wall. This eccentric cast includes a Goth witch, a psycho psychic, a belly dancer, a bad-ass sheriff, a crafty carnival manager, a waist-high sideshow barker, and a sleazy school teacher. A dead body is found aboard the Ferris wheel at the fall carnival. Cavendish Brown, the editor of the town newspaper, matches wits with a ghost, a killer and a bunch of kooky carnival characters to solve this Who-Done-It.
It took a long time and self-belief since that first book. And I’d do it again.
About the Author
Originally from the Midwest, Ron D. Voigts now calls North Carolina home where he and his wife have a home off the Neuse River. Ideas for his stories comes from the rural areas where he has lived, places he has visited, his love of the paranormal, and an overactive imagination. Ron considers his writing to be a literary fusion of mystery, thriller, paranormal, and any genre that suits the moment. When not plunking out a novel at the keyboard, he spends his time sharpening his culinary skills, watching gritty movies, and eating cookies with chocolate chips.