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Writing Crime

By Kathryn Gandek-Tighe
Posted on 4/1/2020 10:51 PM
Tessa Wegert released DEATH IN THE FAMILY on February 18th. Today we catch up with her to ask questions about the book and writing it.

How would you describe the plot of your book?

Death in the Family is the story of former NYPD detective Shana Merchant’s first case in her new home. After barely surviving an encounter with a serial killer, she has moved to the Thousand Islands in Upstate New York in the hope of finding a quieter life. Instead, she gets pulled into a missing persons case on a privately-owned island. Trapped on the island by a nor'easter with fellow investigator Tim Wellington and the missing man’s dubious family and friends, Shana must solve the crime while keeping her PTSD in check before the killer strikes again.

What excited you most about writing this story?

I’m a big fan of Agatha Christie, but I also love contemporary crime fiction stories. Death in the Family was my chance to enjoy both by writing a modern mystery with elements of quintessential detective fiction. Taking a classic story archetype and updating it for readers was definitely an exciting process.

Who is your favorite character and why?

Only a handful of the characters in this book are actually good people, so you’d think it would be easy to pick a favorite! I’m not sure I could choose between Shana and Tim, though. They have very different personalities — the same is true of their investigative strategies— but both are lovable.

Which of your skill sets were useful constructing the plot?

I’ve worked as a freelance writer for a long time, often covering digital marketing and technology. I had to get good at presenting products and services in a way that told a story and didn’t feel bland. As a result, I’m more systematic in my approach to writing fiction. I stay as organized as possible when formulating a plot. That isn’t to say I don’t make a ton of changes along the way — but that’s another skill I learned from my day job: slash words as necessary, and never look back.

What meal and drink do you think would pair well with your book?

 I can’t imagine a more appropriate meal to accompany this book than the chicken soup with fennel and farro that Philip Norton serves to Shana, Tim, and the houseguests. It would be especially nice served fireside during a storm.

Tessa Wegert is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, and The Economist. She lives with her family in Connecticut, where she writes mysteries set in Upstate New York while studying martial arts and dance. DEATH IN THE FAMILY is her first novel.
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