Posted in Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight of Sybil Johnson, author of Ghosts of Painting Past, An Aurora Anderson Mystery

It’s my pleasure to interview author Sybil Johnson from Manhattan Beach, California.

Hi, Sybil. Please tell us how long you’ve been published and share some details about your books. h

My first published piece of fiction was a short story, “Family Business”, that came out in 2005 in Crimson Dagger, a magazine that’s now long gone. It marked the first appearance of Rory Anderson, the main character in my Aurora Anderson mystery series. The first book in the series, Fatal Brushstroke, also my first book published, came out in November 2014. There are 5 books in the series so far, all published by Henery Press – Fatal Brushstroke, Paint the Town Dead, A Palette For Murder, Designed For Haunting and the recently released Ghosts of Painting Past.

My series features computer programmer and tole/decorative painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson. The books are set in the fictional town of Vista Beach, California. Ghosts of Painting Past, the fifth book in my series, came out November 19, 2019. In it:

It’s Christmastime in the quiet Los Angeles County city of Vista Beach, home of computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson. The magic of the season fills the air as residents enjoy school concerts, a pier lighting ceremony and the annual sand-snowman contest.

During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Rory plans on painting ornaments to sell at the local craft fair and joining in on the holiday fun. But she finds the season anything but jolly after the house across the street is torn down, revealing a decades old crime. Past meets present when her father is implicated in the murder.

Fearing for her father’s future, Rory launches her own investigation, intent on discovering the truth and clearing his name.

Sounds like a wonderful holiday mystery and also one that people would enjoy reading at any time.

Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

I’m currently working on book 6 in the series that’s set around Valentine’s Day. I also have a couple ideas for other series—one cozy, one historical—that I’d like to develop further. At some point, I intend to get back to writing short stories. A dream of mine is to one day be published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine or Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. I think the best way of reaching my goals is to continue to write and submit my work.

Great goals. Good luck with them.

What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

Anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries and a good whodunit.

Your books should attract a wide audience.

What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?

Be persistent and be willing to learn about writing and the publishing world. Join an organization like Sisters in Crime, if possible. There you’ll get a lot of support from other authors. I also think writing short stories is a good way to dip your toes in the water and, potentially, get some publishing credits.

I agree. I’m a member of Sisters in Crime myself, and I also write short stories in addition to my mystery series and novels.

What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?

I first started writing in my early 40s while I was still in the software development game. I’d read a lot of mysteries over the years, but had no experience in writing fiction. My first challenge was to learn how to write fiction in general and a cozy mystery in particular. I read a lot of how-to books on writing and took a couple online classes geared toward mysteries. I also knew absolutely nothing about the publishing business. I joined Sisters in Crime and learned a lot from other authors. I’m a perfectionist so I find it hard to accept that I don’t have to be perfect when I write the first draft of a scene. I have to constantly remind myself of this even now.

Thanks for sharing your publishing challenges.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I’m a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. I served on the board of the Los Angeles chapter of Sisters in Crime for 6 years as Recording Secretary, Vice President/Programming Director and finally President. I recently finished a two year stint as We Love Libraries Coordinator for Sisters in Crime National.

Nice. As I said, I’m also a member of Sisters in Crime and their online Guppies chapter. In addition, I’m also a librarian.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I love reading, of course, both fiction and non-fiction. Like my main character, Rory, I enjoy decorative/tole painting, which I’ve been doing since the early 90s. I also enjoy learning about languages, particularly ancient ones. My focus for quite a few years has been on Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and Coptic.

Interesting hobbies and those that will help you with your writing, too.

What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

I enjoy plotting stories and putting together a set of characters. It’s great fun to create my own little world. Deadlines are one of my least favorite things about being an author. I have a love/hate relationship with them. On one hand, they keep me writing on a consistent basis. On the other, I feel very stressed out every time I think about them. The other thing I find challenging is the promotion end of writing. While I enjoy meeting readers and going to conferences, promoting myself and my work doesn’t come naturally to me.

I have the same issues, and I think most writers don’t enjoy promoting themselves even though it’s necessary to sell their books.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

As a reader I’m drawn to cozies for a variety of reasons. I enjoy visiting the worlds and characters authors create. I feel like the characters are old friends. I also enjoy the puzzle aspect of cozies where the emphasis is on the problem and finding out whodunit rather than on blood and gore. They also always have a satisfying ending where the case is solved and the killer brought to justice, something that doesn’t always happen in the real world.

Those are the same things that I like about writing them. I like building a world and characters that I can revisit again and again. I like putting together a puzzle that readers will enjoy seeing solved, putting in twists and turns and red herrings. I also feel great satisfaction in figuring out a way for the killer to be revealed and caught.

As a writer and reader of cozies, I feel the same way.

Can you share a short excerpt from your latest release?

This is from Chapter 1 of Ghosts of Painting Past:

The earthmover moved back and forth, tearing down the last remnants of a house on Seagull Lane, digging up all its secrets. Its engine rumbled, producing a deafening noise heard up and down the narrow street.

Rory Anderson turned up her radio, hoping the Christmas carols would drown out the noise enough she could work. Brushing her shoulder length brown hair behind her ears, she concentrated on her computer screen. Half an hour later, a frenzied shout followed by the cutting off of the machine’s engine brought a sudden silence down on her street.

Rory looked up from her programming task and leaned over her desk to peer out the window at the construction site directly across the street from her single-story stucco home.

Construction workers clustered around the earthmover, their attention divided between something in one of the worker’s hands and the ground in the far corner of the lot. Before long, the foreman pulled out his cell phone.

Rory’s gaze shifted to the street where residents went about their business, trying to ignore the intruders on their block. On the lot to the left of the construction site, a slender woman less than five feet tall stood on a ladder, hanging icicle lights on the eaves of the Tudor-style home.

Rory returned to her work, figuring the issue would be resolved soon just like all of the others the developer had encountered the previous week. When a police car arrived less than ten minutes later and two uniformed officers approached the construction crew, she abandoned her programming task, put on a hoodie over her long-sleeved T-shirt and headed outside to see what was going on.

Nice excerpt.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?

While Ghosts of Painting Past is the fifth book in the series, you don’t have to read the others to enjoy this one. I write all of my books so a reader can pick up any of them and get into the story without having to know what happened in the ones before it.

I try to do that with my Cobble Cove series as well.

Thanks for the interview, Sybil, and best wishes to you on your new release. I’ve included the details of your blog tour for the book below.

Ghosts of Painting Past (An Aurora Anderson Mystery)
by Sybil Johnson

About Ghosts of Painting Past

Ghosts of Painting Past (An Aurora Anderson Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Henery Press (November 19, 2019)
Paperback: 264 pages
ISBN-10: 1635115590
ISBN-13: 978-1635115598
Digital ASIN: B07XC3DXGN

It’s Christmastime in the quiet Los Angeles County city of Vista Beach, home of computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson. The magic of the season fills the air as residents enjoy school concerts, a pier lighting ceremony and the annual sand-snowman contest.

During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Rory plans on painting ornaments to sell at the local craft fair and joining in on the holiday fun. But she finds the season anything but jolly after the house across the street is torn down, revealing a decades old crime. Past meets present when her father is implicated in the murder.

Fearing for her father’s future, Rory launches her own investigation, intent on discovering the truth and clearing his name.

About Sybil Johnson

Sybil Johnson’s love affair with reading began in kindergarten with “The Three Little Pigs.” Visits to the library introduced her to Encyclopedia Brown, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and a host of other characters. Fast forward to college where she continued reading while studying Computer Science. After a rewarding career in the computer industry, Sybil decided to try her hand at writing mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mysterical-E and Spinetingler Magazine, among others. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Southern California where she enjoys tole painting, studying ancient languages and spending time with friends and family.

Website: www.authorsybiljohnson.com
Facebook Author page: www.facebook.com/sybiljohnsonauthor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/sybiljohnson19
GoodReads: www.goodreads.com/SybilJohnson

Blog: : www.typem4murder.blogspot.com (This is a multi-author blog. I post every other Wednesday.)

 

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

November 18 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 19 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

November 20 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

November 21 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

November 21 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

November 22 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 23 – My Reading Journeys – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 24 – The Self-Rescue Princess – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

November 25 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

November 26 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

November 27 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 27 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 28 – Thanksgiving

November 29 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

November 29 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW

November 30 – Sapphyria’s Books – REVIEW

December 1 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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Author:

I'm a librarian at a public library and author of the Cobble Cove mystery series and other novels, short stories, articles, and a novella. My books include CLOUDY RAINBOW, REASON TO DIE, and the 4 books of my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series: A STONE'S THROW, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, WRITTEN IN STONE, and LOVE ON THE ROCKS. I've also written a romantic comedy novella, WHEN JACK TRUMPS ACE, and various short stories of different genres published by Solstice Publishing. My standalone psychological thriller, SEA SCOPE was published in May 2019 by Creativia. I have also completed the first book of a new cozy series, THE CASE OF THE CAT CRAZY LADY, Rainbow Gardens Pet Mystery #1, for which I am currently seeking representation. I am a member of Sisters-in-Crime, Long Island Authors Group, International Thriller Writers, and the Cat Writer's Association. I live on Long Island with my husband, daughter, and 3 cats.

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