Wednesday, February 3, 2021

FEATURED AUTHOR: JONETTE BLAKE

 



ABOUT THE BOOK


Retiring to this town could be fatal.



Delia Frost loves her job at the bank. She loves her customers, most of whom are elderly. She doesn’t love the idea of quitting her job to travel around Australia in a motor home with her husband who is recovering from a heart attack. And she can’t bring herself to tell him that she doesn’t want to go.



Days before quitting her job, she is invited to a book club meeting, run by a local celebrity. This seems like a beacon of hope, one last chance to do something for herself before she leaves it all behind.

But this isn’t a random invitation.



Delia has been carefully selected by a serial killer to play her part in the murders of elderly widows.



Finding herself caught in a web of lies and murder, and not wanting to believe the killer is someone she knows, Delia is keen to leave this town as fast as she can. Except the killer doesn't want to let her go.

Book Details:       

Title: The Widow Catcher

Author: Jonette Blake

Genre: Murder Mystery/Thriller

Series: Delia Frost novels
, book 1
Published: August 28, 2020

Print length: 260 pages




   


LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT WITH JONETTE BLAKE


Things you need in order to write:
quiet. I read that some authors listen to music, but that distracts me because I love listening to music. I need to be deep into the writing, deep into the character’s mind, and I can only do this with absolute quiet.
Things that hamper your writing: checking emails, checking sales reports, checking social media. Thinking about all the marketing I need to do. Updating the website. All the admin stuff detracts from the writing. On the other hand, I enjoy doing that side of things. Plus I also have a part-time job and I often find that after a day doing payroll my brain is dead. So I do the writing on my non-work days and admin on the work days.


Easiest thing about being a writer: that nobody told me to do this so I can do whatever my heart desires.

Hardest thing about being a writer: the hardest thing is doing something you love even though nobody asked you to do it. So it is a constant conflict between an internal desire to succeed and the ability to accept that you might not find the success you desire.


Things you love about where you live: most of the year it’s a quiet haven, a small coastal town with beaches, bushwalking, lots of birdlife, and it’s only a short scenic drive to a wildlife park and unique shops. My home town is the setting for The Widow Catcher, and it was fantastic to be able to use this setting. Who’d have thought a small seaside town could be so much fun to write about.
Things that make you want to move: when the tourists arrive for Christmas and us locals become shy animals that only venture out at dusk and dawn to grab our food essentials and dash home. It gets very crowded, and traffic is a nightmare. It’s still nothing like in the city, but when you get used to quiet streets you don’t like to see it change.  

Things you never want to run out of: after everything that happened in 2020, I can honestly say basic food, toilet paper, fuel is the stuff I never want to run out of. For me, 2020 started with bushfires that saw the highways in to our town blocked. We had the toilet paper shortage months before Corona Virus hit. We also had shortages on basic food like pasta, rice, flour, sugar. The shelves were empty, and what stock they could get in was rationed. I used to be the type who didn’t like to have hundreds of tins in the pantry, I dislike waste, and I simply don’t have the room either. I bought what I needed when I needed it. But I never want to run out of basic food items again. So now I am a double-up buyer, and I’m trying to make sure I always have a full tank of fuel. That actually scared me, because I had very little fuel, there were 5 kilometer line-ups for the fuel station, and if we had to evacuate . . . yikes!
Things you wish you’d never bought: a double-seated kayak that my husband takes with us sometimes on camping trips for fishing. I hate fishing. It’s one of those things you do when you start dating just so you can “spend time together” and you realize you would rather stick a knife into your hand. I try to take a book or something to do on the kayak, but there isn’t much to do. My mind wanders to all the things I could be doing other than sitting in the middle of the lake with nothing to do. I’d rather sell it for something I’d use like a guitar amplifier.


Favorite foods: I was born in Ireland, and it is so true that we love our potatoes. So anything potato. Potato chips. Fries. Mashed potato. Potato salad. Roast potato.
Things that make you want to throw up: most sea foods like octopus, oysters, scallops. I like fish and prawns but only in small amounts. Fairy floss is the other food I can’t stomach.

Favorite music or song: I love 80s music. It was the best era for music. So many songs have stood the test of time. I love Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. I listened to her albums growing up and they got me through my teen years.
Music that make your ears bleed: Ska and bibbidy bobbidy type jazz with no rhyme or reason to it. And also horrible punk with screeching vocals. Nothing wrong with good melodies.

Favorite beverage: Diet Coke.

Something that gives you a pickle face: iced tea.

Something you wish you could do: I would love to be able to play piano stupendously well or play lead guitar like Slash. I am average on the acoustic guitar, and I can play piano well enough to sing a few of my favorite songs. But I would love my fingers to play what I hear.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: cook. They say never be good at something you don’t like doing. I learned to make a few wonderful dishes, and I make the best lime meringue pie ever. But my goal for old age is to toss every meal into the microwave and please my taste buds with wine instead.

People you consider as heroes: I get choked up on stories of people who’ve spent hours rescuing an animal who got stuck in a river or under a house. But in January 2020 I got to see heroes in my home town, particularly when we had fire fighters travelling from all over the country and the world come to help put out the devastating bushfires in Australia. Plus  there was a wonderful store owner in town who generously gave things to those who needed, like pre-cooked meal, gas bottles, water, milk. We also had no electricity at this stage, and living in a cashless society as we do, nobody could pay for goods. She would just open her store doors and give them what they needed. 

People with a big L on their foreheads: criminals. I don’t have much empathy for people who deliberately set out to harm others. I guess I am a lot like Delia Frost in that respect.



Things you always put in your books: real-life issues, and the reason I do this is a) to connect readers to the characters, for sure, but b) to also show readers that sometimes we are too hard on ourselves, and so if I put in real life issues and the characters come out fine, then maybe we’ll all be okay too. 
Things you never put in your books: graphic sex scenes. I am a prude. Deal with it.

Favorite places you’ve been: I loved Vanuatu. The people were incredibly sweet. It is like stepping back in time. It’s so easy to never want to leave a place like that.
Places you never want to go to again: I can’t think of anywhere I’d never want to go to again. Even a bad holiday is better than a good day at work.





EXCERPT FROM THE WIDOW CATCHER

Chapter 1

Susan

ONE WEEK AGO

The setting sun cast a shadow on the headstone. A cool wind blew down the mountain. Susan Johnson tugged at her long woollen coat thinking she would soon be trading this blustery weather for tropical bliss and poolside cocktails.

She placed a hand on the headstone to steady herself and leaned over to drop a bouquet of lilies on the gravesite. She regretted not being able to bend low to lovingly place the flowers in the slot provided, but if her seventy-six-year-old body tilted even a few degrees she would topple over. It was embarrassing having paramedics lift her off the floor.

“This is goodbye for now, love,” she told the ten-years-dead occupant. “Just for a little while. I won’t be visiting because I’m off on a holiday.” She smiled and nodded. “Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I never go anywhere by myself. But I’m not going alone.”

The snap of twigs pierced the frigid air. Her grip remained on the headstone for support. But she managed to twist her head to catch a glimpse of the noisemaker.

Someone was here.

“I won’t be long,” she told the man. “I was just telling Eric about our trip.”

The man stood with his hands thrust deep into the pockets of his trouser pants. The sunlight framed his body, and she wanted to picture him as an angel, instead the image of angry plovers at the beach protecting their nests popped into mind. The sneaky way they flew towards you with the rising sun blinding you to their attack meant you heard the click of their beaks too late.

She pushed off this sense of trepidation and the chill that followed. It was just nerves. This trip was something new for her; it was bound to give her goose bumps.

She returned her attention to her late husband’s grave. “We’re in for a storm. You’d better batten down the hatches.” She laughed gently, then her features grew serious. “My new friend has promised to take me to North Queensland. Well, to the airport at least. That’s a big help. Once I’m on the plane I’ll be fine. Ah, Eric, I’m finally going to a place where the nights are warm and I wish you could be coming with me. I’ll be gone a few weeks.”

“Susan,” her visitor called out. “I’m ready when you are.”

“We’re off to the airport,” she told the gravestone.

The day had finally arrived when she was going on holiday. Without her friend’s support, she’d never have found the courage to say ‘book it’. He’d helped with booking the flights, hotels, and the tourist destination. He’d even created a week-long itinerary. She fumbled in her pocket for it but couldn’t find it.

Where have I put it?

Never mind. Her friend would have a copy.

She was finally going to see the Great Barrier Reef. It had been a cast-aside dream until her friend had searched on the website and found a tour operator with a glass-bottom boat who specialised in trips for people with mobility issues.

“Susan,” he called out again. “We don’t want to be late.”

“I’m almost done,” she replied, though the wind snatched away her words. Once, she’d had the strength in her lungs to be heard over an earthquake, but years of cigarette smoking had reduced her voice to an almost inaudible wheeze.

She spoke to the headstone again: “I know you think he’s only using me for my money, but he’s never asked for any. He’s not like that.” She patted the headstone. “I’ll bring you back a present.”

She hobbled over with the aid of her cane to join the man.

He lifted a bouquet of flowers from a shopping bag at his feet. “I brought something to show my respects,” he said, thrusting them at her.

Yellow roses were her favourite; they’d be wasted on Eric. Her late husband wouldn’t have known a rose from a weed.

The man smiled at her. “Will you place these on his grave for me?”

“I thought you said we were in a hurry.”

“I said we don’t want to be late. We have time to say our goodbyes.”

She glanced back at the gravesite. There was a lot of uneven lawn between here and there. Her cane had sunk into the dirt already and almost tripped her over a dozen times.

“You should take them yourself,” she told the man.

“Susan, I feel downright scandalous taking his wife to the airport for the first real holiday of her life. I can’t go over there and rub this in his face. Even in death, a person has dignity. My mother used to tell me that all the time. She was a nurse at a hospital in Sydney. Saw people dying every day. A lot of elderly people, too. The stories she told me of comfort she gave them in their final years has made me the compassionate man I am today.”

Susan knew a snow job when she heard one. She was old, arthritic, deaf in one ear, probably riddled with emphysema, but she was not stupid. Still, a sense of gratitude swept over her. She would have been locked inside the aged-care facility forever if her young friend had not convinced her to do something adventurous with the remaining years of her life.

“All right,” she said. “And then we’re off to the airport.”

She gripped her cane in one hand and the yellow roses in the other and set off across the uneven lawn.

“Be sure to inhale the perfume before you place them on the grave,” the man called out. “I asked the florist to select the most delectable bunch.”

Susan stopped and pulled the bouquet closer to her face to take in the scent. This bunch was strong. Probably perfumed. Everything was perfumed these days: soap, washing powder, toilet paper, tissues. As if the big companies could convince the population that life smelled like roses, therefore it must be roses.

She took a deep breath. This was a strange scent. Stronger than most. Not rosy at all. More like yellow jonquils. They had a stink that could cause nostril hairs to fall out.

She coughed on the odour. Her cough turned into a fit, one that fifty years of smoking ensured would bring a crushing pain to her chest.

Then her head began to swim. Her vision blurred. Her chest should have gulped for air. Instead it felt like it was sealing itself shut, jam-jar tight.

She twisted and tried to run toward the man who was still dappled in hues of orange and pink as the sun set behind him. She called out for help but her voice was lost. She couldn’t move.

The cool wind raced along her body like a knife, except this wasn’t the wind. This was an invisible chill attacking her veins.

Her limbs grew weak. She lost her grip on her cane.

A stroke? A heart attack? Years of being warned about the impact of smoking did not lessen the shock that it was actually happening.

Unable to support herself, she fell to the ground.

“Help,” she called out, though her voice was barely above a whisper.

The sun was setting faster now. Her visitor was now a dark, ominous shadow.

A shadow that wasn’t rushing to help her.

He should have grabbed his phone and called for medical help.

He should have raced over to her and administered first aid.

He should have done something.

Instead, he stood at the edge of the cemetery with his hands thrust in his pockets, rocking back and forth on his heels.

“Help,” she spluttered in between chest-breaking coughs.

She couldn’t get enough air into her lungs.

The man still did not make any movement to help her.

At last, he walked towards her and knelt down to stare into her face. His stare was vacant, expressionless, and when he tilted his head and frowned, she realised it wasn’t a vacant stare, but one of curiosity.

As if he’d never seen someone die before.

She reached for his hand.

He reached out for her.

His hand moved to the left toward the flowers. She noticed he wore gloves.

Had he been wearing them earlier?

The bouquet of flowers were pushed closer to her face. The pungent stench had lessened, as if her senses had adapted to the stink. More likely they were numbed by something else. Chemicals.

Now she recognised the scent. It was…

Sharp pain shot throughout her body. Her muscles contorted. Her vision blurred.

She saw his shadow fade away.

And then everything went dark.

***

Excerpt from The Widow Catcher by Jonette Blake.  Copyright 2020 by Jonette Blake. Reproduced with permission from Jonette Blake. All rights reserved.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 


Jonette Blake writes supernatural thrillers and suspense thrillers. She is the author of over ten books and dozens of short stories, writing as D L Richardson.

She was born in Ireland and grew up in Australia. She lived through the 80s and music is still a big part of her life. When she is not writing, she plays her piano and guitar, listens to music, reads, and enjoys the beach.

She has held jobs in administration, sales and marketing, has worked in HR, payroll, and as a bank teller. Her latest novel The Widow Catcher is based on the coastal town she lives in and her own bank teller experience.






Connect with Jonette:

Website Blog   |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble



a Rafflecopter giveaway

3 comments:

  1. I have the same problem that hampers the author with her writing, but in my case it is reading. Checking my feed, social media, etc. definitely interrupts my reading, especially this past year when there were updates about COVID every few minutes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks so much for taking part in this tour. I loved answering these questions.

    ReplyDelete