Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi, Fiona! Thanks for having me on your blog. My name is Jocelyn Pedersen. I’m 59 years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m originally from Canada, but my family moved back and forth between the US and Canada while I was young and then moved to Singapore when I was 12-14 years of age. Afterward, we moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma where I finished high school (I had finished 3rd form in Singapore and was lucky enough to move before having to take my A and O level exams!). After high school, I attended the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma and I kind of forgot to leave, so I’ve been in Norman for 40 years now.
Fiona: A little about yourself (i.e., Your education, family life, etc.).
I have a BA in Spanish from the University of Oklahoma. I worked for a while after earning my bachelor’s degree as a Senior Software Consultant and then got married and started a family. I have three children, my oldest son is an engineer who lives in Missouri, my daughter is an artist in Oregon, and my youngest son is in his senior year at the University of Texas. After my marriage ended, I returned to school and earned my Master of Professional Writing degree. My master’s project was to write a novel, which was later published under the name, “An Eye for an Eye.” It’s a thriller. I
While I was in grad school, my children and I lived and worked our sheep farm–which is particularly unusual in Oklahoma which is known for cattle and horses, primarily. It took me a while to earn my master’s degree what with raising three kids and tending a sheep farm all while holding down a job, but it gave me time to get to know people at OU which served me well because I started teaching the semester after I graduated. My first teaching post was in the Journalism department, teaching Writing for Mass Media. I moved to Human Relations and taught writing there, then on to the Business College where I have taught Business Communication for about seven years now.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
An interesting tidbit about me is that I am a competitive Olympic-style weightlifter at age 59. I took up weightlifting by accident just under a year ago and have won five gold medals and I will be attending a national weightlifting competition this coming November. I’m simultaneously excited and nervous, but I plan to go and do my best–hopefully I will be on the podium when it’s all over. Cross your fingers for me! Meanwhile, I’m working with a strength coach who is wearing me out, but I can definitely tell I’m getting stronger. Stronger equals the ability to put more weight up in competition. I can already lift well over half my body weight, and although I didn’t go this year, I qualified for the Pan American Games. I hope to go next year because they will be held in Rio de Janeiro. I have my sights set on the Masters World Games in 2021. For your readers who might not know, a master athlete is anyone who is 35 years of age or older.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing when I was a small child. I wrote letters to my aunties and other pen pals. I’ve always had a love of languages and decided to go for a second bachelor’s degree in English. When I talked to the folks in the English department, the advisor told me I might as well get a master’s degree for the same number of credits and since I had a goal to write freelance, I should go talk to the folks in the School of Journalism–Professional Writing, to be exact. So I did, and while I was working on my master’s degree, for fun, I took an undergraduate course in Feature Writing. I sold three stories before the end of the semester and now write freelance for several regional venues. My stories have been picked up by the Associated Press, I’ve won several awards for them. In addition, in partial fulfilment of my master’s degree, I wrote a thriller called “An Eye for an Eye” which also won an award after it was published.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess I’ve considered myself a writer since I was in my 20s when I worked as a technical writer on a government contract. I got on that train and I haven’t reached the end of the line yet!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
As noted above, I wrote it in partial fulfilment of my master’s degree. The funny part is that I love mysteries and thrillers, but thinking that the romance market was easier to break into, I first attempted writing a romance. It was HORRIBLE!
In fact, my major professor looked at me over her glasses one day and said, “Jocelyn, what do you read?”
“Mysteries. Thrillers. Slasher novels!” I said.
“I can tell,” she said.
“Let’s just say that you writing a romance is like…well, it’s like you’re trying to dig your way out of the Bastille with a spoon.”
After I dusted myself off from laughing so hard that I hit the floor, I tossed the romance in the trash and started “An Eye for an Eye.” They say to write what you know, and I know mysteries and thrillers.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I wanted a title about revenge and since the killer is a religious nutter who misinterprets and twists Bible verses, I decided a Biblical title would fit the bill well.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I don’t take things in life too seriously. I believe laughter is soap for the soul and therefore, I can’t write without adding a little humour. The hardest part is figuring out all the plot points and burying those clues. I asked a member of my master’s committee to read the book and see if I had buried clues deep enough. On one page, there was a single-word comment: “Duh.” That was, perhaps, the most meaningful piece of critique I received in the margin of my draft. Yeah, I revised that chapter!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Oh my! I get this question in various forms somewhat frequently. If you know me, you will immediately recognise characters who are named for some of my friends, Izzy, the protagonist is a blend of a friend’s personality and mine, her partner Moreno is Latino, so I get to throw in a little Spanish here and there, and her sidekick, Apple, is wacky as all get out. Apple is a real animal lover–she totes her pet rabbit Norman (I live in Norman, Oklahoma) everywhere with her and I used to raise rabbits. Many of the funny things Apple says are things that I have said or would have no trouble saying. I popped off with a joke recently and a new friend who was cracking up said, “OMG! Who are you?” I’m pretty funny in real life. Words just come out my mouth. I don’t think about it before I say anyting–it just comes out–and it’s hilarious.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Not really. I’m well travelled and have lots of memories. And of course, there’s the Internet!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publisher, The Wild Rose Press, helped me find an artist named Angela Anderson. I think she did a great job! She asked me what I had in mind and I told her I had envisioned a big eye (I saw a mosaic eye in a New York City subway tunnel that inspired me), and I told Angela that I wanted fire. She came up with the cover art and I loved it immediately.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. Lying and meanness doesn’t pay because the truth will always be found out in the end and the rooster will come back to crow.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Recently I’ve been gobbling up new-to-me authors Linda Castillo and Chelsea Cain. Linda Castillo’s novels are intriguing because her protagonist grew up Amish, left the order, became a cop, and went back to her Amish roots to be the police chief in a small community. Blending two cultures seamlessly while integrating a little German here and there all while telling a terrific tale is inspiring.
Chelsea Cain writes good thrillers. She can be very dark though, and when I was writing my novel, I had to decide whether to go into the dark cave like she does (a few of her torture scenes can make folks cringe) or stay this side of it. I chose not to go into the dark cave, although I have had a couple of people tell me my first crime scene is a bit too detailed for them. Guess I made them visualise what the scene was like. I’m sorry if I upset a few people, but I’m also guessing the writing did its job.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Meredith Blevins. She’s a mystery writer and friend. She and her husband Win are lovely friends and they gave my book a good read and made some suggestions before I send the final version off for publication. Meredith sat back and let me ignore my book for a while after I wrote it and when I asked her if she would read the manuscript, she said, “Yes! I’ve been dying for you to ask!”
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, it already is. I die a little if I don’t write every day.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Nope. Writing that first novel was like giving birth. I’ll improve on the next one!
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes. I’ve grown as a writer. Writing is a craft; a skill. You get better at it in only one way: by writing. I’ve written a LOT since my last book, and I hope my next book is even better than the first.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Sandra Bullock or Angie Harmon.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Write. Every day. Have someone who is a better writer than you are give you critique. Don’t ask a family member because they’ll just say, “nice story, dear.”Ask someone who isn’t afraid to tell it how it is. Only with critique can we become better writers.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Read lots of different authors and try new ones! Your favourite authors were once new authors who claimed a following. If you like a book you read that was written by a new author, please post a review about the book. It’s truly the best way to help the author gain notoriety. Thanks!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
“The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson. It’s a fun ride!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It was probably “The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver” by Thornton W. Burgess. I have always loved animals and I read lots of Burgess’ animal tales as a child.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Off-the-wall humour makes me laugh out loud! Painful memories and good deeds performed by the sweetest people in God’s humanity make me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Harper Lee. I would have loved to have met her and picked her brain on Atticus Finch’s front porch. My favourite book is “To Kill a Mockingbird” and I would have adored talking to Ms. Lee about how she wove her story line, rooting for the underdog.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Yes, I make cards. I come up with my own designs sometimes. I find it relaxing to make cards and it feeds my creative side.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Mysteries! Thrillers! Forensics!
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I like all kinds of foods–perhaps because I grew up in a Canadian-Danish family and travelled the world. That said, I cannot choke down cilantro or pickles. Other than that, if it moves, grows, or isn’t nailed down, it’s fair game!
Colours: My favourite color is a dusty pink, with a pale turquoise taking a close second.
Music: I sing lead in a Sweet Adelines International chorus, so it’s clear that I like Barbershop. I also like Anglican church music–Ralph Vaughn Williams, and Randall Thompson, for example. I like The Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, and Pink when it comes to rock. I guess it’s safe to say I like music with rich harmonies, a message, or a super great beat.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’d be dead, so I can’t really say!
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Doing something fun and making absolutely sure that the people I love hear it from me one last time.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She loved life.
Side note: It will probably be chiselled in Times New Roman, 12 pt. font.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Jocelyn Pedersen is an award-winning, AP-published, professional journalist with hundreds of published clips in various newspapers and magazines. A lover of the mystery and thriller, she eats popcorn while watching documentaries about serial killers and huddles under blankets on the couch while watching Criminal Minds with her friends and family.
Jocelyn is a gold medal-winning power-lifter breaking records every month. She works with Bob White of Team Metro in Norman, Oklahoma.
She enjoys her kids, the beach, teaching writing at the University of Oklahoma, and being a former sheep farmer, considers herself a sheepie slipper aficionado. She has more animals than brains and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Rookie detective Izzy O’Donnell is on the trail of a serial killer who’s murdering victims and leaving behind body parts wrapped in Bible verses. Izzy tracks him down with the help of her two partners—a very enigmatic Moreno and a rather grumpy Cal—her injured dad’s former partner.
Meanwhile, her wacky sidekick, Apple MacIntosh, totes a pet rabbit around in a baby sling, insisting he’s telepathic and can smell death on Izzy’s clothes. Unnerved by unexplained dreams, Izzy forges forth to solve the case. A homeless man, a philandering televangelist, and a mentally challenged gardener are among the suspects who distract Izzy from seeing the killer, who has been getting to know her all along.