Welcome to New Faces, where we are delighted
to introduce some of the newest authors on the msytery scene. This week
we're pleased to welcome Valerie Wilcox, whose new sailing mystery
series kicks off with Sins of Silence. Welcome, Valerie!
Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Portland, Oregon and have lived in the Pacific Northwest
all my life (except for a brief stay in southern California when I was
in my early twenties). I'm currently living near Seattle with my husband,
a cat, a dog, and from time to time, one or more of our five "bungee cord"
kids. I'm a graduate of the University of Oregon with a master's degree
Are you coming to mystery writing from another job?
I was a teacher and management training consultant for over twenty-five
years before I became a full-time writer.
What led you to write mysteries? Are you a longtime reader?
I chose to write a mystery because that is what I like to read. I also
like memoirs, non-fiction, and various so-called literary works, but the
mystery genre as always held a special fascination for me.
Tell us about your road to publication.
I've been writing all my life (and that's a long, long time) but
I never had anything published unless you count an essay I wrote for our
local newspaper. Like a lot of unpublished writers, I questioned whether
I really had what it takes to write a novel. I was my own worst critic
and, not surprisingly, that lack of belief in myself held me back for a
long time. With my fiftieth birthday rapidly approaching, I finally decided
that it was now or never.
I began by taking classes through the University of Washington's
Writers' Certificate Program and attending every workshop, conference,
and book-related event I heard about. I met a lot of people during the
three years I worked on my novel--from authors (especially Stephen Greenleaf)
to critique group members--and they were all extremely helpful in making
my dream become a reality.
I met my future agent at the Pacific Northwest Writer's Conference about
a year before I finished the manuscript for Sins of Silence. After
I completed the novel, I submitted it to her exclusively. She responded
two weeks later and we signed a representation agreement shortly thereafter.
Within three months of signing with my agent, I had a contract offer from
Berkley Prime Crime.
What kind of research was involved for your first book?
I'd always heard that you should write about what you know (or
would like to know more about). I was living on a sailboat at the time
I began writing Sins of Silence and so I had my protagonist, Kellie
Montgomery, live on a sailboat. Three of my daughters are adopted and so
I gave Kellie an adopted college-age daughter. My daughters decided to
search for their birth mothers while I was writing the novel. So, you guessed
it, Kellie's daughter decides to search for her birth mother. But don't
get me wrong, I like doing research. The best experience I had was learning
about police procedures. I attended a community police academy where I
got to ride in a squad car, take fingerprints, fire a weapon at the firing
range, and listen to presentations on everything from ethics to crime scene
analysis by some of the finest professionals in the business.
Who are your influences as a writer?
Generally speaking, I like any author who can make me laugh -- especially
Janet Evanovich, G.M. Ford, and Earl Emerson. But Michael Connelly is my
all-time favorite author.
What does your family think of having a mystery author in their
My family is very supportive of my writing. My kids question my
sanity at times, but then they did that before I became a writer.
Tell us about plans for future books. I signed a three-book
contract with Berkley Prime Crime. Sins of Silence will be followed
by Sins of Betrayal in July 1999 and Sins of Deception in
How can readers get in touch with you?
I enjoy hearing from readers. They can visit my web site: www.nwlink.com/~vjwilcox
or contact me directly via e-mail: email@example.com.
Thanks, Valerie, and best of luck! Readers, you can find a review
of Sins of Silence on our pages.
October 18, 1998