Monday, October 31, 2011

Scene of the Crime with Author Elizabeth J. Duncan!

This week, I'd like to welcome Elizabeth J. Duncan to Scene of the Crime!

Elizabeth teaches PR at Humber College in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She's also the author of the mystery series featuring Penny Brannigan, a manicurist and expatriate Canadian living in Wales.

I read the first book in the series, The Cold Light of Mourning, in May, and I'm really looking forward to reading the other books in the series!

Elizabeth J. Duncan

If you'd like to learn more about Elizabeth and her books, here are a few links for you:

I know you're all as eager to get to the really good stuff-- the interview-- as I am, so let's get started!

What was the very first book you remember reading and loving? What makes that book so special?

Books have always been a big part of my life. I made the transition from young reader to adult reader with a set of boxed books my father gave me. The first one I read was Black Beauty, then The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and then Anna Karenina. I read them all one long summer languishing in a hammock at my parents' cottage on Chandos Lake, Ontario.

The book I loved the best was The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I was mad about him. It was a terrific thrill when I lived in London to meet the daughter of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and to write a feature story on 221B Baker Street. (It does not exist, but if it did, it would be where a branch of the NatWest bank is located. 

Her books are in good company.

I interviewed the man who responded to letters written to Mr. Holmes.) And now, my books often appear in stores shelved beside Doyle. And that's just fine with me.

Outside of your writing and all associated commitments, what do you like to do in your free time?

As I also work full time, I don't have a lot of free time, but I like reading, watching British mysteries on television and walking my dog, Dolly. I can also waste hours on my laptop and I'm never really sure afterwards what happened to all that unproductive time.

Elizabeth and Dolly
If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend that I go? (I like seeing and doing things that aren't in all the guide books.)

If you were to come to Toronto, where I live, I would suggest that we take Dolly for a walk in Colonel Sam Smith Park, on the shore of Lake Ontario. There is a delicate ecosystem there -- it's home to a variety of beautiful birds and plant life. After our walk, we will visit Sanremo, the most wonderful bakery and cafe in Toronto.

You have total control over casting a movie based on your life. Which actor would you cast as you?

Robin Duke
I would cast Robin Duke (@robindukewfc), who is not only a wonderfully talented actress (SNL alum) but a colleague of mine at Humber College. I would be hugely entertained and surprised by what she would make of the role. I would certainly request that the role be given to a Canadian.

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

I am deeply attracted to Roy Grace in the Peter James (@peterjamesuk) novels. He's smart, sexy and very human.

Name one book that you've read that you wish you had written. What is it about that book that made it come to mind?

I wish I'd written Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I love the story, the settings, the characters, and the haunting and evocative use of language. I've also read it more than once, something I rarely do, so that tells me it must be special.

What did you do the first time you saw one of your books on a shelf in a bookstore? How did you celebrate when you first heard you were to be published?

The first time I saw my book on a bookstore shelf I was filled with deep gratitude to so many people who made it possible. Perhaps the most generous thing you can do in life is enable the dreams of others. I learned I would be published on a dreary morning in March, 2008, when the late Ruth Cavin, an editor at St. Martin's Press in New York, called me to tell me I had won the St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic competition. I called a couple of friends who had helped with the manuscript to share the wonderful news, and then called my son, Lucas, who was away at university in Nova Scotia. I was too excited to do much else for the rest of the day. I remember there was a stack of marking I didn't get to. My son called me again that evening, which was lovely, and we talked about it some more. It was a magical day.

I don't know if you've seen it, but I love Parnell Hall's video about book signings. What is the most unusual experience you've had at a book signing or author event?

I do know that video and it's hilarious. It's also every author's worst nightmare. What if I sit here and no one comes? One of my favourite signings was sitting beside Jeanne M. Dams at Malice Domestic. I had really enjoyed her Dorothy Martin books and it was so much fun to meet her and have that time together to chat. And while we were sitting there, we came up with the idea of including each other's characters in our next books -- a cameo appearance! So you can look for a special guest  appearance by Dorothy Martin in A Killer's Christmas in Wales.

The way some people talk, the only way to read now or in the future is with some sort of electronic device, like my husband's Nook. What is your opinion of eBooks, and how will they affect you as a published author?

I don't know how they'll affect me as an author. As a reader, I am curious about them, but I can't stop buying books. I love the feel of them, the browsing experience, the discovery of a new author .... I can't duplicate that experience online. I get excited walking into a bookstore knowing I'm about to get a literary fix.

On Sale Now!

Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Elizabeth. We really appreciate the opportunity to get to know you a little better!

May your book sales do nothing but increase! I love the cover of A Killer's Christmas in Wales, and I look forward to reading it.


  1. And I look forward to your review of A Killer´s Christmas!

    I really like your interviews, and it definitely matters to me if writers like reading or not. Recently I came across a young man who had just published his first novel. Will you believe it, he boasted that he had never read a book since his teachers forced him to! Was I tempted to read HIS? Nope.

  2. Dorte-- I haven't got my hands on a copy yet; I need to make a trip to the Poisoned Pen!

    I think I would be tempted to tell that young man that no one would be able to force me to read his book!

  3. She mentions Ruth Cavan. I met her at a writers' conference in NYC years ago and was so impressed with her real interest in writers whether they were published or not. Very generous and smart lady.

    Dolly looks so cuddly. I'd take her for a walk anytime.

  4. Barbara-- I'd be more than happy to walk Dolly, too. I think I even have a red jacket that's a twin to the one Elizabeth's wearing in the photo!


Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!