Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vicki Delany Talks about NEGATIVE IMAGE

Interviewed by Sandra Parshall

Vicki Delany is a former systems analyst for a major bank who grew up in Canada, lived in South Africa for eleven years, and now enjoys her peaceful home in rural Prince Edward County, Ontario, where she seldom wears a watch and can write whenever she likes. She is the author of the Constable Molly Smith series, the Klondike Mysteries series, and two standalone suspense novels. Visit her website at

Q. Tell us about your new book, Negative Image.

A. Negative Image is the fourth in the Constable Molly Smith series set in the fictional town of Trafalgar, British Columbia. The book asks: What would you do if you believe the person you trust most in the world betrays you? What would you do if you discovered that the person you trust most in the world believes you capable of betrayal?

When renowned photographer Rudolph Steiner is found murdered, Police Sergeant John Winters learns that his wife is the prime suspect. The former supermodel was the murder victim's lover 25 years earlier, and although his beautiful young wife and photographic assistant have accompanied him to Trafalgar, Steiner lures Eliza Winters to his hotel room just prior to his death. There are other suspects, but when investigators from the RCMP arrive to take over the case they seem to be focused on one suspect only,  Eliza Winters. John Winters is forced into the most difficult decision of his life: loyalty to his job or to his wife. Constable Molly Smith has her own troubles: a series of B&Es has the peaceful town in an uproar, her overprotective Mountie boyfriend is fighting with her colleagues, and a vengeful stalker is watching her every move.

Q. Did you know everything there was to know about your continuing characters when you began the series, or have they surprised you as the series has continued? What have you learned about them – their secrets and pasts – that you didn’t know about at first? For example, did you know from the start that John’s wife Eliza had the secret that’s revealed in Negative Image?

A. I knew most things about John and Molly, but some of the other characters have surprised me. For example, when I sat down to write the scene where John Winters, the detective Sergeant, is introduced in In the Shadow of the Glacier, I had him on a date. He is with a beautiful, sexy woman and has bought her a gift he cannot afford because he is hoping to score. By the time the scene ended they were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. And I think that works a lot better. Molly Smith’s romantic relationships are in turmoil, so the books need the counterbalance of the Winters’ stable, long-term marriage. I wrote a scene for Valley of the Lost, the second book, in which Eliza is thinking about being married to a cop and that scene brought out things about her past which surprised me. The scene was mostly deleted from Valley of the Lost, but the idea was there to be the plot of Negative Image.

Q. What is it about Molly Smith and John Winters that makes you want to follow them over the course of numerous books? What qualities in these characters appeal to you and intrigue you?

A. As far as I know, Molly Smith is unique in police procedurals as she is young and green and very na├»ve. She is on probation in the first two books. I did that because first of all I want to explore issues of growing up as a young woman today (I have three daughters in that age group). For example in Negative Image her boyfriend, who is also a cop, is so over-protective she worries about what would happen if they were in a dangerous situation together. Also because I want to have lots of opportunity to have her grow as a woman and as a police officer. Winters is just a nice guy. He has a hard job and he fears that it will turn him hard.  But it doesn’t, because he is at heart a good man.

Q. Why did you choose to set a series in a small community? Now that you’ve written several books set there, do you see disadvantages and advantages to the setting that you didn’t see at first? Do you think it limits the type of story you can tell?

A. These books could only be set in a small town. Because, as I said, Molly Smith is so junior that in a city she would spend her day writing traffic tickets. But because she knows this town and its inhabitants, Winters (who is a newcomer) relies on her local knowledge thus she has reason to be involved in major crimes. The books are intended to have a strong focus on the protagonists’ families, Molly Smith’s mother, Lucky, and Winters’ wife, Eliza, and it is the small town, the close-knit community that allows them to be involved, without stretching the bounds of coincidence too much. I really can’t think of any limitations to having the books in a small town. Because Trafalgar is a tourist town (as is its real life inspiration) and home to a lot of transients, plenty of people are coming all the time, and bringing their problems with them.

Q. How do you personally like living in a rural area after leaving your career in the financial industry? Has it been a big adjustment?

A. Love love love it. I seem to have simply settled in here and needed no adjustment at all. I hate it now when I have to go into the city and drive through all that traffic.

Q. You’ve also written suspense. Why did you decide to write a traditional mystery series?

A. My novels Scare the Light Away and Burden of Memory were standalone suspense books. But when I decided to start a series I wanted to write the sort of books I love to read. And that is mostly the traditional British-type police procedural.

Q. Do you think you’ll ever write about the world of finance you left behind?

A. Never. Not interested going back there at all.

Q. Do you take ideas from real life and shape them to create stories? Are any of your characters inspired by real people? Rudolph Steiner, for example – where did that (despicable!) character come from?

A. Very few of my characters or incidents have any basis in reality. The best example, however, is the bike on the cover of In the Shadow of the Glacier, the first book in the series. I had begun the first book when my new bike was stolen. I’d only had it two weeks. I was so mad I wrote a sub-plot into the book about a bike theft ring. And I can assure you, in the book the bike thief comes to a very nasty end. I have spent some time in the last couple of years with police officers trying to get my policing right and some of the funny little things that happen or the stories they tell me are put into the books, but I’ve never used anything as a plot device.
Rudolph Steiner, that charming fellow — just a product of my imagination.

Q. Turning the focus to the publishing business, how do you feel about the current wildfire growth of e-publishing? Do you think e-publishing will help small press authors in the long run by taking the expense of bookstore-based marketing out of the equation?

A. I think that e-publishing is going to be a boon for small and mid-sized presses and authors. Not because it will replace books –as long as there are libraries and people who don’t want to change to e-books, there is a market for paper books – but because it will supplement them. More choice, for sure, but I also think that people are going to buy more books for their e-reading devices. They can be spontaneous and just click away and buy a stack of books before they realize what they are doing.

Q. Are you still writing your other series, the Klondike Mysteries?

A. I am still writing the Klondike books. There are two out now, Gold Digger and Gold Fever, and Gold Mountain will be out next fall.

Q. What are you working on now?

A. I have finished the fifth Molly Smith book. It’s titled Among the Departed and will be released by Poisoned Pen Press in May 2011. I’m now going to take a break from Molly and write a standalone. It will be set in my new home of Prince Edward County and will have flashbacks to the United Empire Loyalists who settled this area. Those were the refugees who fled the U.S. after the revolution and settled in Canada. 


caryn said...

Hi Vicki!
I haven't read Negative Image yet but I plan on looking for a copy when I get home. You said you are taking a break from Molly, but you are planning to get back to her right? I'd hate to see the end of Molly!

Sandra Parshall said...

You'll enjoy the book, Caryn. I recommend it.

Vicki Delany said...

The next Molly book, Among the Departed, will be out in May. Now I'm working on a standalone, but after that I'll be heading back to Trafalgar. I decided I needed a creative break. Thanks for asking.