Stacy Juba is the author of the mystery novel Twenty-Five Years Ago Today. She is a freelance writer and former daily newspaper reporter with more than a dozen writing awards to her credit, including three New England Press Association awards and the American Cancer Society New England Chapter’s Sword of Hope Media Award. Her young adult novel Face-Off was published under her maiden name, Stacy Drumtra, when she was 18 years old. Her web site is http://www.stacyjuba.com/.
Stacy, welcome to my blog.
When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
I wrote my first suspense thriller in third grade, and by fifth grade, I was writing a mystery series about a teenage amateur detective named Cathy Summers. I grew up reading Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Trixie Belden. Although Face-Off wasn’t a mystery, most of the writing I’ve done since childhood has been in the mystery genre.
Briefly tell us about Twenty-Five Years Ago Today. Series or stand-alone?
Twenty-Five Years Ago Today would appeal to both mystery fans and romantic suspense fans. For twenty-five years, Diana Ferguson’s killer has gotten away with murder. When rookie obit writer and newsroom editorial assistant Kris Langley investigates the cold case of the artistic young cocktail waitress who was obsessed with Greek and Roman mythology, she must fight to stay off the obituary page herself. Right now, I plan it as a stand-alone since I’m working on developing another series – but you never know!
What’s the hook for the book?
The hook is a 25-year-old cold case dredged up from the microfilm. My protagonist, newsroom editorial assistant Kris Langley, compiles the “25 Years Ago Today” column as one of her responsibilities. While researching her column on the microfilm, she stumbles across an unsolved murder and becomes determined to solve it as a way of redeeming herself from a past mistake. Upon investigating, she opens a Pandora’s Box of secrets.
Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?
Dex Wagner, the 70-year-old editor-in-chief of the paper, is definitely the most unusual character in the book and readers tell me that they like him also. He wears rumpled suits, baseball caps and penguin-patterned ties, and the staff considers him eccentric. The publisher is looking for an excuse to get rid of him as he and the new managing editor – a workaholic Corporate Barbie – are always clashing. Although Dex is offbeat and a bit old-fashioned, he has good news sense and knows the communities in their readership area like the back of his hand. He acts as a mentor to the protagonist, Kris Langley. Dex represents how independent newspapers are being taken over by big-city corporations which often change the small-town lifeline of the paper. The corporations believe they are making improvements, but are they really? I’m not so sure.
Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?
I’m not one of those laidback writers who can make it up as they go along. For my work-in-progress, I’m using a 10-page outline that maps out the main events in each chapter. I divide the outline into three acts: Act One is the book’s set-up, Act Two is the development of the crisis, and Act Three is the resolution. The outline isn’t written in stone, but it keeps me on track so I always know what scene to write next.
Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?
I always write in the third person and I usually stick to one narrator. Editors have called my style clear and evocative. Coming from a journalistic background, I don’t waste a lot of words and I rely on quotes (dialogue) to break up the text. In my books, you won’t go more than a few pages without seeing dialogue.
Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve even had.
I’m pleased with all of the reviews that Twenty-Five Years Ago Today has received, but I was particularly honored by this comment from Fran Lewis at Bookpleasures.com: “What do Diana’s studying and painting of Greek and Roman mythology have to do with the surprise ending? You will have to read this well crafted, well-researched and outstanding first novel of the newest mystery writer on the block, Stacy Juba. To the great mystery writers of the 21st century, make room for the author of this great book.”
What are your current projects?
Mainly Murder Press will publish my second mystery novel, Sink or Swim, in Fall 2010. Here’s a little synopsis: When reality TV turns to murder, it’s sink, swim or die. Not only has Cassidy Novak walked the plank and lost a hit action-adventure reality show set aboard a Tall Ship, she has also attracted a stalker who is masterminding his own twisted game. As her former competitors get knocked off one by one, Cassidy refuses to play by his bizarre rules. Soon, Cassidy must walk the plank once again – this time for her life. In addition, I’m polishing up a paranormal young adult thriller Dark Before Dawn, and I’m also working on a new adult mystery series. At some point, I’d like to bring back an updated edition of my young adult book Face-Off, so I’ll be approaching agents and publishers and researching different options down the line.
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
They can visit http://www.stacyjuba.com for all of the latest book and event news. If they’d like to receive my e-mail newsletter 2-3 times per year, they can use the contact form to sign up for my mailing list. I also have a Reader’s Guide for book clubs on the web site, for clubs interested in discussing Twenty-Five Years Ago Today. In addition, I post news and updates on my Facebook page. If anyone is interested in following the page, it can be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/ylh2q4h .
How to Buy the Book: Twenty-Five Years Ago Today is available for purchase at http://www.mainlymurderpress.com, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. It is also being carried in independent bookstores. If your local bookstore doesn’t have it in stock, they should be able to order it by the ISBN: 978-0-615-29011-9. More information is available at http://www.stacyjuba.com.
Stacy, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. I hope 2010 is a great year for your writing career.