Posted on 05/02/2019 at 08:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Today we’re interviewing Connie Shelton, the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Charlie Parker mysteries and Samantha Sweet series, both set in New Mexico. 

Her newest, the Heist Ladies series, features a group of five Arizona-based women who travel the world, using creative ways and their various talents to track down bad guys. 

She's known for a light touch when it comes to sex and violence in her stories, but is much more lavish with food and chocolate. She says, “I love cooking and I love mysteries, so the chance to include some of my favorite New Mexico dishes in my stories is irresistible.” She and her husband enjoy travel, so new locations and foods tend to show up in her stories. 

Besides writing mysteries, Connie is an award‑winning essayist and was a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul. Her work has been published in various anthologies, and her short stories have won several prizes.

Shelton has also been a commercial hot air balloon pilot and holds the women's world altitude record for size AX‑4 balloons. She and her husband currently live in northern New Mexico with their two dogs.

SADYE: How did you come to see yourself as a writer, and what inspired you to seek publication? 

CONNIE: Books have been my passion and driving interest since childhood, from the first chapter book I read at age seven to the Nancy Drew mysteries that captivated me into my early teens. 

I think it was inevitable that one day I would want to try my hand at writing, but it was when I discovered a book on how to write a novel that I realized these were skills that could be learned. 

Until then, I assumed writers were just somehow “born with it,” so discovering that I could learn how to craft a story and create great characters — that’s what gave me the courage to give it a try. 

Seeking publication was simply a part of that. I needed to know whether my efforts would appeal to an audience.

SADYE: Which of your characters would you most and least like to trade places with?

CONNIE: I’d love to trade places with Samantha Sweet.

She lives in a small town, owns a bakery, and an old bruja gave her a magical wooden box that gives Sam certain powers, including special visions, which she uses to help solve crimes.  

Unlike many of today’s female sleuths, Sam is over fifty and a little overweight; fans tell me they relate to her and love her.

I think I would least like to become Amber Zeckis from my Heist Ladies series.

She’s young and super smart — I love that — but she skirts the edges of the law — a lot. I would never sleep if I were actually doing the things she does!

SADYE: What period of history would you most like to travel back to and why?

CONNIE: I’m enchanted with Victorian England. Would love to go to that time and meet Charles Dickens.

It would be amazing to sit and talk about writing with someone who became such a luminary.

I’ve stayed several times at an historic hotel in the small town of Bury St. Edmunds and have seen the room where Dickens stayed when he was writing The Pickwick Papers.

The room is tiny and cozy, and one day maybe I’ll request that room and go there to write a book myself. How amazing would that be!

SADYE: What has been the most touching or memorable piece of reader feedback you’ve received?

CONNIE: When readers share their personal stories with me, it always means so much.

I had a note from one fan who said she read my Samantha Sweet books while sitting at her dying mother’s bedside in hospice.

She told me that the fantasy elements took her out of her own situation and the light humor helped her to keep her sanity.

I immediately teared up to think she had made a place in her day for me, at a time when her own life was at such a difficult point.

SADYE: What message or theme would you like readers to take away from your work?  

CONNIE: I don’t write themes so much, but I do like for readers to see my female characters for what they are — smart, spunky, and accomplished.

I write three very different mystery series, and in each one the female protagonists are unique individuals with different talents.

I love the idea that we can all be what we want to be!

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Learn more about Connie Shelton on her website, where her books can also be purchased; like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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Categories: Author Interview

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