Bestselling Author, J.C. Wing Keeps Readers Guessing!
"J.C. Wing is a multi-genre novelist whose works include The Color of Thunder, The Gannon Family Series, the Goddess of Tornado Alley Series and a collection of short stories, personal essays and poetry titled Acquainted With Butterflies. She wrote a novella called The Key, and became a bestselling author with her first mystery, Nine Ladies Dying. She is a contributing author for the upcoming Grey’s Harbor anthology."
J.C. Wing, Welcome and a big congratulations on your new book baby, Next Day Gone. I just finished reading it and I can honestly say––YA Mystery Readers, you’re in for one heck of a twist and surprise!
Thank you so much! This tale started out as a short story I wrote for a writing challenge about two years ago. That version was published in Acquainted With Butterflies, which was a collection of short stories, personal essays and poems. I got a lot of feedback from readers saying that it needed to be a novel. That intrigued me, so I decided it might be fun to make that happen.
This is a dark story with the backdrop of high school and teen-hood that so many people can relate to. Please share with us what motivated you to write in this genre with this particular type of story?
My daughter, Maya, is a bookworm just like I am. I love many genres, but as she’s grown up, I’ve enjoyed reading Young Adult novels with her. Although some of my favorite books are YA, I’d never written in that genre and thought that was something I’d really like to do. I decided I was going to write this story for Maya. She’s partial to dark and creepy, so that’s the direction I took. There’s a lot of her personality in this book, particularly in the younger characters.
What do you find are the important points one should keep in mind while writing a mystery/thriller?
I’m not sure I’m really qualified to answer this question with any authority, but it was so important to me as I wrote not to give the killer away. I knew from the beginning how the story was going to end. I had an outline written, but there were so many details to consider. This book consumed me, and questions about the storyline, or details that could trip the narrative up popped up all the time. I’d be grocery shopping or taking my kids to school, and in my head, I’d be working some plot line out. I love mysteries, and I wanted to write one that people like me might love. I wanted to give clues, throw readers off track. Most of all, I wanted readers to care about Willow and Paige.
Besides being a mystery, in Next Day Gone, you wrote about the shocking murder of young teen girls. Not always the easiest to do without becoming overly graphic, and still presenting fully fleshed-out characters. Were there any particular scenes you found the hardest to write?
Willow’s death scene was the most difficult one I’ve written. Ever. In all the books I’ve ever published. I grew to love this girl, and not only did I cry as I wrote that scene, but every time I went back and read it. I’ve been told by readers that her death was heartbreaking, and honestly, I’m happy to hear that. It affected me as an author, and I’m thrilled it affected my readers just as much. I’d been thinking about writing this book for about a year before I sat down and put my fingers on the keys.
I'm sure you spent a good deal of time brainstorming and planning for this story, but what if anything did you edit out of this book?
As far as what I edited out of the book goes, I had planned something a bit different for the birthday scene between Jason and Willow, a twist that would have ultimately been too complicated later on in the story so I scrapped it. I’m glad I did. I’m very pleased with the way the book turned out.
What type of research did you have to do for this story?
I was lucky enough to be able to live in North Carolina for several years. I absolutely loved it there. I didn’t get to spend time in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but I’ve always been curious about the area. I’m a research nerd, and I loved learning what I could about the Blue Ridge Trail and Asheville. I researched for about a week before starting the story, and then continued to research throughout the whole writing process.
I know for me, picking the right name for a character can make or break or story. How did you select the names of your characters?
I love that you asked this question. Maya was my inspiration. This book was written for her, so I used names of some of her favorite authors, a few of her childhood friends, some favorite book and television show characters … even a favorite college professor. Edie is the exception.
While I was figuring out her character, I decided to name her after one of my friends.
I appreciated the clues you dropped throughout the book, and the way you increased the suspense, driving the story towards the big reveal at the end.
Without a doubt, your book landed a slam-twist at the end. I have to ask, did you know the end of this story before you set out to write it?
I always knew who the killer was, but I didn’t have all the details in place when I began writing. I had the main storyline, then I kept mixing things in. This is only my second thriller, and this one was more difficult to write than the first. Nine Ladies Dying is a novella, so the story was much shorter. The story in Next Day Gone spans almost twenty years. I got a chance to write a lot of these characters when they were young, and then again as adults. That was very interesting to show that progression, and they really carried the story for me. I’m so glad I was able to increase the suspense. It’s hard to see things from a reader’s perspective while writing sometimes, so I’m very happy to hear that.
As a Bestselling author, what does literary success look like to you? And what can we, your readers, expect next?
Nine Ladies Dying was my first bestseller. That was extremely exciting for me, and I really hope I can do that again. I’ve been writing for some time. I didn’t really know much about this business when I started, but over the years, I’ve learned a lot, met some really amazing authors and have forged some incredibly special friendships. I’m so grateful for my readers who aren’t shy about reaching out to me, and I’ve got so many ideas for upcoming books. As long as I’m writing and people are enjoying my books, I feel like that in itself is success. I think my literary journey has only just begun, and I’m ready for anything. I’ve got a lot of projects in the works right now. I took part in a romance anthology called Grey’s Harbor which releases on January 28th. I’m working on a follow up novel based on my characters from that anthology called Harbor Song, and I will also be releasing another thriller later in the year called The Friendship Pact.
Author J.C. Wing keeps the pages turning and the reader guessing in this exciting YA murder mystery/thriller. The characters are believable, their emotions authentic, and the plot of the story––mysterious without being gory. Next Day Gone is an enjoyable whodunnit that will appeal to both youth and adult mystery/thriller lovers alike.
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