It’s the weekend!! Yay, unless you work during the weekend still of course. As a stay at home mom, I always work…there are no days off. So, in that regard, I understand the struggle. Speaking of kids, my older son and I are making progress in our first book we will review on this blog! You should now be able to see the children’s book review tab when hovering over the review button. That is where you will find all of our mother and son reviews. We are both really excited about these. He will talk about his thoughts from a child perspective and then I will discuss mine from a mother’s. Well…on to today’s post before I get carried away ranting.
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Today, I am talking Jodie Lynn Zdrok, the author of Spectacle! I know I am excited to get to the interview but I want to talk a little about Jodie first.
Jodie Lynn Zdrok holds two MAs in European History and an MBA. In addition to being an author, she’s a marketing professional, a freelancer, and an unapologetic Boston sports fan. She enjoys traveling, being a foodie, doing sprint triathlons, and enabling cats. Spectacle is her debut.
Remember to click on the image to read more about each book on Amazon.
Thank you so much for being here today! I know you have your debut novel coming out and let’s be honest that’s really exciting. I know many readers are looking forward to this interview so let’s get it started.
Now, the summary for Spectacle has me dying to read it. I always loved a good murder mystery growing up. When did you first come up with the idea for Spectacle? Tell us a little about how the story idea formed.
When I was in graduate school studying European history, I was intrigued by the cultural details of late 19th– century France and the mood it evoked, similar to Victorian London. The Paris morgue stood out—it was a tourist attraction in its own right—as an unusual phenomenon because people went simply out of curiosity, not simply to identify bodies. I’ve long been intrigued by the Jack the Ripper case (more on that below), and I wondered what it would be like if serial murders like that took place in Paris and the bodies ended up on display. Lastly, there’s a fantasy component, because I wanted to include magic with a 19th-century flavor. I can’t say too much more about that without spoilers. 😊
My first Bachelor’s degree was in Criminal Justice with one of the minors being forensic science. The Jack the Ripper case is one of my favorites to research! There are so many theories but ultimately we will never know for sure. Too much of the evidence was handled improperly or ‘lost’ as the years passed. I think your idea for a book is very interesting and I can not wait to read it.
Writing a novel in and of itself is difficult but there is always one part that proves more challenging than others. What was the most difficult part of writing this novel? The most fun part?
Spectacle evolved quite a bit from first tentative 30 pages to the final version, and because it’s largely a plot-driven story, many of those changes had significant ripple effects. I repurposed scenes and characters and several subplots entered in the later stages, and pulling it all together was complicated (and ultimately, rewarding—I liked the challenge). Another challenging aspect is research and checking etymology, if only because they add a lot of time to the writing process.
I enjoy writing dialogue and often do that first when sketching out a dialogue-heavy scene. The banter between Nathalie and her best friend, Simone, was generally the most fun to write.
That makes sense, I love seeing a story come together. I find when writing my story, the dialogue is also the easiest for me to write in my WIP.
With the excitement surrounding your novel, I am sure your fans want to know… what are you working on next? Can you tell us anything about your next WIP?
The draft of Spectacle’s sequel is with my editor at the moment. It takes place two years later during the world’s fair, the Exposition Universelle. I don’t want to give away much yet but there are plenty of murders (decapitations!) and several new characters. The sequel also explores the aftermath of some of the events in Spectacle and broadens the magical aspect.
You had me at murder, haha. I love the gore so decapitations are fine with me. I really hope that I am able to get my hands on Spectacle and read it so that I can wait in agony for the next one.
Support is vital to a successful career…well successful anything really. We love hearing that people believe in us and what we are doing as authors. Who have been some of the most influential people in your life during your writing and how have they shown their support?
My acknowledgments in Spectacle are very lengthy—I’m fortunate to have so many people who have supported me. My parents have been in my corner and my biggest cheerleaders my entire life, and they couldn’t be happier about my debut. My boyfriend is the first to know everything: new ideas, good news, celebrations, disappointments. He’s been there for me for all of those things and holds down the fort when I’m on deadline. My brothers are as proud as can be, and my oldest brother loves to brainstorm with me. My writing friends, both my critique partners and my fellow #novel19s, are invaluable. My cats along the way have also been good for editorial supervision over the keyboard, cuddling at my side, or providing a welcome distraction.
My cat loves to sit on my lap while I type as well. I love that you have such a big support system. That is fantastic! Looks like you need to have a family only book debut party.
We are all patiently awaiting Spectacle so that we might dive into the gripping story. While we wait, is there anything you can tell us about it? Maybe something that is similar to a behind–the-scenes peek? Any exclusive juicy bits of information?
I do have a fun behind-the-scenes tidbit! I went to the Normandy region of France while revising the novel, and Bayeux was our home base for a few days. That served as the basis for a subplot in the book—readers will know exactly which one—and was something I’d never have devised if I hadn’t taken that trip.
That is amazing! I’ve heard that many authors travel to help with inspiration. I would love to do that someday.
Some people enjoy visiting inspiring locations while they write, especially if it is the setting for their story. Since Spectacle takes place in Paris… Have you ever been there? Did you enjoy it? What was your favorite part? If you have not gone, what would be the first thing you wanted to see when you did arrive there?
I’ve been to Paris twice, once before Spectacle and once while working on it (the same trip I referenced in the previous answer). Those trips were 11 years apart, but what impressed me was just how much I remembered from my first trip—it was all so clear in my memory. Not just because I’d been writing about it, but also because it stayed with me more than many European cities I’ve visited. There’s so much to see and do, and in two trips, I still haven’t gotten to everything. The Louvre is always a highlight, as is the top of the Eiffel Tower at night. And I’ve only experienced one Parisian thunderstorm while looking out a hotel window on the Seine across from Notre-Dame, but it was incredible.
Isn’t it incredible how our memories can be so vivid with some places and foggy with others? It really shows what type of impact each place had on us.
I imagine that many long hours of researching went into your book. What is your favorite murder mystery to research? I love researching Jack the Ripper and his spree. It is fascinating how inadequate the investigation and evidence collection/maintenance was during those times.
The Jack the Ripper case has always captivated me. I purposely set Spectacle (1887) before Jack the Ripper (1888) precisely because I didn’t want, in the fictional world I created, Paris’ killer to be compared to the Ripper. The idea of the murderer communicating with the police through letters and just how little police had to go on with regard to evidence (not to mention, no one seeing anything)—the Ripper case influenced those storytelling choices, for sure.
That was a great choice on your part. Oh…now I really must get my hands on this, and so must all of you!
I’ve always heard of murder mystery dinner but have yet to attend one. I imagine it would be amazing and for sure a night to remember. If you could host a murder mystery dinner, what would it be like? Would it be based around your book? Give us a short playthrough of what might happen.
If I could do anything I wanted and had an unlimited budget (and, of course, adventurous guests who would go along with all this), I would evoke the mood of Spectacle and aim to recreate that atmospheric, Gothic vibe. There would be lots of candles, spooky Classical music, Carnivale-style masks, delicious catered food and desserts (as much as I love to cook, I have this fancy party to thrown and I can’t do it all, am I right?), cryptic notes, and at least one silent mystery guest whose identity isn’t revealed until the end of the evening
That sounds inviting, count me in as an adventurous guest! I could only imagine how amazing that dinner would be, the guests would be talking about it for a very, very long time.
Inevitably, when speaking of other countries, especially one such as Paris, the topic of food is bound to come up in conversation. With the amazing pastries and entrees I’ve seen from Paris I am curious…what is your favorite French food? And no…French fries are really not French at all so they do not count.
There’s no way I can pick only one! Steak frites (I mean, I know you said no fries but…it’s so good!), coq au vin, sweet and savory crepes, chocolate mousse, pot au crème, pain au chocolat…stop me any time now…
I am glad you stopped, my mouth is watering just hearing about it. Paris sounds like an amazing place but when you put those food choices in with it…it sounds like a dream come true.
Everyone seems to have their own opinions on how to do things the ‘right way’ and those within the writing community are no different. What has been the one piece of advice that stuck with you the most during your writing and publishing journey?
I had a first book that I’d tried so hard to get published. I revised and queried it so many times over the course of several years, and despite a lot of requests, I never landed an agent with it. The late great Jack Scovil, who was an agent for more than 40 years, read it after a writer’s conference and gave me more feedback than most. The novel didn’t work out, but he said I “ought to keep writing.” That meant a lot from an experienced agent like that, a little extra he needn’t have added but I’m grateful he did. It has certainly stuck with me.
I love when someone takes that little bit of effort to give someone advice, especially if they are experienced within the field. Those little bits of encouragement always seem to stick with us.
Now after that fantastic interview, we have another surprise! A giveaway of a hardcopy of Spectacle!! I know it isn’t just me jumping with joy. Get those entries in book lovers!
Thank you again to Jodie for sparing her time and allowing me to ask her some questions! I know I am really looking forward to her novel. Let me know if you are too. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Again, If you are an author interested in being hosted on Saturday Spotlight use this form to contact me! I would love to help support you and your work.
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