The Friday Night Mystery Club - A book 30 years in the making - Joanna Campbell Slan

The Friday Night Mystery Club — A book 30 years in the making


I’m often asked, “How long does it take you to write a book?”

The answer is, “Depends on the book.”

The Friday Night Mystery Club took me thirty years. I don’t know why. I don’t have a good reason.

No, that’s not entirely true. As I recall, I submitted it to my (then) agent, and she wasn’t impressed. I now know that agents aren’t always good judges of what will sell. Some, I assume, are. Especially if it means “will sell to a traditional publishing house.” But others aren’t. The world of indie publishing has proved that, time after time.

When I revisited The Friday Night Mystery Club, I’d expected to have to tear it apart. As it turned out, the book simply needed a good polish. As I read it, memories came flooding back. I set the book in Decatur, Illinois, a place where I lived briefly. Included is the milieu of the daily newspaper where I worked as an ad rep. As I re-read the book, I could see the newspaper bullpen, I could feel the rubber cement we used, I could hear the noises of the reporters as they gathered stories for publication, and I could sense the bustle that was so much a part of a news organization.

But The Friday Night Mystery Club is a stand-alone. At this point, I cannot imagine turning it into a series–although anything is possible! So the question was, what do I do with this beast?

And then along came Vella. This is Amazon’s attempt to get ahead of a revived trend, serializing books. Seems that most countries have a huge number of readers who only consume books on their smart phones. That means they’re perfectly positioned to read books that are broken into smaller chunks and delivered piece by piece. I’d heard that a big Chinese conglomerate was making moves to capture this serialized reading market. I guess Amazon heard the same rumor and decided to try again, since they’d done short reads before without much success.

What does that mean to you, dear reader? As soon as The Friday Night Mystery Club is available on Vella, we’ll let you know. We were told it would take 48 hours to process the book, but there’s always the chance Amazon might ask us to make a change and that might delay the release. The good news is…the whole book is written. Yup. Fini. And it only took me 30+ years!

Here’s a description of the story:

Decatur, Illinois/1986—A nasty divorce leaves Cragan Collins with a mountain of bills and a vindictive ex-husband. To survive financially, Cragan takes a job as a newspaper ad salesperson. Her timing couldn’t have been worse. The Gazette has the highest ad cost in the nation, and Decatur tops the charts in unemployment. Cragan has no choice but to succeed because she’s supporting her aging grandmother who has recently had a stroke.

A bright spot in her life is her friendship with business reporter, Robert Smithson. Robert encourages and mentors Cragan. And then one icy day in January, his lifeless body is discovered in an equipment box on the grounds of a city park.

Because Robert was a known homosexual, there’s little interest in catching his killer. The murder is dismissed as a gay-on-gay crime. Cragan doesn’t believe that’s what happened because she knows Robert—and he was in a committed relationship.

Determined to find justice for her friend, Cragan puts her courage to the test. She turns to her four female housemates for help. The founding members of The Friday Night Mystery Club are used to dealing with sexism, racism, and stupid-ism. Working together, they follow clues and track down leads. As for Cragan, she’s willing to stick her nose in places that the police aren’t willing to go. Along the way, she makes enemies, powerful people who want her gone.

The stakes are high. Cragan’s quest to uncover the truth might land her on the obituary page.

 

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