Interview with mystery author Lynn Chandler Willis

Today’s special guest is mystery
author Lynn Chandler Willis. She’s chatting with us about her new novel Wink of an Eye and more.
Lynn Chandler Willis is the first woman to win the PWA Competition in over 10
years. She has worked in the corporate world, the television news business, and
the newspaper industry. She was born, raised, and continues to live in the
heart of North Carolina within walking distance of her children and their
spouses and her nine grandchildren. She shares her home, and heart, with Sam
the cocker spaniel. She lives in Randleman, North Carolina.
Lynn. Please tell us about your current release
of an Eye
is a
mystery set in the real town of Wink, Texas. The main character is a private
eye named Michael “Gypsy” Moran who has a bad habit of becoming involved in
situations that lead to trouble and usually threaten to cut his life a little
short. In Wink of an Eye, he’s on the run from a case gone bad in Vegas
and heads home to Wink. While staying with his sister, he reluctantly agrees to
look into the apparent suicide of the father of one of her former student’s. Of
course nothing’s ever simple with Gypsy so that investigation leads to a twisted,
expansive plot of kidnapping, human trafficking, murder and corruption. And an
old girlfriend, who may or may not be involved.
inspired you to write this book?
I’ve had the character of Gypsy in my
head for a long time. I had made several attempts throughout the years
to bring him to life in different stories—with different names—but nothing ever
clicked. The plot wasn’t right or there was no chemistry between the supporting
characters, something was just off with it as a whole. Then I saw the movie No
Country for Old Men
and I absolutely fell in love with the setting.
The dirt, the relentless heat, the unforgiving landscape…I knew that’s where
this character I’d carried for so many years, Gypsy, belonged. I took his
personality and the setting and kept working with it until I had a plot in
mind. So in this case, with Wink of an Eye, I built the plot around the
character rather than starting with the plot.
from Wink of an Eye:
twelve-year old Tatum McCallen finds his father, a deputy sheriff, hanging from
a tree in their west Texas backyard, he sets out to restore his dad’s honor and
prove he didn’t kill himself. He and his disabled grandfather hire reluctant
Private Investigator Gypsy Moran, who has his own set of problems. Like a
double-cross that sent him fleeing Vegas in the middle of the night.
Gypsy agrees
to help the kid and his grandfather, Burke, because he feels sorry for them.
Burke, a former deputy sheriff now confined to a wheelchair is all Tatum has left.
When Tatum shows Gypsy a private file his dad had been keeping, Gypsy knows the
kid’s father was on to something when he died. Eight missing girls, a cowardly
sheriff, and undocumented workers are all connected to the K-Bar Ranch.
Gypsy is
quite familiar with the K-Bar Ranch. Before running off to Vegas, he spent his
summers as a teenager working for ranch owner Carroll Kinley while romancing
Kinley’s beautiful daughter Claire. But Claire, now married to a state senator,
is managing the ranch now and is more involved with the case Tatum’s father was
secretly investigating than Gypsy wants to admit.
Aided by adolescent Tatum and reporter
Sophia Ortez, Gypsy begins pulling the pieces of the puzzle together, but it
could end up costing him his life. Or worse—Tatum’s life.
exciting story are you working on next?
I’m in the finishing stages of NoBody’s Baby, a mystery set in the
North Carolina mountains. It’s about what happens when a small town newspaper
owner and publisher finds a friend murdered and the conflict that arises with
the local sheriff when a newspaper publisher is actually part of the
did you first consider yourself a writer?
The day I heard my daughter tell a
friend that her mother was “a writer.” I could have received every award there
was to win, signed multi-book seven-figure deals and not felt as validated as I
did that day.
you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do
other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write full time but for the most
part it’s in the evening and on weekends. I’m the full time baby-sitter to
eight of my nine grandkids. Four are in elementary and middle school and four
are still in that really weird, and tiring, not quite preschool-not quite
toddler stage. Exhausting work! I carry my laptop with me wherever I go and
keep my WIP open at all times so I grab a sentence, or paragraph, when I can.
would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I devise a “playlist” of music I
associate with whatever piece I’m working on before the first word is ever put
to the page. Most of the time when I’m truly writing rather than grabbing a
sentence or two here or there, that playlist is playing on a loop. If the music
is right, it puts me there—in the zone—and I can visualize every scene I write.
a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
It may sound corny, but, really, a
writer. Oh, and then there was a time that I wanted to be the White House Press
additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope they enjoy Wink of an Eye
as much as I enjoyed writing it. Gypsy is such a fun character. He’s so
likeable. I hope readers think so, too.
Thanks, Lynn!!

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