Interview with mystery author Sharon Henegar

Mystery author Sharon
Henegar is my guest for this last post of 2016. We’re talking about her new
thriller, Sidestep.
Sharon Henegar started out
in the Midwest, and although she is not in the Witness Protection Program she
has lived in 27 houses in seven states. She now resides in a Midcentury Modern
house in Salem, Oregon with her storyteller husband, Steven; Zoë, the Springer
spaniel-mix dog, and Millie the cat. Together they conduct retreats for writers
and storytellers.
Henegar believes in home
cooking, the restorative powers of humor and dogs, in buying secondhand, that a
convertible should be driven with the top down, that life needs dessert, and
that M&Ms should be bought in bulk. She is currently working on the next
book in her Willow Falls mystery series.
Welcome, Sharon. Please tell us about your current
is about Beth, a woman with
secrets, who steps away from her life for just a few days before starting a new
job in a new part of the country. But when she tries to step back again she
finds that her life has been stolen. All of it. Home, job, name, money, all
gone. She has to get her life back. But how far can she go in dealing with
monsters without becoming a monster herself?
What inspired you to write this book?
The seed for Sidestep came from my fascination with
the fairy tale “Puss in Boots.” At the end of the story, the giant is tricked
out of his home and lands and then killed, seemingly just because he is a
giant. He never does anything bad in the story to deserve such treatment. I
started thinking about the unfairness of that, and identity theft, and what I
might do if someone stole everything from me.
In 2015 a writer friend
and I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo—aka National Novel Writing Month. The
combination of a definite goal (50,000 words in one month) and a little
friendly competition (how many words have you
done today??) was irresistible. When I sat down on November 1 to begin, I had
no plot or characters in mind, just a curiosity about what a woman might do if
someone took over her life. Soon Beth and her dog Clover erupted from beneath
the surface of my brain, and we were off. Twenty-four days later, the result
was Sidestep.
Excerpt from Sidestep:
I quietly
entered the room, any sound made by my footsteps covered by the noise our
prisoner made. The afternoon light shone now on the other side of the house,
and this dimly lit room felt sad and empty, the carpet a little damp, the short
draperies over the windows hanging a bit crooked. The figure tied to the chair
in the closet was the perfect decorative touch.
Fake Beth
shook her head, trying to dislodge the sweater, but to no avail. She yelled
again in a rusty voice, “Help! Help! Can anyone hear me? Help!”
I crept up
behind her and spun the chair one hundred eighty degrees so she was facing me.
She uttered a little yelp. After a moment I pulled the sweater off of her head.
She blinked, swallowed. Squinted at me.
the…Who are you? Let me loose, damn it!”
 I stared down at her. The wig that turned me
into Mary Claire had never felt tighter.
 “I don’t know who the hell you are, but you
can’t do this. Untie me at once.” She seemed to be aiming for a note of
authority, but it came out as petulance. I said nothing.
“Wait a
minute. I’ve seen you somewhere.” She stared at my face. Swallowed. “What the
hell is this? Who are you? What is
going on? Untie me, do you hear?”
 I kept looking at her. A feeling of power grew
in me with every heartbeat.
better untie me, you bitch. You’ll never get away with this.” No trace of her
assumed accent.
I remained
silent. She stared back. After a minute that felt like a week I saw a tremble
in her lower lip, but her voice maintained its sneer.
“Let. Me.
Go. Now, I tell you. You’re going to be sorry. I know I’ve seen you somewhere.
I will be able to tell the police who
you are.”
I let my
silence spin out a little longer. When I spoke in Mary Claire’s Boston voice, I
was surprised at how gently the words came out.
standing right in front of you, and you don’t even know who I am.”
That’s when
the first flicker of fear flitted across her eyes. I smiled at her.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve completed the fourth
book in my Willow Falls Mystery Series and am doing the final edit. The series
features Louisa McGuire, her dogs Emily Ann and Jack, antique-shop-owner cousin
Kay, and a host of denizens in their imaginary Midwestern town. If you like
your mysteries cozy with a sprinkling of humor and dogs, please check them out!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In the fourth grade my
best friend Nancy Jo Harding (how I wish I could find her again!) wrote and
illustrated books about horses. We were nine. At that age we thought we were horses, so perhaps you could say
we were writing autobiographies.
Do 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
I retired five years ago
from a 30+ year career as a librarian. One of the fabulous things about
retirement is that you do not have to do anything
full time! But I wrote my first three novels while still employed, and I did it
by getting up at 4 a.m. every day and forcing myself to get at least two
sentences down before going to work. It was rare to write only two sentences, but keeping the bar low got me out of bed and
in front of the computer.
Now, along with writing
novels, I revel in reading and watching movies, seeing friends, cooking, and
hanging out with husband and pets. I knit, and create upcycled clothing. I
regularly shop on driveways and write my long-running blog Queen of Fifty Cents. I’m
having an awfully good time!
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love semicolons…which
drives one of my editors crazy. A few chapters in she is reduced to writing
“grrrr” in the margins!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer. Or a horse.
Anything additional you want to share with the
Of course I would love for
everyone to fall in love with my books. But what really matters is reading
itself. Reading teaches us, transforms us, expands our lives exponentially.
Readers are the reason that writers take all of our experiences, our thoughts,
our dreams, and create new worlds that never existed before. So I would like to
thank all of you for being readers!
Saturday Books | Amazon
| My writing blog, Pensive
| My thrifting blog, Queen of
Fifty Cents

Thank you for helping me wrap up 2016. All the best
with your writing!

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