Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Interview and Book Giveaway with Janet Sketchley

by Jeff Reynolds 


 Last year, I had the privilege of interviewing Janet Sketchley about her Redemption's Edge series' debut, Heaven's Prey. Her follow-up, Secrets and Lies, is now off the presses. At the end of the interview, you can have an opportunity to win a print copy of this book if you live in the U.S. or Canada, or an e-book other-wise. Here's her bio:

Janet Sketchley is the author of Heaven's Prey and Secrets and Lies, two novels of suspense and redemption. She also blogs about faith and books. Janet loves adventure stories, worship music, tea and Formula 1 racing. Like Carol in Secrets and Lies, she loves music and tea. Unlike Carol, Janet isn't related to a dangerous offender, has a happy home life, and has never been threatened by a drug lord. May those tidbits continue to hold true!

Jeff Reynolds: Welcome back to Sleuths and Suspects. I'll get to your writing in a minute, but anything new going on with you outside of the literary world? Are you prepared for a nice balmy Canadian winter like last year's?

Janet Sketchley:
I seem to recall shivering last winter, Jeff! After what the citizens of Buffalo endured in November, whatever we get, I'd better not complain. New outside the literary world: this summer, my husband and I celebrated our 30th anniversary with a European river cruise. Definitely the trip of a lifetime, although we catch ourselves scheming about doing it again someday.

JR:  Congratulations on your anniversary, newlywed! (My wife and I celebrated our 31st this past July.) On to inside the literary world: You've just released Secrets and Lies, the second book of the Redemption's Edge series. Sounds like it could be inspired by Washington (or, since you're Canadian, Ottawa). Would you like to tell us about the novel? And let me be psychic and predict that you'll give the previous question an affirmative answer.

 And this is why I enjoy your interviews – you make me smile as well as making me think. I like to write stories with happy (or at least hopeful) endings, and I'm not sure I could pull that off in a political novel. Here's a bit about my version of Secrets and Lies:

A single mother must protect her teenage son—from organized crime and from himself.

Carol Daniels thinks she out-ran her enemies, until a detective arrives at her door with a warning from her convict brother. Minor incidents take on a sinister meaning. An anonymous phone call warns her not to hide again.

Now she must cooperate with a drug lord while the police work to trap him. Carol has always handled crisis alone, but this one might break her. Late-night deejay Joey Hill offers friendship and moral support. Can she trust him? One thing's certain. She can't risk prayer.

JR:  There are great suspense stories I enjoy reading, and there are great suspense stories that make me miserable, being a nervous wreck worrying about the characters as I keep turning pages. Your first installment, Heaven's Prey, was that kind of story. Is the sequel like that as well, or is it a different type of story?
JS:  This one's a much easier read. For one thing, it's a romantic suspense instead of suspense on its own, but the biggest difference is that in this story we're not inside the head of a serial killer.

JR:  I heard once that a person who puts soggy Grape Nuts in a sock, allows it to harden, and uses it as a weapon is a cereal killer, but let's get back to reality. There's a difference between the two stories that has nothing to do with writing. The publisher for Heaven's Prey closed its fiction line. How did you approach getting the sequel out?

  Because I was blessed to know other indie writers who could answer my questions, I decided to take the independent publishing route. Working with the same editor and cover artist from Heaven's Prey helped me match the quality, and I practiced for releasing book two by reacquiring the rights to book one and republishing it myself over the summer. Releasing Secrets and Lies this November went surprisingly smoothly.

JR: Helpful advice. I had a publisher I wanted to target my novel for, and that publisher also closed their fiction line. With that in mind, I'll ask the same question two different ways:

  1. What do you think is the future for Christian fiction, or is there much of one?
  2. What advice would you give to a young aspiring Christian novelist?

  I think there's a great future for Christian fiction, and the genre is widening to include something for nearly everyone who enjoys a clean read from a Christian perspective. People who haven't darkened a Christian bookstore's doorway for years would be pleasantly surprised. I think we'll see more independent publishing, because it looks like the traditional publishers are dealing with the changing dynamics by concentrating on trusted names and topics. Unknowns, especially with stories that break new ground, may have to publish independently (but it doesn't hurt to try to land an agent or a publishing contract with a reputable house).

In some ways the advice is the same as ever: write a quality novel that people will want to read; establish a network so readers can hear about the novel; make contacts within the industry. But I'd add this: consider writing your first three novels and polishing them well, before seeking publication. If they're a series, you may want to adjust the beginning once you reach the end. And when it's publishing time, editing and promoting book one won't leave much time for writing book two. If you choose self-publishing, don't do it until you can invest in quality editing, formatting and cover design. Many people can do some of this themselves, but we always need fresh eyes on our writing.

JR: How's your blog going? If you had a top ten list of books you've read this year, what would be on it? (BTW, I'll be posting my list on this blog in a couple of days.)

I look forward to your list, Jeff. Off the top of my head and in no particular order, these books stood out to me this year: 

  • Words of Radiance, Brandon Sanderson 
  • Blind Trust, Sandra Orchard 
  • Fatal Exchange, Lisa Harris
  • Ithaca, Susan Fish
  • Consider the Sunflowers, Elma Schemenauer
  • Soulminder, Timothy Zahn
  • When God Interrupts, M. Craig Barnes
  • The Patmos Deception, Davis Bunn
  • Veiled at Midnight, Christine Lindsay
  • Miranda Warning, Heather Day Gilbert
My blog's still active, with reviews on Mondays, devotionals on Wednesdays, and a variety of posts on Fridays.

JR: What's next on the horizon? I noticed that there's a part 3 to Redemption's Edge. Do you have any other plans after this?

  I'm discovering book three now, and this is my favourite part of the process. After that, the ideas are pretty vague, although there may be something set in a seaside inn, with an author as a guest. I do want to branch into science fiction, but I'd like to write a few more suspense novels first.

JR: Thank you for your time, Janet. Can you remind us how we can keep up with your latest goings on?

 I'm most active on my blog, at, and I invite Christian suspense fans to sign up for my monthly newsletter: Newsletter subscribers often hear things first. Also:
Secrets and Lies page:
Sample Chapter: 

Amazon Author Central:

Jeff Reynolds to reader: As promised, we'll be giving away a copy of Secrets and Lies. Three steps:

  1. Leave a comment. 
  2. Include info on how to contact you should you win, like e-mail. 
  3. A question for you to answer: If you were running from bad guys, what would be the place you hide in and what occupation would you take up? If you want, you could also let me know if you'd change your hair color (I've thought about making mine indigo).


  1. Thanks for such a fun interview, Jeff, and what a great question for a suspense blog: where would we hide?

  2. The first question is a hard one to answer but the second one is not. As a baby my hair was the color of butter, as I got older it was brown, now it is brown sprinkled with grey. Would I change my hair color? Never!
    Thanks for entering me in your giveaway.
    Janet E.

  3. My hair has gone through those same stages too, Janet, and I wouldn't trade it either. I'd kind of like a temporary purple streak, though. One of these days... In the story, Carol does the died hair and fake glasses approach to keep from being recognized in her new city.

    1. Janet, did you realize a series of Nancy Mehl's mysteries were told first person by the main character who had a streak of purple in her hair?

    2. I did not know that, Jeff! I would be the "inept amateur sleuth" in a case like that, not the "armchair detective" or "retired professional" -- the crooks would likely get away :)

  4. To answer my own questions, I'd probably move to Texas, and take a clerical job like the one I have, except it would be in a different type of business. And I've never been a Joker fan, so no green hair. (I'm more of the Riddler type, anyway.)

    1. My theory is that nobody looks at support workers, so it's a great way to hide in plain sight. But the Joker can't hide from anyone for long -- he's mentally incapable of it :)