Mystery Thriller Week: Q&A with author Elena Hartwell

Mystery Thriller Week is a celebration (of the aforementioned) that runs from February 12 – 22. If you’re keeping score, yes, that’s a bit longer than one calendar week. With so many genres-within-the-genre, authors, and readers, seven days just didn’t seem enough time. For more information about the event, pop over to

As an eager reader of thrillers and cozy mysteries, I’m happy to be participating. From now through February 23, I’ll be sharing Q&As with mystery and thriller authors every Monday and Wednesday.

Today’s guest is Elena Hartwell, author of One Dead, Two to Go, book one in the Eddie Shoes mystery.

About the book:

Private Investigator Edwina “Eddie Shoes” Schultz’s most recent job has her parked outside a seedy Bellingham hotel, photographing her quarry as he kisses his mistress goodbye. This is the last anyone will see of the woman… alive. Her body is later found dumped in an abandoned building. Eddie’s client, Kendra Hallings, disappears soon after. Eddie hates to be stiffed for her fee, but she has to wonder if Kendra could be in trouble too. Or is she the killer?

Eddie usually balks at matters requiring a gun, but before she knows it, she is knee-deep in dangerous company, spurred on by her card-counting adrenaline-junkie mother who has shown up on her doorstep fresh from the shenanigans that got her kicked out of Vegas. Chava is only sixteen years older than Eddie and sadly lacking in parenting skills. Her unique areas of expertise, however, prove to be helpful in ways Eddie can’t deny, making it hard to stop Chava from tagging along.

Also investigating the homicide is Detective Chance Parker, new to Bellingham’s Major Crimes unit but no stranger to Eddie. Their history as a couple back in Seattle is one more kink in a chain of complications, making Eddie’s case more frustrating and perilous with each tick of the clock.


What would you like readers to know about your book beyond what’s in the blurb?

One Dead, Two to Go is a murder mystery, but it’s also about relationships, especially between a mother and her adult daughter.

Do you start writing at the beginning of a story or to reach a future point you see in your imagination?

Both! I definitely start at the beginning with an idea of an opening scene, but I’ve also spent time thinking about where the story is going before I start writing. I don’t outline, so the first draft is all about discovery, but that’s usually knowing the beginning and the end and filling in the middle as I go.

What are your protagonist’s best and worst qualities?

She’s self-sufficient. That’s both her best and worst quality. She can take care of herself, but she has to learn to trust other people in her life.

What’s the most surprising or unexpected thing that happened to your characters as you were writing the story?

I didn’t know when I started how funny they would turn out to be. They make me laugh.

What’s the first book you can remember loving? What’s the last great book you read?

Probably Watership Down, followed closely by The Narnia Series. I really loved Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. I can’t say that often enough.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard or been given?

Write what you want to write, then go back and find facts to back it up. I do a lot of research, some before, some during. I like to know I’m in the ballpark of how something would work in the real world, then write my story, then go back and fact check for details.

What did you wish I’d asked, and why?

When does book two come out? Two Heads Are Deader Than One launches April 15, 2017. Because I’m terrible at the promotion side, and I’m always having to remember to do things like mention there’s a second book coming out.

Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

On the web: and

On Twitter: @Elena_Hartwell

Follow me: and

4 Replies to “Mystery Thriller Week: Q&A with author Elena Hartwell”

  1. I love Elena Hartwell, and I love Eddie Shoes! Great protag, and her mother is hilarious. Can’t wait for the second book. Go, Elena!!!

  2. This sounds like delightful book – with a delightful author! Thanks again for doing this series, I’m reading them in backwards order because I’ve got a lot of catching up to do on this, my favorite book blog, and I’ve just loved having an insight into so many different writers’ creative processes and more.

    1. I find authors’ processes fascinating too – glad to hear you’re enjoying it!
      And thank you! I appreciate the kind words. 🙂

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