The lovely and talented D.S. Nelson, and her sleuth Blake Heatherington have invited me to be a part of the ‘Meet the Main Character’ Blog Tour, and my own sleuth Joel Williams and I couldn’t be more excited and honoured.
Blake Heatherington is a retired milliner who lives in the village of Tuesbury. He’s got a real eye for his clients’ personalities and characters, which is why he was successful at creating just the right hats for them. He still loves creating hats, but he keeps getting drawn into mysteries… Do go visit D.S. Nelson’s terrific blog and find out more about her, about Blake Heatherington, and about the writing process.
Now, since it’s really Joel Williams who’s being interviewed here, I’m going to go get some errands done and let him answer these questions:
What is your name? Are you a fictional or historical character?
I’m Joel Williams. You won’t find my name in any history books or journal articles, so I guess that makes me fictional. But if you ask Margot, I’m very real.
When and where is your story set?
I live and work in the Pennsylvania (USA) college town of Tilton. I’m a professor of criminal justice at Tilton University, where I’ve been teaching for the last eight years.
What should we know about you?
To be honest, I’m a rather private person, but here’s a little about me. I come from a blue-collar, working class family. While I was in high school I decided I wanted to be a cop. The TV cop shows made it look like an interesting – OK, let’s be honest, cool – career, and at the time, I didn’t see myself as the ‘university type.’ Ironic, isn’t it? Besides, I really liked the idea of solving cases. I wouldn’t call myself a serious crime novel fan, but I did like reading mysteries.
I trained as a police officer and had a solid eighteen years on the force – made detective after five years. That’s how I met my wife, Laura, actually. She’s an Assistant District Attorney. She was in law school doing an internship when we met. I’d been working a murder case, and she was assigned to collect the facts for the DA’s office. We got married three years later.
Eighteen years is a long time to be a cop, and I started to feel myself burning out a little. It was definitely time for a change. I’d gone to school at night anyway to get my undergraduate degree, and I decided I liked the college setting. Then after I got my degree, I was invited to do a couple of presentations for undergraduate criminal justice students and that was all it took. It wasn’t easy, but I went to school full-time, got my Ph.D. and now I’m the ‘professor type’ I hadn’t imagined I would be. And I love it.
What is the main conflict? What messes up your life?
They say, ‘Once a cop, always a cop,’ and I guess that’s true. Murder may be glorified on TV and in films, but in real life, it’s ugly and it scars everyone who’s left behind. I hate to see that happen, and when it does, I can’t resist trying to get some answers for the people who have to live with the aftermath. And I can’t help it – I’m curious. Even my wife will tell you that I can’t leave things alone.
Oh, and anyone who tells you that being a professor is easy has never tried it. There are always student issues, campus politics, research work, and meetings. And paperwork. But we won’t talk about the paperwork; I think it’s the thing I like least about my job.
What is your personal goal?
My main area of interest is the juvenile justice system in the US. I’ve done some research on it – even had a book accepted for publication. We need to do something to make the system work better, so that young people who make stupid mistakes don’t get thrown away by the system. Young offenders are not the same as adults. At the same time, though, there are some truly dangerous kids out there who really are a threat. We need to face that problem too. It’s a difficult balance, and presents some hard challenges. I’d love to be a part of solving this problem and I try to, when I’m not teaching, at meetings, or solving other cases…
Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
Well, Margot’s waiting for news about one of my stories. We won’t know all the details until we learn whether it will be published. But I can tell you that she and I have decided to call it Dying to See You, at least for now. It’s about the time I worked with two colleagues from two other schools on a research project. We were studying Second Chance, a Philadelphia alternative school program for students who’d gotten in trouble. We were doing some background reading when we found out about a student there who’d been killed two years earlier. The more we looked into that death, the more trouble we found.
When can we expect the book to be published?
That I can’t say yet, for a number of reasons. But Margot has a big mouth. I’m sure she’ll tell you as soon as we find out.
While you’re waiting, though, you can catch up on my other stories Publish or Perish and B-Very Flat.
Oh – sorry. Time to get ready for my department meeting. It’s been a pleasure. Here’s Margot to say a few final things.
Thanks, Joel. And thanks, D.S. for inviting us to be a part of this meme. Now it’s my turn to pass the baton to other writers and ask them to introduce us to their main characters. Here are a few that you may find interesting:
Jill Edmondson’s Sasha Jackson
K.B. Owen’s Concordia Wells
Angela Savage’s Jayne Keeney
So I’m inviting these authors to share more about them. At the least, you’ll want to pay those authors’ blogs a visit!
*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Billy Joel’s Shameless.