One of the most appealing aspects of the thriller genre is its sheer breadth. Thrillers can be modern or historical, grounded in gritty realism or cloaked in supernatural fantasy, or any range of flavor in between. For thriller lovers who at least occasionally like their thrills served with a western flare, The Big Thrill recently caught up with Linell Jeppsen, previously the author of several works of science fiction, paranormal romance, and fantasy, to talk about her latest novel, LUCKY CHANCE, and how it fits into her more recent fictional universe of western action-thrillers.
Thank you for taking the time to join us at The Big Thrill and congratulations on your newest novel! While your latest books are action-adventure thrillers, they’re also very much westerns in the classic sense. What made you pick that type of genre and setting for your stories after having been writing in the fantasy and science fiction realm?
I really don’t know-—except for the fact that the first of the Deadman series percolated in my head for many years. It took about three paragraphs to realize that writing historical fiction was a whole different kettle of fish from my usual fantasy and science fiction! The first book starts in 1864… I mentioned “barbed wire” and thought, “Wait! Was barbed wire even invented then?”
Since then, I have gone on to write many more books in the series, I am far more comfortable with the research aspects of historical writing-—although it can still be a pain.
Tell us about LUCKY CHANCE, your most recent release. What do you think readers of The Big Thrill would find most intriguing about the book and its characters?
LUCKY CHANCE is meant to serve as a bridge between the Deadman and the Chance series. Many of the characters are the same—only seven years have passed and the age and circumstances of the characters have evolved.
LUCKY CHANCE is about boxing during the turn of the century. Chance Wilcox was a heavy weight boxing champion in the Army, so he is uniquely qualified to determine whether or not the culprits in this tale are guilty of “loading” their gloves with plaster of Paris. This was a fun little story but again… called for a TON of research.
Do you find many parallels between the problems and challenges people faced in the latter half of the 1800s with those people face today?
Absolutely! I believe we are fundamentally the same now as our ancestors were then… although, maybe softer and spoiled by modern devices many of us take for granted. Indeed, if it were not for the “grit” our fore-fathers showed, we wouldn’t be here at all!
There were many great, solid citizens, but there were outlaws, too. Serial killers, thieves, rapists, you name it. The problem, back then, was that they had autonomy. Before the telegraph and telephone, many outlaws could do their dirty deeds and just fade away—despite the efforts of the lawmen who tried to chase them down.
Violence was common-place in the Old West, but many people often forget that unlike typical portrayals, the communities that people settled were far from lawless and tended to be scrupulously law-abiding. To what extent does this tension between the proximity of the wilderness, and anarchy of the frontier on the one hand, and the strict enforcement of laws on the other, shape your characters and plots?
Agreed. Most communities really tried to keep their citizens safe and they pooled their resources to bring in the law. Actually, most criminals-—being opportunistic-—avoided the law as much as possible (until automobiles showed up, making a quick crime AND a fast get-away a possibility.) My main character, Matthew Wilcox, is the law. First a sheriff, then a U.S. marshal, and finally, a private detective. Most of the time he finds himself on the open road, chasing down the bad guys. (Scootin’ the snake out of its hole…)
How much period research do you usually do for your books? And do you ever find yourself realizing your prior perception of some aspect of the period was way off the mark after you’ve dug into it?
I think that I spend about twenty hours, per book, on pure research. The book I’m working on right now needs a lot of research done on the Freemasons, the gold and silver mines of North Idaho and union workers. Sigh…
What can readers expect in the future? Is there a follow-up to LUCKY CHANCE in the works?
The book I’m working on now is called, Second Chance. I’m about halfway finished—it should be ready to publish sometime this summer.
Matthew Wilcox and his son, Chance, have started up the Wilcox and Son Private Detective Agency. They are investigating a series of claim-jumps and murders around the Wallace, Idaho area mines. They are making good progress, until a shadowy entity known as The Trinity turns its attentions towards them!
Linell Jeppsen is a writer of science fiction and fantasy. Her vampire novel, Detour to Dusk, has received over 44- four and five star reviews. Her novel Story Time, with over 130- 4 and 5 star reviews, is a science fiction, post-apocalyptic novel, and has been touted by the Paranormal Romance Guild, Sandy’s Blog Spot, Coffeetime Romance, Bitten by Books and 64 top reviewers as a five star read, filled with terror, love, loss, and the indomitable beauty and strength of the human spirit. Story Time was also nominated as the best new read of 2011 by the PRG! Her dark fantasy novel, Onio (a story about a half-human Sasquatch who falls in love with a human girl), was released in December 2012 and won 3rd place as the best fantasy romance of 2012 by the PRG reviewers guild.
To learn more about Linell, please visit her website.