Interview With Author J.L. Delozier
I’m already counting down to Halloween, so that means my TBR is full of Gothic, spooky, and mystery. The Photo Thief checks all those boxes. I recently got to chat with author J.L. Delozier about her upcoming book, writing process, and more.
Can you tell us what The Photo Thief is about? Photos never lie. Detective Dan Brennan is grieving his daughter’s death when he’s assigned to investigate a socialite’s fatal fall down her Philadelphia mansion’s staircase. The victim’s daughter alleges her mother was murdered. Her evidence? The epileptic young woman claims she can talk to the dead via a vintage collection of crime-scene photographs displayed in the mansion’s third-floor music room. Her gift, if real, feeds into Brennan’s greatest desire—to speak to his little girl again. But belief comes at a price.
The odd, reclusive teen begs Brennan to reopen a quartet of cold cases based on new evidence from her alleged otherworldly connection. The investigation reveals corruption throughout the ranks, as well as a disturbing commonality between the five cases, old and new. Entangled in the wealthy family’s long history of madness and murder, Brennan faces a choice: label the socialite’s death an accident and save his career, or commit professional suicide for the chance to hear his daughter’s voice once again.
What inspired you to write this story? Years ago, while eating out with a friend, I overheard an NPR broadcast about real-life photo thieves, teens who, to keep from starving during The Great Depression, were hired by big-city newspapers to break into homes where there had been gruesome murders and steal family photos so the paper had pictures to run with their articles. It occurred to me these same boys would later go off to WWII. That level of psychological trauma deserved a story, but I didn’t want to write a historical, so I devised a way to set The Photo Thief in modern times using the titular character’s great-granddaughter Cassie as the protagonist.
What was your process for writing The Photo Thief ? Like always, I wrote the beginning few pages and the last few pages. Then I just had to fill in the murky middle. I’m a pantser through-and-through, although for this book I did do character sketches in order to get the timelines correct given there are four generations represented.
I read that you are a retired Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine. Has that experience influenced your writing? Absolutely. I love to work real (and often obscure) diagnoses into my stories even if they aren’t the actual focus of the novel. In The Photo Thief, Cassie has a seizure disorder. The reader has to decide if they believe this young girl can truly speak to the dead or if it’s her meds/epilepsy talking…or perhaps she’s insane.
The Photo Thief comes out next month! What was your path to publishing? I’ve published four prior books through small presses and had great experiences, but The Photo Thief, a Gothic murder-mystery with paranormal elements, didn’t fit their catalog. I entered #Pitmad, got a like from an editor at CamCat, and the rest is history. It helped that I have two friends who published with them. They told me all good things.
Any advice for aspiring authors? In medicine, we call ourselves “practitioners” because we never stop practicing. We can always learn something new or perfect our craft. The same can be said of writing. If you think you’ve got this writing-thing down pat, you don’t.
Where can folks get The Photo Thief ? Anywhere books are sold, from your favorite big-box (Amazon, Barnes & Noble) to your local indie (check bookshop.org)
Where’s the best place to follow you? Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and my website, jldelozier.com