Monday, September 17, 2012

Series Showcase: Ann Mullen: Jesse Watson Mystery

About the Author
The best thing about writing is that you can let your imagination run wild, and I do.—Ann Mullen, Author

People often ask me, is your character, Jesse Watson based on your personality? I reply that, yes, in some ways, but not in all. Aren't many writers similar to their protagonist? I'd like to think that I'm as level-headed and open-minded as she is. I think it's safe to say, I'm the lively, out-spoken spirit of Jesse.
Ann Mullen
I was born in Wilson, North Carolina, and was only four years old when my parents packed up the family and moved to Newport News, Virginia. My father passed away many years ago, but my mother is alive and well. The mother in my books, Minnie, is based on mine—and has the same name. She's a wonderful person who takes her religion seriously. I have one sister (very much like Claire in my book) and two brothers.

In 1968, I married for the first time and had a beautiful baby girl. Unfortunately, the marriage didn't last. Not to give up on the idea of finding true happiness, I took the plunge once again in 1977. This time I married my soul mate. He's my rock, my companion, my dearest whatever. My husband, Tom, is smart, opinionated and stubborn. Sometimes I just want to jerk a knot in his head, but, after thirty-four wonderful years, I don’t know what I'd do without him. We have a terrific, thirtysomething son, Tommy, who's as smart and handsome as his dad. Our daughter, Wendy, has one son, our first grandchild, Jake.

I received a degree in Machine Technology from Thomas Nelson Community College so long ago that I can't remember the date without looking it up. I worked at the Engineering Center/Phillip Morris, USA, for seventeen years in my field while living a typical suburban lifestyle.

In 1999, we made the big move. My husband and I sold our house and left the suburbs behind. We settled in a quiet, sleepy little town in the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounded by neighborly people and breathtaking scenery. After a couple of years of mountain bliss, I gathered up my courage and starting writing my first novel. Energetic, sensitive Jesse, her family, friends, neighbors, and lovers sprang to life. To get my novel out there, I started my own publishing company that same year—Afton Ridge Publishing—and to date, I have seven books with book #1 in its third printing, book #2 and #3 in its second.

In 2006, I was chosen as Favorite Virginia Author in a reader poll sponsored by Cooperative Living Magazine. This has been the highlight of my career as a writer—so far. Also uplifting, five of my books, A CRYING SHAME, MIDDLE RIVER MURDERS, GREENE COUNTY KILLER, DEATH ON THE BELLA CONSTANCE, and ALL ABOUT THE MONEY have been nominated for a Library of Virginia Literary Award.

All the books in my mystery series are set in beautiful Greene County, Virginia. To find out what's happening here in real life, visit For updates, additional information, or to post a comment, visit my blog:, or friend me on Facebook, tweet me on Twitter.

Q. What inspires your writing?

A. Living in the mountains. I know you’ve probably heard this before, but it’s the truth. If I had stayed in the city, I’m sure I never would have written a book, let alone more than one. Life is refreshing here. The air smells so good when the wind blows down the mountain and stirs up all the scents around me. There’s always something in the air—the smell of wild roses, pine trees, mountain laurel, jasmine, and my favorite—honeysuckle in spring. So, when I’m bored or need inspiration, I get in my car, put the top down, and cruise. That’s for the warm months. In the winter, all I have to do is look out my window at the snow. That always works for me. Another inspiration: people who smile.

Q. What is your favorite thing about being an author?

A. The satisfaction I get from knowing I can actually write something someone might want to read. So many people aspire to this, but very few ever realize their dream. Creating a story isn’t just putting words together. It’s hard work and takes up all of your time. Most people don’t have the time even if they have the imagination to do it. When I retired and moved to the mountains, my imagination found me. Was that luck? I think so.

Q. What is the toughest part of being an author?

A. Trying to live up to the expectations of my readers.

Q. If you could not be author, what would you do/be?

A. I’d be me. That’s who I’ve been for sixty-two years, and I’ve been happy with my life the majority of the time (there’s always those times when drama stops by for a visit). I’m retired. I’ve had a career, spent my time in the work force, and have no desire to go back. If I decided to stop writing, I’d just be retired, living in the best place in the world.

Q. What would the story of your life be entitled?

A. The Unplanned Benefit of Murder

Q. What is your favorite book of all time?

A. That’s so hard to say. I’ve read many good books, but I really became an avid reader after I read All That Remains by Patricia Cornwell. I was enthralled with the storyline about a young couple who went missing at the New Kent rest area on I-64. This (fiction) book was based on a true story, and the area where it took place was close to my home town. Familiarity grabbed me, and curiosity held onto me. Now, I have too many favorite books to only choose one, but I will give Cornwell the credit for pulling me into the world of books.

Q. Which character from ANY book are you most like?

A. I think authors create characters from bits and pieces of others, and I have yet to find one who is like me.

Q. What character from all of your book are you most like?

A. My main character, Jesse Watson, of course. Don’t we all put a piece of ourselves in our protagonist? I know I did. However, Jesse does things I would never do. I’m smiling.

Q. What is your favorite season?

A. Winter—without a doubt. I used to be a sun worshiper, but that all changed with age and hot flashes.

Q. What inspired your book cover(s)? Or what is your favorite book cover and why?

A. I don’t know what sparks my ideas for my book jackets, but sometime during the writing process, up pops the image in my head. I can see it plain as day, and that’s what I go with. My favorite jacket cover is the one on book #5, Greene County Killer. It was the first time I had the courage to put a full-length photo of myself on the back.

Q. Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.

A. During an interview—I was at a restaurant talking with my reporter/journalist friend and I told her I had killed off someone, but was now having my doubts about what I had done. I can get a little loud when I get excited, so it didn’t take long for others close by to take notice. They started staring at me as if I were indeed a killer. Alex and I laughed all the way to the car.

Q. Are you working on something new?

A. Yes. The Prey Bites Back, book eight in the series. It’s a little slow going because life seems to get in the way.

Q. Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?

A. You can only be a success in your heart when you’re doing something you love. Keep on writing, reading, or singing in the shower—whatever makes you happy!

Book Descriptions
What You See—Book #1 in the series, young Helen Carrolton leaves home alone to visit a friend in the majestic mountains of Charlottesville, Virginia. She never makes it there.

What You SeeThat's where it all begins for Jesse Watson. At thirty-one, suffering from suburban burnout, an unfulfilling job and a nonexistent love-life, she heads for those same peaceful, quiet mountains to find a new life. Her intentions are to settle down and simplify.

All that changes the day she goes to work for private investigator, Billy Blackhawk, a Cherokee Indian who's hired to find Helen Carrolton. Jesse's dreams of a quiet country life surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery is quickly shattered as she becomes embroiled in danger, murder and mayhem facing the wrath of a disturbed family.

Soon it becomes a race for time, a race for her life and an astonishing destiny Jesse could never have anticipated, even in her wildest dreams!
South River Incident—Book #2 in the series, Jesse's destiny leads to increasing turmoil when her beloved pets drag up a severed hand and deposit it on the front porch of her mother's house. A search turns up the battered body of a woman—and she's wearing Jesse's watch.

South River IncidentWith the Greene County Sheriff suspicious of Jesse, she and Billy Blackhawk set out to prove her innocence and find the real killer. They uncover a trail of police corruption and criminal greed carrying dire consequences. Jesse has no choice but to kill or be killed.

Jesse confronts her worst nightmares and greatest pleasures in a strange date with fate, provoked by a killer demanding revenge.
A Crying Shame—Book #3 in the series, Greene County sleuth, Jesse Watson, returns from a trip only to discover that her sister's children have been kidnapped!

A Crying ShameJesse enlists the help of her P.I. boss, Billy Blackhawk, and his three brothers. A rescue mission is carried out, but not without messy complications. Blows are exchanged. Blood is spilled. At the end of a trail of blood, the kidnapper turns up missing.

Is he dead? Once again Jesse's embroiled in a heated manhunt involving layers of conflicting evidence, possible murder and one irate Greene County Sheriff.
Middle River Murders—Book #4 in the series. Who's killing off members of an elite, yet dysfunctional social club in Stanardsville? That's what Jesse has to find out before another member meets an untimely death.

Middle River MurdersWhat started out as a prank lands Daisy Clark in hot water when she becomes the suspect in the death of a club member. Eyebrows are raised when others begin dying off, and the finger points to her. Is she the real culprit?

Bodies start piling up and their own lives are put in jeopardy as Billy, Jesse and Minnie are caught in a race against time. Their search for a relentless serial killer can lead to only one conclusion—someone is going to die!
Greene County Killer—Book #5 in the series. Cheating, lying, and a terrible mistake, set off a chain of events leading to arson and murder as a cold-blooded killer lurks in the shadows, waiting for an opportunity to kill again.

Greene County KillerArson guts the home of a family member, and a search for the culprit leads to a late night encounter in a hospital parking garage, drawing Jesse deeper into a mystery as filled with surprises and hairpin turns as a Blue Ridge Mountain road.

Nothing can prepare her for the outcome as she journeys into the realm of a killer’s world—a killer who is on the loose and living in Greene County.
Death on the Bella Constance—Book #6 in the series. Danger lurks on the cruise ship Bella Constance as a killer waits for an opportunity to make this voyage the last for its owner—Loukas Constance.

Death on the Bella ConstanceDetermined to take a break from their hectic and dangerous jobs, Jesse and her P.I. partner Billy Blackhawk book a weeklong cruise to Bermuda. But once onboard the ship, their well-deserved vacation turns into another dangerous and deadly case when they are hired to find a killer.

A threat to kill Loukas had been made, and the race is on to stop the perpetrator before the mission is accomplished—sending Jesse and Billy into the depths of a nightmare that doesn't end until someone dies on this tale of terror on the high seas.
All About the Money—Book #7 in the series. Jesse is asked to investigate when Flo Garner, a local Greene County bookkeeper, discovers a hotel receipt implicating her client in the murder of his wealthy business partner.

All About the MoneyUntil now, Donald Rhodes has eluded prosecution in the death of Hank Sharp, but that all changes when Jesse Watson and her P.I. partner Billy Blackhawk take on the case, and go in pursuit of the truth. Meanwhile, Savannah Kelley, a close friend and well-known author, has a dead body in her garage. In a panic, she calls Jesse for help with her problem… instead of calling the police. But there’s no way around it—the police have to be told. All Savannah can do is stand by and watch her career circle the drain as the evidence mounts and her lies come back to haunt her. She killed someone, but was it self-defense or murder? That’s what Jesse intends to find out.

Lives are turned upside down, and tensions build to an explosive state as the final battle is played out like a scene in an old movie. Nobody walks away unscathed. Death is the winner—and no one is safe in this tale of lies, greed, and betrayal.

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