I first met Jule Selbo at the Maine Crime Wave a few years ago. We both lived in Portland, were newish to Maine, and were writing mysteries. However, unlike me, Jule was from the west coast and had a long career as a movie and television writer and a teacher of screen writing. She’s been published in many forms, but her first mystery, 10 Days: A Dee Rommel Mystery, will be released on August 11th and is available for pre-order now.
Jule is giving a copy of 10 Days to one lucky commenter below.
Here’s the blurb.
Early summer, Portland, Maine… Eleven months after young policewoman Dee Rommel’s mysterious and life-altering on-the-job injury. Her medical leave is nearly up, and the Police Department and her ex-training officer, newly-single Detective Donato, expect her to reinstate. But her decision is postponed when she’s challenged to step in for her godfather – private investigator Gordy Greer – to investigate the disappearance of a brilliant high-tech heiress, Lucy Claren, who has announced hasty wedding plans that could derail her father’s empire. Life is further complicated when Dee’s good friend, Karla, is physically assaulted by a sadist that Dee had helped put behind bars. Newly released, he decides to turn his sights on justice-driven Dee, making it his personal mission to ensure her failure – and demise. Dee dangerously navigates through the two worlds of crime – determined to survive them both… in just ten days.
Take it away, Jule!
Dee Rommel, the protagonist of my debut crime/mystery novel, is a policewoman on medical leave from the Portland (Maine) Police Department. Her recent, devastating on-duty injury was life-changing and now she’s rebuilding her health and her psyche.
The challenge I gave myself was to compose a character, nearing thirty, who is absolutely intent on justice – but her self-image is in disarray. Crime and despicable deeds continue to flourish around her, I wanted to see if she’d be able to access her once-healthy self-confidence and deal with the realities of her below-the-knee amputation. I wanted to explore her physical tests, and bruised, raw emotional conflicts.
I’ve always been an avid reader of crime/mysteries – starting, in elementary school, with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and graduating to the more complex plots and characters constructed by the great writers of the genre. The balance of plot vs. character has always fascinated me and even in my other books (historical fiction and Women’s Lit), I was aware of wanting to keep the story engine cranking. However, I realized that when I finally became brave enough to embark on stories in my favorite genre, I had to ‘up’ my game. Yes, there are multiple types of crime/mystery tales. But I wanted mine to be a page-turner, for the detection to be story-forward, for good and bad elements and truths and lies to tumble into view at a good pace. That’s my favorite kind of crime/mystery – and it’s also the kind of narration that needs the greatest high- heat stoking of the story engine.
At the same time, I wanted to explore the complexities of Dee Rommel. Her long-term romantic partner has left her after her injury, the police department’s therapist hasn’t been able to break through her self-built walls, the natural chip-on-her-shoulder has gotten heavier, and her sarcastic side gives her the opportunity to dodge overtures of intimacy from friends and family.
This is the first book in a series and even I wonder what’s in store for Dee Rommel. How will she grow and change? I’m writing the second book in the series now – and she’s keeping me guessing!
So, even as I strived to keep the plot of 10 Days – Dee’s intensive efforts that bring about the solving of the crime and tracking down villains who preyed on the weak,or fearful, or too-trusting victims at the forefront of the story – I hoped that my commitment to illuminating Dee’s deep personal need for justice (and why) is evident. That her personal journey to reclaim self-confidence is also a major part of the must-read (here’s crossing fingers) quality of the novel.
Let me know! https://www.juleselbo.com
QUESTION: Why did you want to write a crime/mystery series – and not a stand alone?
For me, it comes down to the desire to explore of one character. I was a screenwriter in Hollywood for two decades and I worked on quite a few tv series. The plotting of the season (generally 22 episodes) was one of the most exciting parts of the task. The writing staff had to make sure the character started at a certain pivotal juncture in their lives, the we’d pile on the obstacles (emotionally and physically and psychologically) and figure out an endpoint for that character – 22 episodes later. That opportunity to build a fictional life and the fictional events that shaped that life made me want to examine the ‘real’ tipping point moments in my own life. What are the moments when each of us pivot to a new path? Make an important decision? Take risks? Looking at – and answering these questions for my fictional Dee Rommel is such a fun challenge and of the main reasons I wanted her character inhabit a series – to give her time to grow and change.
QUESTION: Why is it important for you to have your character to desire ‘justice’ above all else?
I read somewhere, a long time ago, that there were five main ‘desires’ of human beings and whichever was the most important to a person, helped define their character. The desires were love, respect, power, justice, and security. Whether the article I read was true or not, it stuck with me. In a crime/mystery series, it’s often ‘justice’ that makes the investigator (professional or amateur) become obsessed about solving a crime. A search for order, or adherence to the idea of‘fair play’, or recognizing a moral compass that could make for a better world. I know I get upset if I read or see or hear about injustices (in the many forms they can take). The pursuit of justice, I think, is a strong motivating factor – creates a strong ‘story engine’ for an investigator protagonist.
Readers: Is the drive for justice as a motivator for the sleuth and important element for you in your enjoyment of crime fiction? Comment below or just say “hi” to win of a copy of 10 Days. (as soon as available after release).
This guest post is by Jule Selbo. Selbo is an award-winning author and screenwriter, an active member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, she has given workshops and presentations at numerous writing conferences and book events. She lives in Portland, Maine. Her latest book is 10 DAYS: A Dee Rommel Mystery (Pandamoon, August 2021).
“Jule Selbo’s 10 Days is a complex, well-constructed mystery that hooked me on Day 1. Selbo’s characters, good and bad, are emotionally satisfying, well sketched out, and the pacing of the plot is spot on and full of surprises. Dive into 10 Days and enjoy the ride.”-John Lansing, best-selling author of The Devil’s Necktie and other books in the Jack