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
Welcome to the blog, Jule! The new book sounds fabulous. Justice is what all our protagonists seek, isn’t it?
I love the ticking clock approach to your story, too. I just finished writing one that takes place in six days – it’s a great way to ramp up the tension.
Six days! I’m impressed. My second in the series is “9 DAYS” and I’m halfway through (at least in what I hope will be page count) – and only on day 3 – it’s amazing what can be packed into a day (especially in a “small town”). Michael Connelly, in his books based in Los Angeles, has the “luxury” of the time it takes to travel from Hollywood to the Valley and traffic jams… what’s the name of your SIX days one?
Murder in a Cape Cottage, which comes out in March. First scene – they find a skeleton in a wedding dress inside the walls. Last scene – they get married!
I like it when justice is achieved. So satisfying; That you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com
what’s interesting to me is that justice can be very personal. All mixed-up in “fairness” and how each person wants the world to be – not just legal gusting. Thanks pgenest57!
Congratulations on your debut mystery. The premise of the book does indeed draw you in and I know that it is something that I want to read.
And seeing justice done is a key component of all mysteries I’d think. Otherwise, what’s the point of solving the crime in the first place if not for justice.
You’re so right re: justice – I read somewhere that there are 5 MAIN REASONS why people act the way they do – decide to pursue what they pursue etc. LOVE, JUSTICE, RESPECT, SECURITY or POWER. I find Justice to be something that I personally gravitate towards – and respect. Those that follow an overriding need for power – usually, in my mind, make great villains.
Justice is definitely an important motivator for sleuths in books I enjoy – I want them to deeply feel the need to “do the right thing” and solve the crime that harmed the innocent (or not so innocent sometimes!) party. It’s that drive for right vs wrong and empathy that makes a character compelling., I think. Best of luck on your new series!
Kathy – we are on the same page! Our bookshelves may look similar! I’m deep into the next book now, 9 DAYS – and it’s got me sweating – but it’s fun getting the story to unfold. Thanks for the well-wishes.
Justice is absolutely an important motivator! Otherwise, why are the characters seeking the truth? Self preservation is another good reason, but there’s only so many times one character can be personally accused of a crime or in danger before it gets old. Justice is universal.
That is such a great comment – “only so many times one character can be personally accused or a crime or in danger… as I work on the next book, 9 DAYS, A Dee Rommel Mystery – I am constantly asking myself that question – how to keep the STORY TENSION high if the protagonist is not in imminent danger herself… great puzzles to try make work! Thanks for the thought!
Circumstances, needless to say, were completely different, but I can so relate to Dee’s character. When life seems to throw all it can at you, but battered, physically and emotionally, you have to decide to put one foot in front of the other and continue on. I’ve not lost a limb, but had to deal with the death of our only child. You can wallow or you can strive to survive. Dees’ character makes her more appealing to me and makes the desire to read her story even more.
Love when a book is part of a series. That way we get to know them and follow their stories unfold like a bug on the wall (other than hopefully we don’t get squashed in the process). As in life, our lives are made up of many stories, some interwoven and some not, so in a series where the character that we enjoy reading about gets to show us more than one story of their life.
Think we all desire justice – be it being treated fairly or seeing criminals made to pay for their crime. I know we were that way concerning those that caused the death of our daughter. Justice can relieve some of the pain and/or give closure to a chapter of one’s life. I’m anxious to see how Dee handles justice in her life.
Although, I’ve not had the opportunity to read one of your books – yet, I will say after reading the guest post and about the book that I’m hoping that statement doesn’t remain true for long. “10 Days” sounds absolutely amazing and most definitely on my TBR list now.
Thank you for the chance to win a copy. Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one selected.
2clowns at arkansas dot net
Thank you for the reply. Emotional pain is so tough, my heart goes out to you. Please let me know your thoughts when you get to read 10 DAYS, A Dee Rommel Mystery – let me know how you find Dee’s mindset. Are you living in Arkansas? I have a nephew in Fayatteville – he’s a firefighter. I was there for his wedding a few years ago and loved it. Jule
I think all my protagonists – both series – are very concerned with justice and yes, I think that’s a natural desire in crime fiction.
The book I just finished takes place in 48 hours. That was a challenge for sure, but great for tension!
WHAAAATTTTT? Kudos! I am now working on 9 DAYS, A Dee Rommel Mystery, (second book in the series) and getting all the characters and pieces in place has been wild! I want to get down to at least 5 DAYS, A Dee Rommel Mystery – and my husband says I must get all the way down to 1 DAY (10 books) but not even thinking that far ahead! What’s the name of your name book? Jule
This is next year’s Homefront book – THE LESSONS WE LEARN. It will be out in February 2022. I didn’t plan for it to (mostly) take 48 hours (the actual span of the book is longer, but most of the investigation happens on Saturday to Sunday). It just happened that way.
I’ve never thought of it before I put I do think a want for justice is important to me in a mystery.
Dear Auntie Carol (love your nom de plume)
My father was a lawyer and a work-a-holic – if I wanted to spend time with him I had to “hang” at his office. Maybe that’s how I got so interested in the ins and out of who got “justice” and who didn’t. But I’m also a Capricorn – the goat who steadily climbs (for some reason I equate that with doggedness to seek “right”) now you have me thinking about why do I think they are related??!! Ahh well. We are on the same thought wave about justice – that’s for sure. Jule
Yes it is.
Thanks for the affirmation – it’s always interesting to me to get inside the “bad guys” heads too – to try to understand their version of ‘justice’. Best to you! Jule
Congratulations on your debut book. I do believe that the fight for justice is an important part of the books I read. Whether it is justice only for the victim or also for the wrongly accused.
I would very much like to read and review your book as I think it sounds like a good plot with strong characters.
So excited you want to read and review 10 DAYS, A Dee Rommel Mystery. I know – there are so many ways to approach justice – personal, legal, individual etc. – all so fascinating!
Welcome and congratulations on your new book. It sounds fabulous and multi-layered.
Sherry – Thanks for the welcome. This is such a great site. I do want 10 DAYS, A Dee Rommel Mystery to be layered – build characters that readers will want to come back to! I am half-way through the next book
9 DAYS, A Dee Rommel Mystery. It’s kicking my butt! Best to you! Jule
Hi Jule! Looking forward to the release of 10 Days. Sounds fascinating. Justice is a great motivator. Mystery readers often want to have order restored to the chaotic world of the story. Justice is the perfect ending.
What a great thing for me to think about today. The difference between ORDER and JUSTICE. Really great differences to explore. Thanks! Best to you. Jule
Hi Jule. Justice above all. YES…since we are escaping from any harsh realities when we read, I expect justice to be carried out in the end…that is the satisfying “Happily Ever After” that completes the story for me.
Thank you for sharing your writing with us readers who are like sponges 😉
Yes – justice may not be pretty – but it does get us to some good satisfaction. I was watching a TV show the other night that DID NOT provide that closure (yes life is not always easy) and in the “B” stories, there was not enough movement forward to make me want to come back to the show. Odd – I do like “tough and real” but I also like when there is some order or positive movement in some part of the tale. Thanks for getting me thinking more about it! Jule
I see your background is in writing historical award winning novels.
This is a huge shift it seems to me. Do you have more fun writing mystery/crime novels or historical?
And is Dee’s last name an homage to the historical aspect of your writing? 😉
June. Great to hear from you. I am a huge research nut – love it. So even in the crime mystery there was a lot of research I had to do – like the work I did on the Laura Bassi and the John Cabot books – and even FIND ME IN FLORENCE. And the crime mystery adds another challenge – clues, letting the audience “solve” the mystery along with Dee Rommel. It’s one of the hardest genres – that’s why thriller and mystery – when well done – are so compelling! The name Rommel – mmmmm maybe. But I think the name is a great sounding name also. Best Jule
Perfect for a detective!
You asked whether justice is the motivator that I want. I think of it more as just doing what is right in the eyes of God. What some people call “justice” is not really justice at all if it stems from a wrong motive such as vengeance or jealousy.
I, too, love a well written mystery series and feel fortunate to be reading Dee Rommel right at its inception! Knowing how important character development is, half the fun must be in strategically dribbling out traits for the main characters as the story unfolds. Especially when you have a vision for future stories that the reader is not privy to! It sounds like a series that is both a technically challenging puzzle and a labor of love! Congratulations!
Yeah – nail on the head! The second book is challenging – because the writer can’t be sure the reader will have read the first one. But to keep the backstory feeling fresh – even as information is given again!
I love reading mysteries because justice is done at the end. I think most protagonists have that sense of justice in their DNA or they wouldn’t try to solve the mystery.
yeah I think seeking justice makes for a good professional investigator – be it a cop especially. Lots of variations for other types of investigators – amateur and mercenary pros etc. sometimes have more skewed reasons – but then – often times you have someone looking at THEIR intentions to get to the core of justice – it’s all so interesting to me – thanks for getting me to think even deeper. best. Jule
Yes, the seeking of justice, the righting of wrongs. Often the non-professional investigator is motivated on behalf of an innocent friend. We don’t always see it IRL, so it’s good to find some in fiction.
I have never seen ” IRL” before – will adopt it – cause it’s so useable – and needed. WOMEN IN JEOPARDY stories – with non-pro investigators – such a staple. Good vs evil – so much fun to read. best. Jule
Truth, Justice and the American Way. Dee Rommel may not have “super powers” but she sounds like the kind of character who can keep us detective mystery fans going for some time. Congrats and looking forward to what I already know is a cracking good read.
Ahhhh – maybe not the American way! But her personal way!
Maybe not the American Way – but the Dee Rommel way – thanks for the comment!
You are the best – fab writer and producer. Gracias!
Congratulations on your upcoming release! It sounds like a great read, and I love to read book series, I love it when Justice prevails! Thank you for sharing about the book and I loved reading the interview. Have a great weekend and stay safe.
Alicia, I am with you. I love series – love to revisit characters that I have gotten attached to. I don’t know for sure, but off the top of my head – it seems like the crime/mystery genre has MORE “series” than other genres – maybe fantasy or sci fi would be close. Now that you have me thinking about it – I’ll have to research that. GAME OF THRONES is 7 books, James Bond is 12 books, WHEEL OF TIME (fantasy) has 14 books so far – found this site: https://murder-mayhem.com/detective-series-books
Ahhh well – now you have me on a jag. – and in just looking up detective series – I know have quite a few more to read! Best – Jule
Hi Jule! I can’t wait to read the series…I just recently became obsessed with crime novels and tv shows. I am wondering if there is any significance to “10 days?” Also, did the time frame of 10 days make it easier to write the narrative or did it make it more restrictive?
Having the case take place over 10 DAYS and having a reason for it to HAVE to end in 10 days – was a help and a challenge. But I think mostly a help. Now I’m doing 9 DAYS! Best to you – Jule
Nice to meet you. This looks awesome! It calls my name for a number of reasons. I look forward to meeting Dee.
Tracy – great! Please let me know what you think – AUG 11 is the major release – it’s available pre-order on Kindle now and through publisher – but AUG 11 is the magic date! Let me know what you think! Jselbo@fullerton.edu
Hi Jule – so exciting! Congratulations on your forthcoming book! I think injustice is one of those primal sources of emotion and empathy! I’m also really drawn to your comment “What are the moments when each of us pivot to a new path?” Yes! Isn’t this why we write, in any genre? Bravo!
Cassie – yeah – those tipping point moments. Always interesting to look at – especially with perspective! This is a great site to hear how writers are thinking/doing – I’ll keep you up to date – you do the same thing! Jule
Welcome, Jule. Sounds like a great new series. Adding the book to my TBR list.
Fabulous! Best to you and look forward to hearing what you think!
Thank you for sharing. I love mysteries. God bless you.
Mysteries have filled up so many hours of reading for me. Love them too! Best to you! Jule
Sounds so interesting! Congrats on the new path.
Congratulations on your new book! Sounds awesome! As subjective as justice is, we certainly need more of it in this world. Excited to read 10 Days!
Jessica – yes – definitely we all see “justice” in so many ways. So great to hear from you. Best. Jule
As a nurse and security officer, I like reading about the medical situations and mysterious happenings. A book that combines both have my senses on high alert.
Amazing combination of jobs – so good to hear from you! Yes, Dee is dealing with the aftermath of a physical trauma, and getting her body and head back in shape as best she can – while fulfilling the crime/mystery part of the story – that she is obsessed with making “right”. Would love to hear from you after you have a read of 10 DAYS, A Dee Rommel Mystery –
Yes, the drive for justice is one of the reasons I read mysteries.
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