Genre Hopping with Elizabeth de Veer

News Flash: Nancy is the lucky winner of Elizabeth’s book. Nancy, please check your email, and congratulations!

Edith/Maddie in a chilly week north of Boston.

 I’m so happy to welcome debut author Elizabeth de Veer to the blog. The Ocean in Winter is an atmospheric and beautifully told tale of three adult sisters. I absolutely loved reading it after it came out last summer, and I know you will, too. She’s giving away a copy to one lucky commenter!

Here’s the blurb:

The lives of the three Emery sisters were changed forever when the oldest sister, Alex, eleven then, found their mother drowned in the bathtub of their home. Now the girls are grown and navigating different directions. Alex, a nurse, has been traveling in India and grieving her struggle to have a child; Colleen is the devoted mother of preteens in denial that her marriage is ending; and Riley, the youngest, has been leading what her sisters imagine to be the dream life of a successful model in New York City. But Riley has many dark secrets, and she’s cut off communications with her family. Now, Alex and Colleen are desperate to find her, but what if they can’t get to her in time? “Fiercely intelligent and always engaging, de Veer does what the best novelists do: she takes the full measure of her difficult subject, and transforms it through some alchemy into hard-won wisdom and grace.” –Elisabeth Elo, author of Finding Katarina M. and North of Boston

Let’s get our interview started.

What genres do you write in?

I mostly write literary fiction/women’s fiction, although now I’m trying my hand at a murder mystery.

What drew you to the genre you write?

It’s just how my first books came out, but I enjoy exploring and expounding upon the characters’ emotional lives. The Ocean in Winter includes a mystery and a ghost story. I thought including ghosts would be a good way to explore the theme of what it means to be haunted.

What sets your book apart from what is out there?

The Ocean in Winter is the story of three sisters whose mother committed suicide when they were children. The story picks up when they are adults and all three sisters are at a crossroads. I think my writing style holds the reader in the center of the character’s emotional experience, which is sometimes traumatic, but I don’t tip into melodrama. This lets the reader experience the feelings but stay inside the story.

Do you write a series or standalones? Why?

I write standalones. I guess that’s just what the Muse tells me to do. I feel like it might be more sensible to write a series, but I’m one and done, baby.

As a series writer, I always find that so interesting! What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m writing a standalone murder mystery set in a town very similar to Georgetown, Massachusetts, where I live. The story is about a teenager, Tyler Sturges, who went missing fifteen years ago. The case wakes up again when one of the friends finds his ID in an abandoned house. Why would the owner of the house, Old Man Egmont, have murdered Tyler? And if he did, what happened to the body? (I actually happen to know those answers but you, dear readers, will have to wait to find out more!)

I can’t wait. What are you reading right now?

I spoke to my first book club last week (squee!! So fun!) and one of the readers had just read Stephen King’s book On Writing. I read it a long time ago, but she reminded me what a great book it is. Now I’m listening to the audiobook. The man really is a genius storyteller. My favorite story so far is about flatulent babysitter Eulah Beulah and how she fed little Stevie way too many eggs. It’s just the smallest anecdote, but it is absolutely wonderful. It’s also such a treat to get writing advice and insight from the master.

I should reread that, too. It’s on my shelf of books about writing. Do you have a favorite quote or life motto?

From Finding Nemo: “When life gets you down, you know what you got to do? Just keep swimming.” I think about that lot when things get discouraging. Keep your head down, focus on what works, and keep swimming.

I love that quote! What’s your favorite writing space?

Ten years ago, before my daughter was born, I had a sweet little home office. After she came along, I came to love getting out of the house and writing in coffee shops. Nowadays, my husband works full time (and overtime) in that home office, and I have taken over the desk in the dining room where my daughter did school over Zoom last year. But I’m miss coffee shops!! I can’t wait to get back to them.

Favorite deadline snack?

Whatever’s easy to prep, light and tasty, microwaveable, vegetarian, but nothing too fattening. Oh, and coffee.

What do you see when you look up from writing?

There’s a big window behind my desk in the corner of the dining room and it looks out into our front yard. There’s a lovely little Japanese elm out there whose leaves turn scarlet-crimson in the fall. The birds just love flitting about that tree and in the summer, we had two pairs of hummingbirds who frequently spent time in that tree. Looking up and seeing them was just a treat.

Thank you so much for inviting me to “talk” with you!

Edith: It’s been a delightful chat. I was so happy to help you celebrate being a Debutante at Crime Bake last weekend!

Readers: What’s your favorite paranormal mystery or ghost story? What makes you pick up a book in a genre you don’t usually read? Elizabeth will send one of you a paper copy of The Ocean in Winter.

Elizabeth de Veer has a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and has been admitted to writing residencies at the Jentel Artist Residency, the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and is a member of several writing groups, including the Newburyport Writers’ Group and Sisters in Crime New England. She lives in a Georgetown, Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and labradoodle.

22 Thoughts

    1. I agree, Dru! You know, our whole lives we hear “don’t judge a book by its cover.” But we always judge books by their covers! Sometimes the visual piece tells its own story. I absolutely love my cover (which I had nothing to do with) because it captures the meditative energy of the beach at Plum Island, Massachusetts, and the dark family, emotive story in the book.

  1. Congratulations, Elizabeth, on genre hopping into writing mysteries. Both the Ocean in Winter and your WIP (work in progress) sound intriguing.

    Me, about 90% of the books I read are mysteries. Been a devoted reader of the genre for over 45 years. But I do occasionally read some fantasy/sci-fi, women’s fiction or non-fiction. Usually it is a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend (and fellow reader) that draws me to a new book outside my comfort zone.

  2. I don’t have a favorite paranormal mystery or ghost story because I usually do not read in those genres.

      1. Nancy’s book is wrapped, addressed and will be taken to the post office later today. Thanks so much to everyone, especially Edith for inviting me! Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!

  3. Thank you Edith for introducing me to a new to me author! Loved the interview because it gives us more insight into both book and author. I’ve already liked her Facebook page and look forward to learning even more about both.

    Too early in the morning to remember one, but I do enjoy reading them. The best way for me to pick up a new genre is through a referral from someone whose opinion matters – be it in person or through an author or blog post. I don’t like to be pegged as just one type reader and am always trying other genre. I will say the one that I just can’t seem to get into is the diehard sci-fi books. Maybe I just haven’t found the right one.

    “The Ocean in Winter” sounds like a fabulous book and one I would great enjoy reading. Sharing but hoping to be the fortunate one selected. Thanks for the chance!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Thank you so much, Kay! I very much appreciate the support. And I’ll say it again, I am so grateful to Edith Maxwell for inviting me to join in today. Mouth to mouth referrals is a GREAT way to find new reads!! Good for you for being open to all kinds. I’m like you – I need a story that grabs me, doesn’t matter what the genre is!

  4. Welcome to the Wickeds, Elizabeth! The Ocean in Winter sounds wonderful. For some reason I have been reading outside the mystery genre since the summer, after a few years of only reading mysteries. I have no idea how or why this happens.

    1. Thank you so much, Barbara!! Isn’t it funny how mysterious it is – you need to read what you need to read, but who knows why? It’s like falling in love!! Or the weird foods we can’t get enough of. (Yes, kimchi, I am talking about you.)

  5. My favorite paranormal series is “The Tradd Street” series by Karen White. You’re book sounds like a great read. I’m adding it to TBR list. Thanks for the chance.

  6. I read mostly mystery. I’m not sure about a favorite at I read so many different mystery books that I love!

  7. I recently read Maggie Robinson’s Lady Adelaide Mysteries, starting with Nobody’s Sweetheart Now. The ghost is her former husband who was a rascal in life and is in need of doing good works to have an afterlife. I enjoyed the series thanks to the humor as well as the mystery. Good luck with your book!

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