Writing With … Joelle Charbonneau

Today, I’m pleased to welcome Joelle Charbonneau whose second Rebecca Robbins mystery, SKATING OVER THE LINE, was released yesterday. An accomplished singer, Joelle has performed in a variety of operas and musical theatre productions across the Chicagoland area. She now teaches private voice lessons and uses her stage experience to create compelling characters in her books. The first Rebecca Robbins mystery, SKATING AROUND THE LAW, came out last year, and the first in her new Paige series Marshall will be released in July. Visit her online at www.joellecharbonneau.net.

Q. Tell us about your book and what inspired you to write it.

SKATING OVER THE LINE is the second in the Rebecca Robbins mystery series. Most mysteries tend to revolve around a dead body. SKATING AROUND THE LAW had a dead body head first in a rink toilet. Fun for me to write. A little icky for the dead guy. But when writing book two, I starting thinking. I mean, how many small towns have residents turning up dead every other month or two? After a couple of murders, I would expect to see a lot of FOR SALE signs on front lawns and a mass exodus to the next county. With SKATING OVER THE LINE, I wanted to try my hand
at creating a compelling mystery that doesn’t start with death or dismemberment. Here’s hoping it worked.

Q. Did you need to do any special research for the book? If so, what’s one of the most interesting facts you discovered?

Ha! If the government is monitoring my internet search history and a car in my neighborhood gets hotwired or blown up, I am in big trouble. I had a lot of fun researching how to torch a car. Perhaps the most interesting fact I discovered is that there are ways to engulf something in flames while leaving everything around it untouched. I’d tell you how, but then I’d totally be giving something away and that would probably be bad, right?

Q. Many people are content to just be readers. How did you become a writer?

Funny, but I always feel guilty when I answer questions like this one because unlike a lot of writers, I didn’t always dream of seeing my name on a book jacket. I’m a stage performer. While growing up and through my twenties, I was happy to speak the lines someone else wrote. Strangely, it was my performing career that eventually made me dabble with stories of my own. Stage performers have odd schedules — eight shows a week, Wednesday through Sunday. Since my husband worked Mondays and Tuesdays (like any sane individual) I had those days free. One day, I had an idea for an opening line of a book in my head and I sat down at the computer and began to type. Now, I am partially convinced that my initial impulse to type that line into the computer had something to do with my lack of desire to clean house or do the laundry, but once my fingers started banging on the keys, I was hooked. I wanted to know if I could reach THE END. When I did, my husband (who read every word of that story — poor man!) encouraged me to submit it and write another book. That first book never got published — thank God! It took me a couple of whacks at writing novels before Rebecca, Pop and the Indian Falls gang helped me get a ticket on to the publishing merry-go-round. And, thus far, it has been a fascinating ride.

Q. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Sing, cook, read, watch baseball (although the Cubs were a very sad team to root for this year), cheer for the Bears and scream myself hoarse when the Bulls play.

Q. What are you reading right now?

I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE by Laura Lippman

Q. If you were stranded on that proverbial deserted island, what five books would you want to have with you?

Only five??? Okay — I guess I better make good choices.

TROPIC COOKING: THE NEW CUISINE FROM FLORIDA AND THE ISLANDS OF THE CARIBBEAN by Joyce LaFray (because my stomach gets pissy if I don’t eat)

ABSOLUTE POWER by David Baldacci (This will help me be grateful that I’m far away from organized government.)

A TALE OF TWO CITIES by Charles Dickens (It always takes me a long time to get through this book and I’m going to have nothing but time.)

ONE FOR THE MONEY by Janet Evanovich (When the sunburn sets in I’m going to need a good laugh.)

HEALING THREADS: TRADITIONAL MEDICINES OF THE HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS (Because I’m accident prone and I am adverse to death.)

Q. What’s your favorite movie?

I’ll have to flip a coin. Heads — The Fugitive. Tails — Die Hard.

Q. What’s your favorite food?

Hmmm…depends on the season. Since it is rainy and cool in Chicago I’m going to go with Chipotle Chicken Pot Pie.

Q. Cats or dogs?

Cats. (Love dogs. Don’t love picking up the poop.)

Q. Name one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you.

Wesley Snipes is my uncle. (Hey — you were the one that said to surprise them. You never said it had to be true!)

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2 Responses to Writing With … Joelle Charbonneau

  1. M.E. Anders

    Thanks for this interview with Joelle. I’m always searching for local Chicago authors. I’ll have to check out her website for any appearances in the area. 🙂

  2. Thomas Pluck

    Great interview, insights and laughs.