Q&A: K.B. Owen | SELE-e Circs: The Top Ten Titles in SELF-e Select



Craig, Elizabeth Spann. A Body at Book Club. Elizabeth Spann Craig. (Myrtle Clover, Bk. 6). 2016. 172p. ebk. ISBN 9780989518048.


Allen, Anne. Dangerous Waters. Sarnia. (Guernsey, Bk. 1). 2014. 316p. ebk. ISBN N/A.


Mack, Debbi. Five Uneasy Pieces. Renegade. 2010. 95p. ebk. ISBN 9780982950807.


Massey, Sujata. The Kizuna Coast. Ikat. (Rei Shimura, Bk. 11). 2015. 392p. ebk. ISBN N/A.


Owen, K.B. Dangerous and Unseemly. Dystel & Goderich. (Concordia Wells, Bk. 1). 2013. 354p. ebk. ISBN 9780988788091.


Mack, Debbi. Identity Crisis. Renegade. (Sam McRae, Bk. 1). 2013. 254p. ebk. ISBN 9781452400730.


Birk, Mary. Mermaids of Bodega Bay. CreateSpace: Amazon. 2014. 372p. ebk. ISBN 9781370494217.


Haymore, Sheri. A Deeper Cut. Sheri Haymore. 2013. 346p. ebk. ISBN N/A.


Craig, Elizabeth Spann. Death Pays a Visit. Elizabeth Spann Craig. (Myrtle Clover, Bk. 7). 2016. 224p. ebk. ISBN 9780989518062.


Ross, Orna. After the Rising. Orna Ross. (Irish Trilogy, Bk. 1). 2011. 336p. ebk. ISBN 9780954875626.

These titles are currently the top mysteries being read through SELF-e Select, a subscription-based
digital discovery platform that culls the best self-published submissions. To bring SELF-e to your library,
visit self-e.libraryjournal.com/.

K.B. Owen’s Dangerous and Unseemly won the 2015 Indie Ebook Awards Best Mystery. The first book in her “Concordia Wells” series, it sees the titular series character pulled into a whodunit after a family member dies and a friend is attacked.

Do you have a history with libraries? How do you see them as a way to reach readers?
I’ve loved libraries ever since I can remember. As a little girl, my mom would take me several times a week to our local branch. Each time, I’d walk out with a stack of books I could barely carry. In the decades since, I’ve explored the shelves of many libraries, falling in love with authors and series I would not have found otherwise. I’m grateful to be part of that tradition from the side of a mystery author, with new readers out there to discover my books. I’m delighted that libraries are instituting programs such as SELF-e to serve this new generation. Libraries have always been essential to a well-educated society, and they will continue to fill that role.

How did you get started as a writer? Were mysteries always your focus?
Oh yes, I love reading mysteries and knew these were the kind of stories I wanted to tell. It’s a wonderful genre. In a traditional mystery, [there’s] a unique intersection of puzzle, adventure, and justice. Depending upon the subgenre, you may also find interesting bits of history, humor, and even romance.

I decided to try my hand at writing a novel during a sabbatical from teaching at George Washington University, DC. My mother-in-law had become gravely ill, and I knew the family would need me. I began outlining and researching a historical mystery in my free time, but the breakthrough came after my mother-in-law’s unfortunate passing. I was helping sort her papers and discovered fascinating insights into her time as a young adult away from home at Immaculata College, PA. That gave me the idea of setting the story at a women’s college—though much earlier, in the 1890s. Dangerous and Unseemly is dedicated to her. She was a librarian, too.

Part of the fun of reading about Concordia is the historical detail you provide. Do you prepare to research and let what you learn drive the plot, or do you already know the plot when you start?
It’s a bit of both, actually. At the beginning of the series, the research drove most of the ideas for the story. I had to be sure of what was plausible. As more books in the series have been published, the character arcs began to propel the plot. These days, I research the gaps that crop up. Sometimes that will suggest a change in outline.

It’s a wonderful time to be a historical author. The wealth of digitized material, through such sites as the Library of Congress and Google Books is amazing. My favorite free website is Chronicling America, which is a search engine for digitized U.S. newspapers published between 1836 and 1922. Advertisements, turns of phrase, dramatic journalism—this site has it all. I have also been fortunate in finding experts at universities and museums who are willing to answer my questions.

While reading your books, I thought you must have a background in academia. How did teaching affect your writing?
My teaching experiences definitely influenced my portrayal of the fictitious community of Hartford Women’s College. It influenced the interaction between Concordia—a professor—and her students in particular. Students then and now are not so different. The liveliness of youth is timeless, as are the pressures and expectations placed upon young people. Often a college professor finds herself serving as a mentor as well as an instructor. That, too, is timeless.—Stephanie Anderson, BookOps, New York P.L. and Brooklyn P.L.

These titles are currently the top mysteries being read through SELF-e Select, a subscription-based digital discovery platform that culls the best self-published submissions. To bring SELF-e to your library, visit ow.ly/XBU4307Gc5M.





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Kate DiGirolomo About Kate DiGirolomo

Kate DiGirolomo is the SELF-e Community Coordinator at Library Journal. She received her Master's degree in Library and Information Science at Pratt Institute. Follow her on Twitter @KateDiGirolomo.

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