Huge congratulations on winning your Chill Award! You must be so happy that your work has been recognised in this way. Now, before we carry on, would you please introduce yourself to my readers, just in case they don’t know you already …
Hi Emma! Thanks for inviting me to your blog today. It is an honor to be under your Spotlight.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am an American expat and author of four books. My latest, Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery, will be released on April 6, 2018. I was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle and currently reside in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I am addicted to travel and use my journeys to inspire and inform my writing. The Adventures of Zelda Richardson mystery series transports readers to exotic locations around the globe. I’ve also released a travelogue – Notes of a Naive Traveler – about my own experience volunteering in Nepal as an English teacher.
So, your book has been awarded with a Chill with a Book Readers’ Award, what inspired you to write this story?
I moved to the Netherlands from Seattle, Washington to study art history in 2004. During university lectures we spent a lot of time discussing restitution cases involving looted-art, especially paintings stolen by the Nazis during World War Two. I often wondered what would happen if two people claimed the same painting. This question became the central plot of my art mystery, The Lover’s Portrait. The rest of the stories and characters were inspired by archival research I’d conducted into this dark period of Dutch history.
What does the award mean to you?
It is always a great honor to see one of your books win an award. But to have received the Chill with a Book Readers’ Award – thus one based on readers’ reviews – means the world to me!
What other titles have you published? Tell us a little about them …
My debut novel, Down and Out in Kathmandu is about a volunteer English teacher who gets entangled with smugglers whose Thai leader believes she’s stolen their diamonds. It is the first book in the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series and was so much fun to write! It is partially based on my own experiences traveling through Nepal and Thailand, as both a volunteer in Kathmandu and solo backpacker. In my book, Zelda wants to teach children English and “find herself” in Kathmandu. An Australian backpacker wants to get stoned and trek the Himalayas. And a Canadian traveler wants to get rich by smuggling diamonds. How their stories collide will leave you on the edge of your seat!
Last summer I also published a travelogue, Notes of a Naive Traveler: Nepal and Thailand. I did so because readers wanted to know more about my real-life journey and experiences as a volunteer. Part guidebook on culture and travel, part journey of self-discovery, my travelogue takes you on a backpacking adventure through Nepal and Thailand and provides a first-hand account of one volunteer’s experience teaching in a Nepali school and living with a devout Brahmin family.
It is a must-read for those interested in learning more about – or wishing to travel to – Nepal and Thailand. I hope it inspires readers to see these amazing countries for themselves.
Are you working on a new book? Tell me about that …
I am so excited to announce the release of my fourth book, Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery, on April 6! Set in Amsterdam and Papua New Guinea, it combines anthropology, art, and history into one thrilling adventure.
The storyline and subject matter were inspired by collection research I conducted for a fascinating exhibition of Asmat art and artifacts called Bis poles: Sculptures of the Rainforest. It was held in the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam in 2008. While researching the histories of Asmat objects held in Dutch museum collections, I came across many bizarre stories about headhunting, crazy explorers and daring anthropologists that stuck with me long after the exhibition opened.
This time my protagonist, Zelda Richardson, is working at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam on an exhibition of bis poles from the Asmat region of Papua New Guinea – the same area where a famous American anthropologist disappeared in 1962. When his journals are found inside one of the bis poles, Zelda is tasked with investigating the anthropologist’s last days and his connection to these ritual objects.
Zelda finds herself pulled into a world of shady anthropologists, missionaries, art collectors, headhunters, and smugglers – where the only certainty is that sins of the past are never fully erased.
I hope readers will join Zelda on her next quest as she grapples with the anthropologist’s mysterious disappearance fifty years earlier, and a present-day murderer who will do everything to prevent her from discovering the truth.
My intention in writing this book is not only to entertain readers, but also inspire them to learn more about the Asmat and their fascinating culture. I can’t wait to share Rituals of the Dead with mystery and thriller fans!
When not writing, what can you be found doing?
I enjoy swimming, biking around the Dutch countryside when it’s not raining, occasionally kayaking through Amsterdam’s canals, and reading a book while sitting on a sunny terrace.
Which three authors have most influenced your journey to becoming an author?
Alex Garland’s novel The Beach is the reason I wrote my first book, Down and Out in Kathmandu. It made me realize travel fiction could be thrilling, as well as convey a strong sense of place. The Choose Your Own Adventures novels by R. A. Montgomery taught me early on that life is one big adventure and choices abound. That’s been an important and lasting lesson in my life and writing. I read all of Agatha Christie’s mysteries when I was a girl. I know they influenced my decision to write mysteries later in life.
Why did you choose the genre you write in?
Mystery, travel, historical fiction, and thrillers are the genres my books fall into. I love to travel, and mysteries have always been my favorite genre as a reader. When I set out to write my first novel, Down and Out in Kathmandu, combining the two came naturally.
While developing the plots for my second and third novels, The Lover’s Portrait and Rituals of the Dead, it became clear both would need to include aspects of historical fiction. Creating parallel storylines – one set in the past and one in the present – provided more depth to both mysteries and allowed me to explore the fascinating histories of the Netherlands and Papua New Guinea through fiction.
Rituals of the Dead is more a thriller than mystery, simply because the storyline demanded more action and a faster pace, in comparison to the first two novels in the series.
Which other genre would you chose if you had to change?
High octane adventure fiction written by such greats as Clive Cussler always intrigues me, but that’s not my style.
Quick fire questions …
Twitter or Facebook? Facebook
Tea or coffee? coffee
Marmite – yes or no? NO!! And I’ve tried it several times, just to be certain.
Early riser or sleep in? Sleep in.
Pj’s or ‘normal’ clothes when writing? Pj’s – which is embarrassing when there is a delivery in the afternoons and you have to pretend you just got out of the shower.
Planner or pantster? Planner
Book or kindle? Used to be book, but lately Kindle.
Pineapple on pizza – yes or no? YES! Delicious!
And finally, … What is your favourite book of all time?
There are so many; I couldn’t choose one! The Ghost by Robert Harris is a thriller that keeps you guessing right down to the last word. I am in awe of his writing, pacing, storyline, characters, and subject matter. It’s truly a brilliant book! The Westing Game is a well-built mystery by Ellen Raskin. It’s for adolescents but also enjoyable for adults. It’s also the first book I read so often it literally fell apart.
Thank you for joining me today and many congratulations again on your Chill with A Book Award!
Thank you, Emma! I really appreciate this opportunity. Take care!
My absolute pleasure, Jennifer, and well done again!
If you’d like to find out more about the Chill With A Book Award, click here and you can get your copy of award winning, The Lover’s Portrait by following the link below:
Missing masterpieces, Nazi blackmailers and a pesky amateur sleuth.
When a Dutch art dealer hides the stock from his gallery – rather than turn it over to his Nazi blackmailer – he pays with his life, leaving a treasure trove of modern masterpieces buried somewhere in Amsterdam, presumably lost forever. That is, until American art history student Zelda Richardson sticks her nose in.
After studying for a year in the Netherlands, Zelda scores an internship at the prestigious Amsterdam Museum, where she works on an exhibition of paintings and sculptures once stolen by the Nazis, lying unclaimed in Dutch museum depots almost seventy years later. When two women claim the same portrait of a young girl entitled Irises, Zelda is tasked with investigating the painting’s history and soon finds evidence that one of the two women must be lying about her past. Before she can figure out which one it is and why, Zelda learns about the Dutch art dealer’s concealed collection. And that Irises is the key to finding it all.
Her discoveries make her a target of someone willing to steal – and even kill – to find the missing paintings. As the list of suspects grows, Zelda realizes she has to track down the lost collection and unmask a killer if she wants to survive.
About the author …
Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle and currently lives in Amsterdam. Her love of travel, art and culture inspires her on-going mystery series, the Adventures of Zelda Richardson. Her background in journalism, multimedia development and art history enriches her novels.
In Down and Out in Kathmandu, Zelda gets entangled with a gang of smugglers whose Thai leader believes she’s stolen his diamonds. The Lover’s Portrait is a suspenseful “whodunit?” about Nazi-looted artwork that transports readers to wartime and present-day Amsterdam. Art, religion, and anthropology collide in Rituals of the Dead, a thrilling artifact mystery set in Papua New Guinea and the Netherlands. Learn more about Jennifer and her books on her website: http://www.jennifersalderson.com/.
Her next book, Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery is available to pre order now:
Art, religion, and anthropology collide in Alderson’s latest art mystery thriller, Rituals of the Dead, book three of the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series.
Art history student Zelda Richardson is thrilled to be working at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam on an exhibition of bis poles from the Asmat region of Papua New Guinea – the same area where a famous American anthropologist disappeared in 1962. When his journals are found inside one of the bis poles, Zelda is tasked with finding out more about the man’s last days and his connection to these ritual objects.
Zelda is pulled into a world of shady anthropologists, head-hunters, missionaries, art collectors, and smugglers – where the only certainty is that sins of the past are never fully erased.
Join Zelda as she grapples with the anthropologist’s mysterious disappearance fifty years earlier, and a present-day murderer who will do anything to prevent her from discovering the truth.
Rituals of the Dead is available as pre-order on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.
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