What made you choose 1971 as the setting for A Snake in the Raspberry Patch?
I chose 1971 because I didn’t want technology such as cell phones or computers to be in the story. Also, since true crime events in rural communities were part of the inspiration for this book, I didn’t want the date to conflict with other mass murders that have occurred in Canada. And in 1971, I was a teenager so could relate quite easily to what it would be like to live in that decade.
Is the story told through one character’s perspective?
Liz is the protagonist, so the story is told through her eyes, but Rose, whose personality seemed to jump out early in the writing, took over many of the scenes. She almost came alive as I wrote. I could even hear her voice in my head.
Do you try to maintain the tension throughout the story?
The murders, and/or a killer on the loose, so a potential threat to the girls, are mentioned throughout, creating tension. But I also wanted some normalcy - i.e., depiction of life on the prairie in the 70’s.
Families seem to be the heart of the story. What makes that such a compelling theme for you?
The reason family is a main theme is because another inspiration for the story is my mom who will be 93 this summer. She is the oldest in a family of five girls and one boy, the youngest being my Uncle Roger who was born when she was twelve. They were raised in a small Saskatchewan town, and I grew up hearing all kinds of stories and anecdotes about their lives.
Can you say whether there is resolution, and all questions are answered at the end of the book? Or is it more open-ended and readers are left to draw his or her own conclusions?
I don’t believe in having everything tied up with a bow at the end of a book, so while the question of who committed the murders was resolved, what happened to some of the other characters I’ve left to the readers imagination. Rose likely would have questioned everything for the remainder of her youth, but Fran, Robin, Alexandra, and Cole, being so young, would have lived their lives peacefully in the arms of their family. Liz, the sister Rose referred to as wearing “rose-colored glassed”, liked to think of everything as being ok even though deep down she would have sensed the truth.
What do you enjoy reading?
Well-written mysteries, psychological thrillers, dramas.
Jodi Picoult. Paula Hawkins. Liane Moriarty. Mitch Albom. Miriam Toews. Eden Robinson. Helen Humphreys. Stephen King. Ann Patchett. Garth Stein. Agatha Christie. Just to name a few.
Kind of cliche but my favorite books are To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.
The Body – Stephen King. (Because I love the movie Stand by Me)
The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
What are you currently working on?
I have a couple of books on the go. One is set in a senior’s home; the sequel to my first novel, The Wheaton. The other is about two teenagers: one who has all the material possessions she needs, but is struggling with her life, and another who is being raised in a poorer neighborhood, but has her life planned out.
It is the summer of 1971 and Liz takes care of her four sisters while waiting to meet the fifth Murphy child: a boy. And yet, something is not right. Adults tensely whisper in small groups, heads shaking. Her younger sister, Rose seems more annoying, always flashing her camera and jotting notes in her her notepad. The truth is worse than anyone could imagine: an entire family slaughtered in their home nearby, even the children. The small rural community reels in the aftermath. No one seems to know who did it or why. For Liz, these events complicate her already tiring life. Keeping Rose in line already feels like a full-time job, and if Rose gets it in her head that she can solve a murder... The killer must be someone just passing through, a random horror. It almost begs the question: where do murderers live?
Mystery [Stonehouse Press, On Sale: May 1, 2022, Paperback, ISBN: 9781988754413 / ]
A Snake in the Raspberry Patch is Joanne Jackson's second novel. She lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with her husband and a border collie named Mick. If you keep your eyes peeled you will see the three of them walking every morning come rain, or shine, snow, or whatever weather Saskatchewan might throw at them.
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