Jen: What inspired your new release, MOTHER-DAUGHTER MURDER NIGHT?
Nina: This novel is a love letter to my mom and strong women everywhere. I wrote it for my mom as a way to bring us comfort and joy during a tough family health crisis.
Mother-Daughter Murder Night is about the Rubicon family—a grandma, single mom, and teenage girl—who come together to solve a murder on the banks of a California marine preserve. It’s part twisty mystery, part family drama, with touches of humor along the way.
Jen: Who is Lana Rubicon, and why is she convalescing 300 miles north of LA?
Nina: Lana Rubicon is the superhero version of my own mom. At the start of the story, she’s a fiercely independent Jewish businesswoman in Los Angeles. When she is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, she is forced to move in with her estranged daughter Beth and teen granddaughter Jack in their ramshackle cottage in Monterey Bay so she can have support through treatment. Lana hates chemo, but even more, she despises being cooped up, and feeling powerless. When her granddaughter gets accused of murder, Lana jumps on the opportunity to clear Jack’s name and regain her own agency by finding the true killer.
Jen: What happens to Lana that turns her life upside down?
Nina: Lana starts the book as an independent, selfish person. She believes relying on anyone else is a fatal sign of weakness. When she gets cancer, her independence is ripped from her, and with it, her identity as a powerful businesswoman. Lana begins sleuthing to reclaim her power. But as the body count rises, and the mystery gets more complex, Lana realizes that she needs her daughter and granddaughter’s help to prevail. The story is as much about Lana and her girls finding the killer as it is about them finding new ways to love and support each other as a family of strong, independent women.
Jen: What’s Lana’s strategy for finding the killer?
Nina: Lana is brand new to detective work, so she uses the skills she honed as a businesswoman: intelligence, confidence, salesmanship, a bit of guile, and a well-placed metal stiletto when the circumstances call for it. All three Rubicon women bring their strengths to the investigation. Lana, the persuasive businesswoman, talks her way into close relationships with several suspects. Jack, the outdoor adventurer, hunts down clues on her paddleboard in the slough. And Beth, the no-nonsense nurse, tries to keep them all safe as they edge closer to danger.
Jen: What do you hope readers take away from this story?
Nina: I hope readers enjoy both the murder mystery and family drama aspects of Mother-Daughter Murder Night. It’s a twisty mystery, but it’s also the story of three independent women deepening their love for each other.
Most of all, I hope this book brings readers pleasure. I wrote this book as a fun escape from a tough situation. I hope it brings readers the same kind of comfort and joy that it brought me and my mom while I was writing it.
Jen: What’s your current work in progress?
Nina: I’m working on a couple of new novels at the intersection of strong women and crime fiction. I’m still new to writing fiction, and there are so many different kinds of stories I want to tell. I plan to keep pushing myself creatively and I hope I will have the opportunity to write many books, featuring many strong women, in the future.
Jen: What’s on your TBR stack?
Nina: Recently, I’ve been loving character-driven books that interrogate complicated family relationships. I loved What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jiménez and How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz. Next up for me is Happiness Falls by Angie Kim.
Jen: What’s the best way for readers to stay connected with you?
Nina: I love connecting with readers! You can find me on Instagram, Threads, Twitter, and Facebook, or on my website. I also write an honest, personal letter to readers a few times a year at https://ninaksimon.substack.com/, which often leads to rich conversations.
Jen: What are you looking forward to most this fall?
Nina: After so much time working on Mother-Daughter Murder Night, I’m so excited to go on tour and share the story with readers around the country. I’m an extrovert, and so much of my writing life is solitary. I can’t wait to talk with readers in person and learn what aspects of this story resonate with them.
Jen: Thank you for stopping by to chat about Mother-Daughter Murder Night. Best of luck with your new release!
Nina: Thank you so much for all you do for readers, writers, and stories!
Nothing brings a family together like a murder next door.
High-powered businesswoman Lana Rubicon has a lot to be proud of:her keen intelligence, impeccable taste, and the L.A. real estate empire she’s built. But when she finds herself trapped 300 miles north of the city, convalescing in a sleepy coastal town with her adult daughter Beth and teenage granddaughter Jack, Lana is stuck counting otters instead of square footage—and hoping that boredom won’t kill her before the cancer does.
Then Jack—tiny in stature but fiercely independent—happens upon a dead body while kayaking near their bungalow. Jack quickly becomes a suspect in the homicide investigation, and the Rubicon women are thrown into chaos. Beth thinks Lana should focus on recovery, but Lana has a better idea. She’ll pull on her wig, find the true murderer, protect her family, and prove she still has power.
With Jack and Beth’s help, Lana uncovers a web of lies, family vendettas, and land disputes lurking beneath the surface of a community populated by folksy conservationists and wealthy ranchers. But as their amateur snooping advances into ever-more dangerous territory, the headstrong Rubicon women must learn to do the one thing they’ve always resisted: depend on each other.
Mystery Woman Sleuth [William Morrow, On Sale: September 5, 2023, e-Book, ISBN: 9780063315044 / eISBN: 9780063315068]
Nina Simon has worn many hats: NASA engineer, slam poet, mystery game designer, exhibit developer, museum director, global nonprofit founder. Most of her career has been spent in museums and cultural centers, and she has been described as a “museum visionary” by Smithsonian Magazine for her community-based approach to design. She is an Ashoka fellow and the founder of OF/BY/FOR ALL, a global nonprofit that creates digital tools to help civic and cultural organizations become more inclusive, relevant, and sustainable.
Alongside her work engaging communities, Nina is an in-demand writer and speaker about community participation in museums, libraries, parks, and theaters. She has sold over 40,000 copies of her self-published books The Participatory Museum (2010) and The Art of Relevance (2016), and for thirteen years, she ran the top blog in the museum industry, Museum 2.0. She has over 25,000 Twitter followers, and she has shared her work as a keynote speaker at over 300 conferences in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, including several state and national library conferences. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, NPR, the New York Times, and on the TEDx stage.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Nina now lives in an off- grid community in the Santa Cruz mountains with her husband and daughter. She loves outdoor sports and adventures.
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