Colleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at Yale, George Mason University, Georgetown, and Penn. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service. She is currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress. A member of Sisters in Crime, Colleen lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband, Rob, and their beagle mutt, Conan.
Judy: Tell us a bit about your debut mystery novel, Stabbing in the Senate.
Colleen: Stabbing in the Senate introduces the world to Kit Marshall, a congressional staffer who learns the hard way that politics can be murder. When she shows up early for work one morning, she finds her boss dead inside his office. Immediately, Kit is labeled the prime suspect. After enlisting the help of her best friend and office mate Meg and her professor boyfriend Doug, Kit scours Capitol Hill to find the real killer. Stabbing in the Senate is the first book in the Washington Whodunit mystery series. (November 2015, Camel Press).
Judy: What or who inspired you to become a writer?
Colleen: I’ve been reading mysteries for years as a relaxing way to unwind. One day, I took a walk in my suburban Washington, D.C. network and conceived of the plot of Stabbing in the Senate. The politics of my former workplace, the United States Congress, provided a perfect plot for murder. I’d read many Margaret Truman novels, and I was inspired to write entertaining mysteries set in our nation’s capital.
Judy: Describe your writing process and/or a typical day in your life.
Colleen: I’m busy from six in the morning until nine in the evening. I exercise before work, oftentimes taking my dog Conan on a jog around our neighborhood. At the Library of Congress, I help run a 400-person division called National and International Outreach. We consist of all the programs at the Library which serve the American public, including the Center for the Book, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the Kluge Center for Scholars, the Visitor Services Office, all Library exhibits, the Special Events office, the Library gift shop, World Digital Library, and the National Book Festival! I’m always on the move and rarely spend more than an hour in my office in any given day. We have initiatives in all three Library buildings; I wish hoverboards were allowed so I could reduce my travel time between appointments.
If I don’t have an evening event to attend, I come home immediately after work and try to squeeze in an hour for writing. In the spring and summer months, I enjoy writing outside on my backyard deck. It’s not easy to write a novel this way, but I’ve discovered helpful “tricks” along the way. For example, when I’m finished for the night, I write reminder notes so the next time I work on the manuscript, I remember the next scene or line of dialogue. It helps with continuity and allows me to maximize the time I have to spend on writing.
Judy: What are you currently reading?
Colleen: I’m currently reading The Ways of the Dead by Neely Tucker. It’s a crime mystery/thriller weaving together a high profile murder with several cold cases. The Washington, D.C. described by Tucker is very different than the setting I describe in my novels. Both his depiction and mine are legitimate, and I find it fascinating that one city can generate such diverse writing and stories.
Judy: Can you recommend a lesser-known author well worth reading?
Colleen: I’m not sure these authors are “lesser-known” but I love the following series: Ellen Crosby (Virginia Wine Country mysteries), Mary Marks (Quilting mysteries), Chris Cavender (Pizza mysteries), and Tracy Weber (Downward Dog mysteries).
Judy: What’s next for Colleen Shogan?
Colleen: I will be the Virginia Festival of the Book on March 19. Book 2 of the Washington Whodunit series, Homicide in the House, will be available on June 15, 2016. I will also be attending Malice Domestic in Bethesda, which takes place from April 29 to May 1.
Judy: I look forward to meeting you there! Thank you for visiting.
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