Tag Archives: #MTW2017

Before They Were Authors: Jennifer Alderson

Jennifer S. Alderson

Jennifer S. Alderson worked as a journalist and website developer in Seattle, Washington before trading her financial security for a backpack. After years of traveling the world, she now calls Amsterdam home. She’s the author of two novels, a travel fiction thriller set in Nepal and Thailand, Down and Out in Kathmandu: adventures in backpacking, and a suspenseful whodunit set in Amsterdam, The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery. Here’s more about Jennifer, in her own words:

I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge and I love learning new things. As a result, my career path has taken many twists and turns along the way. Before my novels were published, I worked as a journalist and editor for regional newspapers, then as a multimedia developer for large corporations, before finally transitioning into my latest role as collection researcher and project assistant for museums. All of the jobs and experiences I’ve had have influenced my writing by inspiring and informing storylines, plot twists, and characters.

The University Library (UBA) is the largest library at the University of Amsterdam.

When burnout forced me to rethink my career in the ICT sector, I moved from Seattle, Washington to the Netherlands to study European art history at the University of Amsterdam for a year. At the time, art history seemed like the perfect antithesis to sitting behind a desk pushing pixels all day long. I’d minored in the subject while majoring in journalism and figured doing something completely different would help me find my path in life again.

Those first few months of classes were a revelation. I loved the subject matter, lectures, and numerous field trips so much that I ended up staying longer and earning a Master’s degree in Museum Studies. Unfortunately the world-wide economy crashed in 2008 – the year I graduated – and my dream of becoming a senior curator at the Van Gogh Museum was never realized. However, I was lucky enough to work for several museums in Amsterdam before subsidy cuts for cultural institutions translated into massive layoffs.

Museum Willet-Holthuysen on the Herengracht canal in Amsterdam

One of my favorite assignments was creating an exhibition plan for Museum Willet-Holthuysen in Amsterdam, a well-maintained canal house bequeathed to the city in 1895 by its’ last occupants on the condition it become a museum bearing their names. It’s still filled with the former owners’ impressive furnishings and extensive collection of sculptures, paintings and decorative arts. Technically my title was collection researcher and my goal was to find connections between the many tomes on ceramic in Abraham Willet’s extensive library and his collection of European ceramic objects. To what extent did he follow the advice and trends mentioned or discussed in his books, the majority of which he purchased himself; exhibition catalogues, contemporary art theory and other guides containing the latest trends and tips for collectors. My research into his collections, as well as my observations of the dynamics inherent to a museum’s exhibition project team, inspired several of the characters and scenes in my second book, The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery

My work as a collection researcher for an exhibition of Bispoles at Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum directly inspired my current work-in-progress, the third book in the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series. During my search through photographs and film fragments of Asmat tribes, missionaries and anthropologists working in Papua New Guinea during the 1950s and 1960s, I discovered that a well-known Dutch missionary – Reverend Gerald Zegwaard – was one of the last people to see Michael Rockefeller alive. During their meeting they’d made an appointment to meet up after Rockefeller returned from an acquisition trip upriver. The young American disappeared days later, resulting in one of the most famous unsolved mysteries of our time. That little detail about his un-kept appointment with Reverend Zegwaard stuck with me and eventually inspired me to write my next art mystery, about missionaries, anthropologists and Bispoles. If all goes well, it will be released in the summer of 2017.

Find out more about Jennifer and her books at http://www.jennifersalderson.com.

 

 

 

 

Before They Were Authors: Dawn Barclay

I was introduced to Dawn Barclay through  Mystery Thriller Week, an initiative to support authors by promoting their books.

Dawn’s debut novel, written under the pseudonym of D.M. Barr, is Expired Listings. Before we find out what Dawn did before becoming an author, here’s a bit about her book:

Someone is ‘deactivating’ the Realtors in Rock Canyon and almost no one seems to care. Not the surviving brokers, who consider the serial killings a competitive boon. Not the town’s residents, who see the murders as a public service. In fact, the only person who’s even somewhat alarmed is Dana Black, a kinky, sharp-witted yet emotionally skittish Realtor who has no alibi for the crimes because during each, she was using her empty listings for games like Bondage Bingo with her sadistic lover, Dare. And yet, mysteriously, all clues are pointing her way.

Judy: What was the best job (besides being a writer) that you ever had, and how has it influenced your writing?

Dawn: All of my previous jobs involved communications and sales & marketing which is probably why I enjoy promoting my book as much as writing it. I loved working as a reporter and editor at Travel Agent Magazine because I was around erudite people, but since that involved writing, I’ll skip that. I loved working in Sales, Marketing and Public Relations for Barclay International Group (short-term apartments and villas around the world) because I grew the company from nothing to a major player during its time, and I also got to host press trips with amazing people who went on to write articles about the company in Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Diversion, etc.

Judy: What was the funniest thing that ever happened to you at work?

Dawn: The one time I let down my hair on a press trip (I was working as a travel writer), I stayed out late and drank and had a great time. When the reporter from a major NY paper filed *his* story, I discovered he had alluded to my entire night of semi-debauchery for all the world to read.

Judy: What made you decide to become a writer?

Dawn: I LOVE being read. It’s probably why I spent years writing for magazines at minimum wage. I remember back in the fifth grade, I had read Harriet the Spy (one of my favorite books!) and everyone was writing slam books where we wrote down what we really felt about other people. Someone stole mine and I grabbed it back and ripped it up…and then helped them piece it back together so they could read what I had written!

Judy: Tell us a bit about yourself and where we can find out more about you.

Dawn: My background includes stints in corporate communications, marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations and real estate. I was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. Now they’re off doing whatever it is they do (who knows, they won’t friend me on Facebook) and I can spend my spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles my fancy. My first novel, Expired Listings, can be found at http://www.expiredlistingsnovel.com.