1) Murder, Madness, and Love was previously self-published. Why did you change your mind and go with a publisher?
In the beginning I wanted to go the traditional route, and after numerous (over 100) rejections, I decided to self-publish because I wanted to give books to the family as Christmas presents. However, once I started the process, my husband convinced me I should go the full route. But self-publishing never gave me the exposure I needed for success. The books were not available in bookstores, except locally, Kindle did not support self-publishing in 2008, and I wanted national attention.
I set a goal, and I have this bad habit of needing to achieve goals. I'm very competitive. I hate being told I can't, or I'm not good enough—challenge me, I dare you.
2) You have previously spoken of three locations in the two books you have coming out. Which locations are used in Murder, Madness, and Love? Which are used in the sequel Memories of Murder? Had you been to any of these places, and why did you choose them?
Murder, Madness & Love is set in Anchorage, Alaska, Seattle, and the coast of Washington State. Memories of Murder takes place in Alaska, Washington, and a few scenes in Paris, France. The third book in the trilogy, From Obsession to Murder, is almost exclusively set in Alaska, this time I use the entire state, from Deadhorse to the Aleutian Islands.
I chose Alaska because I found it awe inspiring. I lived there 4 years and then Washington State for 17. I've never been to France, but I hope that changes soon! Research and loads of wonderful pictures took me to Dijon and Paris. I chose Alaska because my main character Detective Steven Quaid is Tlingit Indian / Irish, he's lead detective in Anchorage, and this is his story.
3) Tell us about the first sentence of Murder, Madness, and Love. How long did it take you to come up with it?
"Debra pulled up the collar of her jacket and stared out at the arctic gale battering the city."
This is the fourth first sentence. I have gone round and round with this first chapter, because it involves the first killing. One of my first critics said there was not enough action. The second said, never use the weather to begin your story, (this is also a pet peeve of agents), and the third thought I spent too many words on a character that died in the first few paragraphs. They were all right – this new sentence, says it all. Of all the chapters the first, is always the hardest to get right.
4) Did you always intend for there to be a sequel? Were there any frustrations you experienced in writing the second book?
I had no plans for a sequel, not when I wrote the first draft. When I first sent out queries to publishers, one called to say she was interested, and asked if I would consider doing a sequel. Of course, I said yes, and immediately started to formulate one. I never heard back from that publisher and was sorely disappointed; I go over and over that conversation in my mind and still don't know where I screwed it up.
That disappointment was a few years before I decided to self-publish. Once I knew where I wanted to take the story, I wrote books 2 and 3 in a matter of months, four to be exact (the first draft). And there were frustrations a plenty, especially trying to make book two as good as if not better than the first book. From the early reviews, I've done it, and now it’s a challenge to make book three even better. To have the entire trilogy published, will be a dream come true!
Thank you, Mike, for this wonderful opportunity to share my work.
Murder, Madness & Love by Yolanda Renée
To be Re-released August 19th, 2013
After a gritty detective becomes involved with a beautiful widow suspected of murder, slander and obsession obstruct his quest for justice.
A killer plays cat and mouse with a young widow against the snowy backdrop of an Alaskan winter. Branded a black widow after the suspicious death of her millionaire husband, Sarah Palmer flees Seattle for Anchorage. But the peace and quiet she hoped to enjoy in her hometown is soon shattered. The killer is murdering Sarah look-alikes on the 14th of each month, taunting Sarah with a valentine of evidence.
After her experiences in Seattle, Sarah is slow to go to the police. When she finally does, she finds Detective Steven Quaid. Called on to protect the beautiful widow from a stalker intent on her destruction, Steven is convinced he can solve Michael Palmer's murder and arrest the stalker. However, crime is never simple, and before long Sarah has Steven wound up tighter than barbed wire. Is Sarah a victim or a very skilled manipulator? With a killer on the loose and a climbing body count, Steven cannot afford to hedge his bets-or his life.