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A Storm of Doubts Interview and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: A Storm of Doubts

Author: JPC Allen

Genre: YA cozy mystery

Release date: March 1, 2024

Her dad said nothing could hurt their relationship. But what if he isn’t her dad?

Summer gets off to a rocky start for twenty-year-old Rae Riley when the ex-wife of family friend Jason Carlisle claims their youngest child isn’t his and Rae’s con man uncle Troy returns to Marlin County, Ohio. Rae is already at odds with her father, Sheriff Walter “Mal” Malinowski, over her desire to help people in trouble. When she extends that help to Troy and Jason’s ex-wife, Ashley, she and Mal clash even more.

Then Ashley disappears, and Jason and his brother Rick are the main suspects. As Rae and her aunt Carrie, a private investigator hired to protect Jason’s kids, work to discover what really happened to Ashley, Rae wrestles with Troy’s insinuations that she may be calling the wrong Malinowski “Dad.”


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About the Author

JPC Allen started her writing career in second grade with an homage to Scooby Doo. She’s been tracking down mysteries ever since. Her Christmas mystery “A Rose from the Ashes” was the first Rae Riley mystery and a Selah-finalist at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in 2020. Her first Rae Riley novel, A Shadow on the Snow, released in 2021. Online, she offer tips and prompts to ignite the creative spark in every kind of writer. She also leads workshops for tweens, teens and adults, encouraging them to discover the adventure of writing. Coming from a long line of Mountaineers, she’s a life-long Buckeye.


More form JPC

Readers Deserve a Reward

I may be unusual, or just plain weird, but thinking of my ending first is the common way I approach a new story. It seems to help me to know my destination before I set out on the adventure of writing a story. I can take any number of routes to reach my destination and wandering around and exploring detours is a lot of the fun of writing. But by keeping my destination in mind, I don’t get lost. Or at least, not easily.

The other thing I keep in mind about my ending is that it’s a reward for the reader. I’m relatively new to publishing and not well known. So when readers take a chance on one of my stories, I believe it’s my job to reward their risk with an atypical, satisfying ending. Now I do work hard to make the whole story satisfying with things like an attention-grabbing opening and tension-building scenes. But endings, I think, are special to readers. This is the part that lingers in their minds when they close the book–whether it’s a sense of satisfaction, like the pleased feeling you have after a delicious meal, or anger or exasperation because the ending let them down.

I work to make all parts of the ending satisfying–the climax, denouement or wrap-up, and the last lines. For the climax, readers of my mysteries deserve more thant just the good guys solving the puzzle and catching the bad guy. I plan an action-packed, suspenseful climax that has readers living the final confrontation with the main character and it resolves itself in a way that, I hope, surprises readers.

Denouements are so critical to mysteries, when the detective explains how he solved the case. But they can also be deadly dull because the explanation needs to be thorough to meet the expectations of mystery fans. So in A Storm of Doubts, I split up the explanation–a lot of it is revealed during the climax, so I don’t bore readers by piling up a discussion of the solution in one chapter.

The final scene and last lines are areas I spend a good deal of thought on. Even if this scene was my inspiration for the entire story, how it plays in my head and how it plays on the page are two very different things. I also think the last scene and lines have a certain rhythm to them, like the final bars of a song. My job is make the scene round off the story without staying too long in it.

So when you read A Storm of Doubts, I’d love to know what you think of the ending. Because you do deserve a reward.

Interview with the Author

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

As if they are my children. I’ve been fascinated with names since I was a kid when I’d look up meanings for names. If I don’t get the name of a character right, often the character just won’t work in the story. I chose “Rae” for my main character because I liked the idea of a masculine name for a girl but one that wasn’t weird. It’s also a plain, practical name, like Rae herself. I gave her the last name “Riley” because alliterative names are easy to remember.

Naming Rae’s dad prompted more characters. I liked the idea of everybody in the county calling Rae’s dad, the local sheriff, by a nickname. It would give the story the small town vibe I wanted. I picked Malinowski as his last name and decided Mal would be his nickname. But then I started thinking. Why did he go by Mal instead of his first name? Probably because he hated it. What name would a Gen X guy hate? I decided Walter would fit the bill. But why was he named Walter? Readers meet his mother, and she’s a perfectly nice woman. So it had to be a family name, and I christened him Walter R. Malinowski IV. That started a new train of thought. Who had been the Third? The Second? Now I had new characters, a family tree, and a whole ton of backstory.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

The first scene. Beginnings are always hard for me. I usually think of the climax and denouement first when I start to plot a story. But how to kick things off in an intriguing way always freezes my pen over the paper. My problem with STORM was that I let the opinions of a few reviewers block me. Some readers said I had a lot of characters. I spent at least a month not writing, trying to figure out a way to plot without as many characters. I finally decided that using a lot of characters was my style and included family trees and a roster of characters at the front of the book to help readers.

  1. What is your favorite childhood book?

I read a lot as a kid, but I’ll go with the McBroom series by Sid Fleischman. These are longer picture books about a family of 11 kids who live on a magical 1-acre farm and about all the fantastic things that happen to them. The dad narrates the stories in a dialect that sounds a lot like how my grandparents, who lived in West Virginia, talked. So as a kid, I quickly connected to the stories.

  1. What comes first, the plot or characters?

For me, it’s always characters. I get to know my major characters inside and out, seeing them in my mind as clearly as friends and family. Once I know their personalities and motivations, then plots begin to pop up.

  1. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

We live in the country on a quiet road that winds along a river. I love biking along our road, thinking and plotting, because I don’t have to worry about traffic. I also love to bake. My whole family hikes, and we like to take vacations where we can do day hikes. I’m also a movie fan, especially movies made between the 1930’s and the 1960’s.

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To celebrate her tour, JPC is giving away the grand prize package of all four books in the Rae Riley mystery series, a $25 Amazon gift card, and an Ohio tumbler with lid filled with buckeye candies!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.