Whatever Happened to (Name an Author)?

Have you ever enjoyed a mystery series only to have the author seemingly vanish? It’s happened to me many times.

Sometimes I discover the reason: he or she moves on to other projects or, sadly, moves on to the great beyond; work or family responsibilities take priority and mandate a hiatus from writing; publisher “issues” are all too common—I could write  countless blog posts on publisher issues; some authors start a new series under a different name.

Recently I contacted a number of these missing authors and here are some of their responses:

False ProftsPatricia Smiley wrote a very entertaining series featuring Tucker Sinclair, a business consultant and amateur sleuth. Ms. Smiley has this update:

I took a long hiatus from writing to take care of my mother. I recently finished a new book–not a Tucker Sinclair–a police procedural based on my 15 year stint as a volunteer for the LAPD. Midnight Ink just bought the manuscript with the tentative plan of publishing it next fall.

Joan Smith is a feminist, human rights activist, and author of five Loretta Lawson novels. Loretta is also a feminist, writer, and professor living in London. Ms. Smith told me “I have written another Loretta novel but it hasn’t been published.” Possibly she’s referring to Bombshell and I found an excerpt on her website. Read it here.

Stolen BlueJudith Van Gieson, author of the Claire Reynier and Neil Hamel series set in New Mexico, writes:

It has been some time since I had a book published.  I got a new editor at Signet who didn’t like mysteries and wanted me to write a thriller.  I tried but I am not a thriller writer and that was the end of the Claire Reynier series.  All thirteen of my books have recently become available as ebooks and audio books.  My Neil Hamel mystery Hotshots has been optioned by a First Nation filmmaker and former hotshot firefighter.  Now all he needs to do is raise the money to produce it.

For several years I have been helping authors self publish their books through ABQ Press

I do hope to get back to writing before too long.  We’ll see.

These authors offered online explanations for slipping below the radar:

Dorothy Simpson: Until the year 2000 Ms. Simpson penned a series of British police procedurals. On her website she explains why she stopped.

Janet L. Smith: In “The Mystery Of The Missing Mystery Writer” she tells Jim Thomsen why she decided three books were enough.

I emailed Susan Kandel, author of the Cece Caruso series. Cece loves vintage clothing and writes biographies of dead mystery authors. I tweeted Paula L. Woods, author of the Charlotte Justice series. So far I haven’t heard back from either of them. Before Ms. Woods took down her website she posted photos of her Los Angeles settings (in a pre-Pinterest world).

I have no way of contacting Jill Churchill or Karen Kijewski and there’s scant information for them online beyond their back lists.

Grave EndingsSee my previous posts about Gabrielle Kraft, Rochelle Krich, and John J. Lamb. I still have no news of these wonderful authors.

I’m delighted to have updates for five authors and would love to learn of more. Of course they are entitled to their privacy and I don’t mean to pry. But I am curious and, being a mystery writer, I have a bit of the detective in me! Regardless of their current situations or whereabouts, each of these authors has left an impressive body of work.

For bibliographies of the authors mentioned in this post—plus many more—visit the Stop, You’re Killing Me! website. SYKM is my go to site for any information on mysteries and their authors.

This 2006 post, “The Case of the Missing Writers” is similar to this one but it’s about different writers.

On December 30 I’ll post an “In Memory Of” tribute to the authors who have left us.

Happy Holidays! Be merry, be safe, and enjoy the season.

Happy Holidays

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Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Deadly Southern Charm, Death by Cupcake, and Murder by the Glass. Maggie is a member of James River Writers, International Thriller Writers, Short Mystery Fiction Society, and is a founding member of Sisters in Crime Central Virginia, where she manages the chapter’s Instagram account. In addition, she serves Sisters in Crime on the national level as a member of the Social Media team. Maggie graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a B.S. degree in Business Administration, and has worked as a software developer, customer service supervisor, and retail sales manager. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive.


Whatever Happened to (Name an Author)? — 10 Comments

  1. Dianne Vallere let me know a few weeks ago that she had spoken to Susan Kandel. Maybe you can contact her to find out more. I really like Susan’s books.

    I also liked Karen Kijewski’s books. I seem to recall that I read somewhere that she was having publisher issues. Darn. I have all her books and would love to read more.

    I also liked the teddy bear books. Would love to know why he’s not writing them anymore.

    • Shirley, thanks for your comment. I’ll ask Dianne about Susan and will publish my findings if given the go-ahead. Publisher issues seem to halt writing more than any other and some authors don’t care to venture into the world of self-publishing.

      John J. lamb used to be quite active as a speaker. He gave me good advice on creating believable interaction between an amateur sleuth and law enforcement.

  2. What an interesting post….and something I am curious about ever since years ago I fell in love with a literary author’s fiction….read her bestsellers and everything else she wrote for the next few years and before she became famous. Then, she dropped off the face of the earth. It was said she was taking a break and researching a book, but after her death it was revealed dementia had robbed her of her writing prowess.

    • Thanks, Debra. I must say I’m curious—who’s this author? I could guess but, sadly, I think there’s more than one who fits your description.

    • Bobbi, thanks for commenting. I’ve heard from many who also want these authors to come back. We can hope!

  3. What a timely post. I hurt my back and the pain killer the doctor gave me turned me into an energizer bunny instead of putting me to sleep. At 2 a.m. this morning I was pulling out books to donate to my library. I ran across so many from authors I haven’t heard from in years. Time to look them up on Amazon and see if they’ve reissued their books and written new ones.

    I don’t want to spread tales, but I live in the foothills near Sacramento and everyone always asks about Karen Kijewski at my author events. This is rumor only, but supposedly she received a lot of hate mail for one book and decided to retire. She is still one of my all time favorite authors and I hope she returns one day!

    • Cindy, thanks for responding. I just sent you a friend request. I hope your back heals quickly.

      Thanks for the update on KK. It’s been years since I read her books but I’m remembering one in which the main character’s cat was killed. I’m wondering if that’s what caused the hate mail. It upset me, espeically as it seemed unnecessary (but not to the point of sending hate mail).

  4. I’d love to know what happened to Martha Lawrence, who wrote several Elizabeth Chase mysteries, including Murder in Scorpio. Her protag was psychic. I wonder if killing off one of the main characters impacted her sales.