February 5, 2012

Author Q&A: Married couple by day, mystery writers by night

Husband-and-wife team John C. Sheldon and Gayle Lynds collaborated on a story in the new 'A Study in Sherlock' mystery anthology.

By TOM ATWELL

John C. Sheldon and Gayle Lynds met on Facebook, which not only resulted in them getting married but also collaborating on a story in "A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon."

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

Gayle Lynds and John C. Sheldon in their backhoe.

The book ($15 in trade paperback from Bantam Books) was edited by Laurie R. King, author of "The Beekeeper's Apprentice" and other books featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, and Leslie S. Klinger, editor of "The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes." The stories are by such noted authors as Dana Stabenow, author of the best-selling Alaska-based Kate Shugak series, and Edgar Award winners Thomas Perry and Jan Burke.

Lynds is the author of nine spy thrillers published by St. Martin's Press. Her latest book, "The Book of Spies," kicks off a series featuring the characters Judd Ryder and Eva Blake in a search for Ivan the Terrible's Library of Gold.

Although originally from New Jersey, Sheldon took a job as a prosecutor in Franklin County so he could be close to the skiing at Sugarloaf. After working as a prosecutor, he went into private practice in Farmington and became a district court judge. He now works as a mediator and arbiter, and writes for legal journals.

Sheldon and Lynds are collaborating on another story, while Lynds is writing her next novel. 

Q: How did you get selected for this book?

A: LYNDS: I often receive invitations to be in anthologies. Laurie King and Les Klinger got in touch with me and asked if I would participate in this wonderful anthology, and I was on a deadline, so there was no way I could do it myself.

John is a great writer. He does legal essays and adds these scenes to enrich his work. So I said to John, "Would you like to do this with me, only you are going to have to do most of the work?"

SHELDON: She went on with her manuscript, and I sort of stumbled around trying to write fiction. I used the idea of a Maine judge because that is my basic background, which was helpful. So I worked like I did when I was a student in college and didn't know the answer.

I would come up with plot ideas, and we would talk about it, and she would say, "this would never work" and that "you need less dialogue and more action," so I had them driving around through Lewiston to have more action.

I would go on the computer and work on this for four or five months, and when I was done I got something like three and a half cents an hour. 

Q: How did you two meet and end up in Maine?

A: LYNDS: Oh, that is too long a story.

SHELDON: I'll take that one. I got an email one day from Facebook that Gayle Lynds wants to be your friend, so I went to Facebook and responded, "Who are you, and why do you want to be my friend?" And then she responded to me and said, "My publisher wants me to expand my readership and reach out to more people. I won't bother you anymore." I had never heard of Gayle Lynds, but I did some research and found out she had written all of these best-selling books, so I said, "I want you to bother me some more."

LYNDS: When he replied, he inadvertently posted it on Facebook, so all 1,500 of my friends and all eight of John's friends could see it. So we got a comment from John Lovell, who was John's editor at the Maine Bar Journal, and he said, "John Sheldon is a first-rate writer."  

(Continued on page 2)

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