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 The mystery begins in WOLF: Jessica’s philosophy professor is found dead, the murder weapon turns out to be a campus date-rape drug–and Jessica could be the next target. She teams up with mafia heir Dmitry Durchenkov to wrangle mobsters, match wits with a trio of feminist avengers, and lasso frat boys in order to rope in a murderer who’s read too much Existentialism–and who has just found a new victim.

Jessica’s adventures continue in Book 2, COYOTE (August 2016), when she travels to a Blackfoot reservation and joins forces with Kimi Redfox to expose sex trafficking, prostitution rings, and murder schemes involving the biggest frackers in the country.


  1. What initially got you interested in writing?


Of course, as a philosophy professor, I’m expected to write. I’ve written a lot of nonfiction books on various subjects from film noir to animal ethics. When I discovered writing after graduate school when I could write whatever I wanted, it was liberating. It gave my life a new meaning. For the last twenty years, I’ve written philosophy and nonfiction, and until lately it was very satisfying. But, a few years ago, writing philosophy started feeling a little routine.  Anyway, I’d always wanted to write fiction. The trouble was, for decades I’d been trained to get right to the point and hit readers over the head with my thesis.  With mystery, you have to do the opposite and hide the point, meander along, and create suspense.


I got the courage to switch from writing nonfiction to fiction after attending a Killer Nashville Mystery Writers’ Conference. The 2014 convention gave me just enough ammunition to make me dangerous. I wrote the first draft of Wolf in two months and spent the next two years editing it. During that same time, I also wrote Coyote, and alternated between editing one and then the other. During this same time, I wrote my last nonfiction book, Hunting Girls, too. So, I’ve been busy!


For decades, I’ve relied on nonfiction writing to keep me sane. Now, writing novels, I find even more pleasure in inventing characters and whole worlds. But, like everything fun that’s worth doing, it’s also hard work! And when you’re determined to finish that next novel, you can get saddle sores… not to mention cramps in your fingers.


  1. What genres do you write in?

As I mentioned, I write a lot of nonfiction books and they’re all on Amazon. Right now, I’m working on a nonfiction book on The Refugee Today. And, my most recent nonfiction book is Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape. Obviously, some of the issues in this book come up in my fiction, too.  I got the idea for this book when I noticed so many popular young adult books and films featured tough girls hunting animals. I ended up interpreting YA books such as Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Divergent as contemporary versions of classic fairytales Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. If you want to know what this has to do with campus rape, check out the book!


And, of course, I write mystery novels. I plan to continue writing the Jessica James Cowgirl Philosopher Mysteries as long as folks want to read them.  The third in the series will take Jessica back to Chicago where she’ll infiltrate an Ivy League egg harvesting black market ring operating out of the medical school. I hope to finish the nonfiction book over the summer and then turn my full attention back to Jessica and finish the next cowgirl philosopher mystery in the fall.


I’d also like to try my hand at more literary fiction, eventually.




  1. What drew you to writing these specific genres?

At first, I thought I’d never be able to write fiction because I’d always been too much of a straight shooter in my non-fiction writing.  Then I realized, the reason I was attracted to philosophy in the first place was it was like being a detective, reading confusing stuff and trying to piece together its meaning from various clues—like trying to figure out the meaning of life!  So in that regard, maybe writing philosophy isn’t such a far cry from writing detective novels.  Both are about following the breadcrumbs to see where they lead.




  1. How did you break into the field?

Hopefully, I’m just breaking in!


  1. What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?


A lot of my nonfiction work has dealt with important contemporary women’s issues. And, for my fiction, I’ve done a lot of research, and much of it has been very depressing. I hate to say it as a self-professed feminist, but I’ve found the stereotype of the overly serious feminist with no sense of humor is occasionally true. It is important to have a sense of humor about serious issues, not just in order to live with them and live through them, but also to read and write about them—at least for me.  Humor and comedy allow us to face and process difficult issues that we might otherwise avoid or deny.  A heavy hand is not going to be able to bring these issues to light and reach as many readers as a comic touch, so I sweeten the pot with humor and wit even as I take on issues of date-rape, human trafficking, and in the next installment….the hidden world of IVF and egg harvesting.


I like a good feminist revenge strong on plot and even stronger on character.  In my novels, I want to create strong women characters who can take care of themselves and each other. My main character, Jessica James, is a former cowgirl who not only rides and shoots with the best of them, but also quotes Nietzsche and is the queen of witty comebacks. Her best friend, Lolita Durchenko, may be a Russian beauty running a high stake poker game that earned her the knick-name “the poker Tsarina,” but she’s also a black-belt in karate and doesn’t take shit from anybody.  Then there’s a whole host of fun and funny secondary characters like Amber Bush, the rescue-remedy dropping hippy hacker from WOLF or Madge Blackthorn, the Blackfoot tribal police chief who keeps a big bag of candy in her squad car, which she distributes liberally, along with slugs from her Beretta Storm shotgun.



  1. What do you find most rewarding about writing?

I love writing! It gives meaning to my life and helps me cope with the difficulties and pain of life. I really don’t know what I would do without it.


  1. What do you find most challenging about writing?

Finding a position to write in that doesn’t hurt my body!  I can’t sit at a desk any more or my shoulders hurt. I tried standing for a couple of years, but then my feet hurt. And now I slump in an easy chair, which isn’t so great for my back!  Other than the physical discomfort, there’s that final push when you’re half way done and still have another hundred plus pages to go. Oh, and then there’s trying to type without disturbing the cat on my lap!


  1. What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?

Plan on doing a lot of hard work and write every day. I find it best to save the mornings for writing, even an hour or two goes a long way, if you do it every day.



  1. What type of books do you enjoy reading?

I like all sorts of books: Mysteries, of course, but also chick lit, literary fiction, classics, and then philosophy.



  1. Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?


I love to x-country ski and hike. And I miss the mountains every single day. Nashville is pretty flat compared to where I come from.


  1. What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?


Check out my website at, or email me at


KELLY OLIVER is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University and well-known feminist philosopher. She is the author of thirteen scholarly books, ten anthologies, and over 100 articles. Her work has been translated into seven languages, and she has been featured in the The New York Times and on ABC television news. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.





A Guilty Mind

A Detective Cancini Mystery

Book One

K.L. Murphy


On-Sale 6/14/2016


ISBN: 9780062491626


Genre: Crime Mystery, Mystery and Detective / Police Procedural


Publisher: Witness Impulse, an imprint of HarperCollins


About the Book:


Accused of murdering his psychiatrist, a broken man must face his horrific past in order to protect his future.


George Vandenberg is a drunk with a volatile temper, haunted by the memory of the young woman he once loved and tragically lost. Wrestling with his guilt and pushed by his psychiatrist to confess his role in her death, he teeters on the edge of a nervous breakdown, blacking out drunk more often than not.


But when his doctor turns up dead, brutally stabbed to death in his office, George has nowhere left to turn. Stunned and confused, George emerges as the primary suspect in an investigation led by Detective Mike Cancini, a D.C. cop who knows all too well how far a man can go when he’s pushed.


To prove his innocence, George must face the police, his manipulative wife, and the shell of a man he’s become. But as much as George wants to forget his history, the past is not done with him…




Stay of Execution

A Detective Cancini Mystery

Book Two

K.L. Murphy


On-Sale 6/28/2016


ISBN: 9780062491619


Genre: Crime Mystery, Mystery and Detective / Police Procedural


Publisher: Witness Impulse, an imprint of HarperCollins


Perfect for fans of Making a Murderer, a novel about a man exonerated of heinous crimes returning to a town that can’t let go of his bloody legacy.


About the Book:

Little Springs was just a small college town, the kind of place where everyone knew everyone and crime was virtually nonexistent—until a series of rapes and murders at the college shook the community to its core. Only the arrest and conviction of Leo Spradlin, the “Coed Killer,” could end the terror.


Years later, Spradlin is suddenly cleared based on unshakable DNA evidence, and no one is more surprised than Detective Mike Cancini. As new questions arise about the true identity of the murderer, Cancini struggles to accept his role in the conviction of an innocent man.


But when the attacks begin again, Cancini is not the only one who worries a mistake has been made. Cancini is drawn back to Little Springs, caught in a race against time to uncover the real “Coed Killer” before the next girl dies…

guilty_mindButton 300 x 225


What initially got you interested in writing?

Reading great books! Like most writers, I was always reading as a child. I read every Nancy Drew book and loved the Little House on the Prairie series. I still have most of those books, too! As a teen, I read everything Stephen King had written to that point. I also read historical romance which is probably not odd for a teenaged girl, but is odd when you’re also reading CARRIE, THE STAND, and SALEM’S LOT. Either way, a love of reading is what led me to want to tell my own stories.


What genres do you write in?

I write mysteries and thrillers with what my editor calls “morally ambiguous characters”. I think I’m drawn to characters who are not all good or all bad (even the villains) because I believe that’s real life. While there are certainly truly evil people in the world, most criminals have good qualities as well and the good guys come with plenty of flaws, too.

What drew you to writing these specific genres?

I don’t know what this says about me (because I read most genres), but all the stories in my head seem to revolve around murder and mayhem. It just feels natural.

How did you break into the field?

I broke into writing slowly and over many years. I left a career in banking when I had children. While I was home with them, I began freelance writing for regional magazines about kids, restaurants, and local interests. On the side, I wrote short stories which I occasionally submitted to contests. All the while, I knew I wanted to write mysteries and thrillers—it just took a little while to get there!

What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?

First and foremost, I want readers to be entertained—to escape for just a little while—when they read my books. I would also love them to connect with the story and characters and stay up to read “just one more chapter.” Finally, I hope they like Cancini as much as I do and want to read what he’s up to next.

What do you find most rewarding about writing?

For me, the most rewarding thing about writing is creating something from beginning to end. I usually have the bare bones of the story—how it begins and how it ends—in my head when I first sit down at the computer. It may take months (or years) of hard work to build before I type “The End”, but it’s the only job I’d wish for. I love it!

What do you find most challenging about writing?

The most challenging thing about writing is finding the time. Some writers are prolific and some are slow. Although I would say I fall somewhere in between, I rarely have a day where I can do nothing but write for eight hours. In addition, while finishing the first draft is a great feeling, the work doesn’t end there. Between editing, revisions, promotion, freelance projects, and social media, I struggle to block off those large chunks of time devoted only to writing.

What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?

My advice to aspiring authors would be to do extensive research. There are so many resources today on how to be a better writer, achieve success in your genre, publishing industry trends, and how to market your work. Learn as much as you can and keep learning. I also think it’s important to be honest with yourself about your goals. Do you want to write multiple books? Do you want your writing to be more than a hobby? Is this something you want to do long-term? I believe asking those questions and learning the industry are the best ways to navigate the field.

What type of books do you enjoy reading?

I enjoy most anything although I don’t usually read a great deal of romance. Because I was travelling last month, I got the opportunity to catch up on some of the new novels by my fellow Witness authors LS Hawker and Eric Rickstad (loved them both!). I also read books by John Gilstrap (a great thriller writer), Lisa Unger, and Karin Slaughter. Are you seeing a trend? Normally, I do read a variety of books and earlier this year, I also read Jonathan Franzen and Anthony Doerr and I’m looking forward to the new Liane Moriarty.

Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?

I’m obsessed with cooking competition shows. I love to watch Food Network Star, Chopped, Master Chef, Beat Bobby Flay, etc. I’m also incredibly amazed and impressed when they show the kid versions. Those kids know so much more than I do!


What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?

The best way to connect with me is to visit my website at I will always respond to any reader who wants to contact me through my website. I also have a VERY occasional newsletter that readers can link to and sign up for on that site.



About the Author:


K.L. MURPHY was born in Key West, Florida, the eldest of four children in a military family. She has worked as a freelance writer for several regional publications in Virginia, and is the author of A Guilty Mind and Stay of Execution. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, four children, and two very large, very hairy dogs. She is currently working on her next novel, The Last Sin.


To learn more about the Detective Cancini Mystery series or future projects, visit


Subscribe to her newsletter









The Reporter’s Story

Available June 16, 2016

A house burglary in 1912 San Francisco that the victim denies happening piques Emma Matheson’s reporter instincts. Why would a businessman deny that recovered loot was his and forego collecting his $8,000 worth of stolen jewelry? Why did he fire his maid and butler who originally reported the theft? The more she pursues the burglary that wasn’t a burglary, the more she sees it as a major story, involving murder, intrigue, and smuggling. Can she solve it and write the story that could project her to become the world-famous reporter she so covets? Or will she become one of its victims?


Landscape for Murder

A friend’s murder. An unconnected cast of suspects, including the victim’s missing adult daughter. As if that wasn’t enough, Brynn Bancroft’s winery has been broken into. Can she deal with her co-owner ex and help the police find her friend’s murder so she can finally overcome her own troubled past and enjoy family life with her teenage ward?




What initially got you interested in writing?

Throughout my career as a public relations professional, I always found the writing part of the job therapeutic. Maybe because in a world of constant interruptions and multiple changes it was something I could almost control. However, I became interested in writing fiction when, following a layoff, for the first time in my life I could not find a new job. So in 2009, at the suggestion of my late husband, I turned to writing fiction. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it – now I get to create my own characters and plot. And I’ve written seven novels since then. Oh, it was such fun!


What genres do you write in?

I write contemporary and historical mysteries, which all take place in California. My contemporary mysteries are inspired by real criminal cases; and my historical mysteries are based on the lives of actual persons.


What drew you to writing these specific genres?

I write mysteries because I read mysteries. Since my first Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie mysteries to the latest John Grisham legal thriller, I have enjoyed figuring out the puzzles no matter how many red herrings are thrown at me. So when it came time for me to write, it was all about creating a sleuth who could peel back those red herrings and find a solution to the puzzle.


I also thrive on learning how people lived in the past, which led me to write historical mysteries, including my most recent book, The Reporter’s Story, to be released June 16. What fun it was to research the lives of reporters in 1912 San Francisco and then entangle my protagonist in the issues of her time to slow her down as she tried to solve a burglary that wasn’t a burglary.


How did you break into the field?

I am impatient. I could never have succeeded in the traditional publishing world. It just takes too long to get a book published. I have benefitted from the arrival of Amazon and e-books, which enabled independent publishing. In addition, I received assistance and continue to receive assistance from the World Literary Café (WLC at, founded by author Melissa Foster, where I learned about marketing through social media and found vetted editors, cover designers, and proof-readers at reasonable prices. In addition, I learned much about the business and art of writing at the annual La Jolla Writer’s Conference ( And I had tremendous support from family and friends.

What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?

Above all, I want readers to care about my characters and be entertained as they enjoy solving the mystery along with my amateur sleuths. Sometimes my characters have an issue they want to mention, but on the whole my books are about departing reality and entering a fictional world of mystery.


What do you find most rewarding about writing?

I enjoy the process of conceiving a plot, figuring out the scenes to get from the crime to its solution, and giving the characters their. But in the end, there’s nothing more rewarding than holding the finished book in my hands with its awesome cover and printed pages.


What do you find most challenging about writing?

For me I find two challenges that continue to plague me: first, I have difficulty ending my stories. I tend to want to conclude my mysteries in the manner of Miss Christie’s Hercule Poirot by inviting the reader into my last chapter parlor as I offer an explanation of the puzzle. Second, for my historical mysteries especially, I become fascinated with the research and find I want to include interesting tidbits of history that result in my editor’s red ink and cutting 5,000 words in The Reporter’s Story. When I read, I do enjoy back story, but I respect my editor’s advice that too much does get in the way of the mystery.


What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?

First, if you want to write, just do it. Remember the first draft is just that, a first draft. It’s intended to be edited. But completing it is an important first step. (I typically write at least six drafts.) And do make sure to have a professional editor and book cover designer. Especially if you publish yourself, your cover is important to introduce your work. And listen to your editors but still be true to your story. And don’t forget proof-reading. If someone is paying for your book, they deserve it to be error-as-free-as-possible.


What type of books do you enjoy reading?

I read all kinds of mysteries and thrillers, by authors such as John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark, Stieg Larsson, Michael Connelly, Erik Larson, and Linwood Barclay. However, my most favorite novel is James Clavell’s Shogun, which puts me in the middle of medieval Japan and the intricate chess-like moves of the characters.


Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?

“Interesting” is somewhat subjective but I do enjoy using my writing skills to help promote the fast-growing wine region of the Ramona Valley near San Diego. We now have more than 30 wineries with tasting rooms for award-winning wines. And my most favorite entertainment is going to live theater, particularly Broadway musicals.


What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?

The best place to connect is my web page along with Facebook, Amazon author page, and Goodreads—and following me on Twitter.


Web page:

Twitter: @joycetstrand






Joyce T. Strand is the author of who-done-it contemporary and historical mysteries set in California. Upon release of The Reporter’s Story on June 16, 2106, all of her seven novels are inspired by actual events and/or real people, although they are definitely fictionalized.


Her first three contemporary mysteries feature protagonist Jillian Hillcrest, a public relations executive who encounters murder and mayhem at her Silicon Valley company. Jillian’s boss, Brynn Bancroft, solves the next two mysteries when she leaves her position as Chief Financial Officer to run a winery in Sonoma County near San Francisco.


In Strand’s first historical mystery, a Superior Court Judge strives to discover the truth behind the mystery of a robbery-murder in a small California town in 1939. In her newest mystery, The Reporter’s Story, a house burglary in 1912 San Francisco piques a young reporter’s instincts that leads to intrigue and murder.


Strand headed corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in California’s Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike her character Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder in her career. Strand lives with her collection of cow statuary in Southern California, and enjoys exploring and writing about the fast-growing wine region in the Ramona Valley near San Diego.


BEYOND THE SHELF – Adapting Cozy Mysteries for the Screen


BEYOND THE SHELF is the umbrella heading for commentaries written by PULP AND MYSTERY SHELF site administrator Shannon Muir. No promotional consideration is given in regard to profiling people, organizations, or products here unless expressly specified. This information given by requirements of the Federal Trade Commission.

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