Mystery writers come to WoodburyMinnesota mystery writers Marilyn Jax, of Minnetonka, and Jim Proebstle, of Leech Lake, will be at the Woodbury Barnes and Noble Aug. 12 to sign copies of their books and speak about their careers.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Mystery and intrigue will be coming to Woodbury in the form of a mystery writers book tour.
Minnesota mystery writers Marilyn Jax, of Minnetonka, and Jim Proebstle, of Leech Lake, will be at the Woodbury Barnes and Noble Aug. 12 to sign copies of their books and speak about their careers.
“The goal of the event is to provide an opportunity for passionate mystery readers to meet two mystery authors and ask the questions they have been eager to ask about the ins and outs of mystery writing,” Jax said.
Jax will be promoting her third book, “Sapphire Trails,” which will be released this month.
“Sapphire Trails” is about the investigative duo of Claire Caswell and Gaston “Guy” Lombard who travel to a lodge in Montana when they find themselves in the middle of a cold-blooded murder. The duo is called upon by the local sheriff to help solve the crime.
Proebstle will be promoting his most recent novel, “Fatal Incident,” a World War II conspiracy based on the real-life mystery surrounding the crash of a plane carrying 20 Minnesotans who were heading home on leave from the war.
“With writers at our level, we’re not household names,” Proebstle said. “The goal of the book tour is just to continue to make headway to get people to be aware of our work.
“We’ll sell a few books along the way, but it’s a broader package.”
Finding mystery in life
Jax, who splits her time between the Twin Cities, the Caribbean, Miami and Montana, worked for nearly two decades as a senior government enforcement investigator for the state of Minnesota, so she always had a natural fascination with conspiracy, intrigue and mystery.
“As you can imagine, I saw and heard many fascinating things over the years,” she said. “I always dreamed about writing mysteries one day.”
However, Jax’s love of mysteries started much earlier in life.
“As a young girl, I was hooked on Nancy Drew mysteries,” she said. “Solving a good mystery – putting the puzzle pieces together – holds my rapt attention, and similarly readers of that genre are searching for the same experience.”
Jax released her first novel, “The Find,” in 2007, which has received six book awards including the 2008 Indie Excellence Award.
Jax’s second novel, “Road to Omalos,” was released in 2010 and has received several book awards including the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Mystery/Suspense of 2011 and the International Book Award for Best Fiction Thriller/Adventure of 2011.
Currently Jax is working on her fourth book, “Never in Ink.”
In writing her novels, Jax said she often turns to her extensive traveling for inspiration.
“Wherever I go, I see mystery,” she said. “I try to notice everything around me.
“My books are a culmination of a variety of things coming at me from all directions in my life.”
Jax said her favorite part of writing is getting lost in her stories.
“I give my creative imagination full reign and follow it wherever it takes me,” she said. “I love creating haunting characters – especially the bad guys where the sky is truly the limit.
“My goal in writing is to write mysteries that readers cannot put down – books they will remember long after they read the final page.”
Building a story through characters
Proebstle, who has a permanent residence in Deer Creek, Ill., but spends four months of the year in northern Minnesota, said he always wrote in some form throughout his life, such as business writing, but writing mystery novels came about later in life for him.
He published his first book, “In the Absence of Honor,” in 2008.
Proebstle was a finalist in the 2009 Eric Hoffer Awards for “In the Absence of Honor,” in the commercial fiction category, a nominee in the 2009 Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards for the fiction category and a finalist in the 2010 National Indie Excellence Awards for the mystery/suspense category.
“I like to tell stories,” he said. “I was encouraged to put the stories into a written form.”
Proebstle’s second novel, “Fatal Incident,” was released in 2011 and has received several awards as well.
“Both novels are anchored in Minnesota history with Minnesota characters,” he said. “Both have seemed to have captured the imaginations of the readers.”
Proebstle describes his mysteries as more conspiracy and suspense stories.
“I don’t really go for the traditional formula mystery,” he said.
Proebstle said he tends to look for inspiration in everyday life.
“I like to find stories that are anchored in the real world and turn them into a mystery,” he said. “There’s always a story everywhere, you just have to pay attention.”
Proebstle said he likes to write books that are very character-driven; in fact he often spends time developing characters before developing the plot.
“I enjoy building characters and making those characters come alive on a piece of paper – they kind of take over a little bit sometimes,” he said. “What I like most is the way you can develop the characters that really bring the mystery alive – those characters help you write the book.”
Two authors for one
The idea for the mystery writers tour developed after Jax and Proebstle frequently ran into each other at book events.
“We kind of thought doing something together might be interesting for mystery readers,” Proebstle said. “There is a little bit more energy when you have two authors together.”
Both Proebstle and Jax said they are eager to engage with readers.
“Book-signing events are always fun,” Proebstle said. “Lots of people love going to bookstores to look at books – it’s kind of a way to get away from their day.”
Mystery writers Marilyn Jax and Jim Proebstle will be at the Woodbury Barnes and Noble Aug. 12 11 a.m.to 1 p.m.