Who would ever think that rummaging through garages, bazaars and thrift shops would spark an idea for a mystery thriller? Well, that’s just what it did for author Suzi Weinert.
Although enjoying country life in Locust Grove, Virginia, she has made the annual trek to sunny Naples for 17 years.
“It turns out that homes in two places is similar to living two lives – double the surroundings, stimulation, friends, cultural opportunities and recreational fun. And, once your winter-bound contacts know you are in Florida, there are lots of guests, which doubles the adventure quotient,” Weinert said.
Growing up as an “Air Force brat,” she used those formative years’ experience as a springboard for her view of life – an exciting adventure. Later, as the wife of an Army officer, and moving 11 times in 21 years, visiting garage sales and swap meets was the protocol for non-permanent light living for Army families on the move.
In time, favoring the treasure hunt in garage and estate sales, she found the mystique inherent in the quiet abandonment of pieces that had their own history, as the one-time possessions of unknown persons.
As she mused about the stories behind the objects, the dust mixed with intrigue and worked its magic on Weinert who was inspired to pen her first work of fiction, “Garage Sale Stalker,” the first in the series of her Garage Sale mysteries that includes “Garage Sale Diamonds.”
And, with the two books made into four television movies for Hallmark Channel, it has indeed become a dream too good to imagine.
We chatted with the writer to find out more.
Press Club of Southwest Florida: What has been your most notable accomplishment?
Suzi Weinert: Married to the same gentleman for 57 years? Living to tell about raising five boisterous children? Living to the age of 80 in a world fraught with hazards? The luck of good health and brimming energy? Writing two published books? Witnessing four Hallmark TV movies based on that work? All the above.
NPC: What was the inspiration for your novels?
NPC: Where are the books available for purchase and do you self-market your books?
SW: Amazon, Kindle, Nook, Audible and available for order by any book store or from my publisher, Bluewater Press. Traditional publishers, like mine, expect authors to market books, and they are upfront about this in their presentations at writers’ conferences. Gone forever are the Ernest-Hemingway days, when you wrote a book and tossed it to your publisher to peddle while you ate grapes aboard your yacht.
NPC: What issues do you address in your books and is another planned?
SW: I am always drawn by current issues like child abuse in book one and terrorism and human trafficking in book two. My third book, “Garage Sale Riddle,” is well underway and addresses the topic of aging in America. Adding intrigue to this novel, in a garage sale, Jennifer Shannon makes a Civil War-era purchase and discovers an old riddle and map hidden inside; however, solving the riddle may cost her life.
SW: It is hard to narrow the field, but the Oz book series jump-started my imagination as a child, and Ray Bradbury’s originality and philosophy affected me growing up. Ayn Rand’s daring philosophy (“The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged”) broke new ground in her time. Dana Stabenow writes about Alaska in a compelling way, and Tony Hillerman swept me into his Southwest detective stories laced with peeks into Native American culture.
NPC: What is something people do not know about you?
SW: My strong sense of family, championed by my grandmother and parents and furthered by my natural affection for my loved ones. Family gatherings with my kids, grandkids and great-grandkids typically number 32 members. Guess who’s the cook?
NPC: What advice would you give to someone thinking about writing their first novel?
SW: Follow your bliss, work hard and don’t give up. Your view is subjective, so use a qualified objective professional to edit your work. Do not put your ego in your work; you were a whole person before you began writing and will be afterward. Listen to constructive criticism. That is how you improve.