Who’s That Indie Author? N.A. Granger


Author name:  N.A. Granger (Noelle)

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Books:  The Rhe Brewster Mystery Series: Death in a Mudflat; Death by Pumpkin; Death in a Dacron Sail; Death in a Red Canvas Chair


Bio:  N.A. GRANGER is a Professor Emerita at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. After forty years of research and teaching undergraduates and medical students, plus earning her EMT license, she decided to use her knowledge of human anatomy and emergency medicine in mystery writing. In addition to the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series, she has written for Coastal Living and Sea Level magazines and several times for the Bella Online Literary Review. Her latest mystery, Death in a Mudflat, was released in June of this year. You can find more of her writing and musings on her website: saylingaway.wordpress.com. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband and a Maine coon cat who blogs, and she spends a portion of every summer in Maine, researching for her books and selling them, too.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  Using my little gray cells! I’m a pantser – I just sit down and write – and one of the best parts of the day is going back and reading, sometimes with a “where-the-heck-did-that-come-from?” – what I’ve written that day.  A close second is having someone tell me they love my books!

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Marketing and publicity. I’ve done all the suggested tried and true things and also used publicity firms. I’m not sure they were worth the cost for the outcome. I think I’ll just pound the pavements, going to Indie bookstores and seeking readings on my own, and push the email, twitter and blogging. What’s unfortunate is that M&P are no fun!

Favorite books:  This is challenging. A sampling: books by P.D. James (one of my favorite mystery authors), Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth, Tolkien’s The Ring Trilogy, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Sarah Orne Jewell’s Country of the Pointed Firs.

Contact Information: Email: sailingawayng@gmail.com
Blog: saylingaway.wordpress.com
Twitter: @rhebrewster
Facebook: Noelle A. Granger
Amazon: N.A. Granger

Awards/special recognition:  Mmm. I won second place in the Bloggers Bash writing contest in 2017 – my first time winning anything…

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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Empire Falls by Richard Russo

empire falls pic

Empire Falls
Richard Russo


Empire Falls is a great novel with many layers and characters and that’s just the kind of story I like to read. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2002 and HBO made it into a miniseries in 2005 (check it out here). I read it much later than most people, but I think the story and characters survive the time.

Its first layer is about Empire Falls, Maine, a town that is struggling to survive and is controlled by Francine Whiting, of the once-strong Whiting Industries. This backdrop introduces you to those who have chosen to stay and they make up many of Russo’s subsequent interconnecting layers. We learn about Miles Roby, his failed marriage to Janine and his own parents’ unhappy marriage. We meet Janine’s fiancé, Walt Comeau, and try to understand the new life she is about to begin. And later on we see how Miles struggles to understand his mother Grace and the choices she made as a young woman.

But this story is also about Miles and Janine’s high school daughter Tick, her friends Zack Minty, Candace and especially John Voss and these intense teenage relationships and conflicts. Russo has skillfully introduced this sleeper plot and we see how it slowly moves the story to its climax. I also like how Russo includes many other side characters, such as Jimmy Minty, Otto Meyer, Miles’ brother David, Charlene and Father Mark and develops them so we know that their lives are just as complicated, and are key parts of the story.

In addition to an excellent plot that is carefully constructed and both serious and humorous, this story is about the control of money and people, survival and the search for happiness. And on top of that, many of Russo’s characters struggle to understand the meaning of life and religion as they face both painful memories and discoveries.

There are many seemingly small pieces of conversations that, upon a second look, show how much thought went into writing Empire Falls. For example, Russo shows just how complicated father-son relationships are as he parallels Miles and Max with Jimmy Minty and his father. Both Miles and Jimmy hang onto their fathers, despite their flaws. Jimmy says, “He did slap my mom around a little…But I miss him anyway. You only get one father, is the way I look at it.” Later Miles tries to explain to David why he keeps giving their own father a second chance: “He’s pretty good at getting to me. I guess I don’t want to be sold short when I’m old.”

I think my favorite scene is when Jimmy Minty and Miles argue at the football game. Russo shows so well just how someone who is as unsophisticated as Jimmy still has excellent insight into people. Jimmy says, “You’re not the only one people like, okay? And I’ll tell you something else. What people around here like best about me? They like it that they’re more like me than they are like you. They look at me and they see the town they grew up in…You know what they see when they look at you? That they ain’t good enough. They look at you and see everything they ever done wrong in their lives.”

I also think Miles’ relationship with Cindy Whiting is very interesting and was glad to see how Cindy’s character developed from someone pathetic and needy into someone strong and independent. She’s also an example of a character we think is less significant, but who comes up with something important to say. She tells Miles, “It’s like you decided a long time ago that someone like me is incapable of joy…It doesn’t occur to you that I might be happy.”

The Whiting family dynamics and history are also very interesting and amusing and Russo has a different style of describing these people, using irony and a cold kind of humor. I liked this part just as much, particularly the story of Francine’s gazebo.

Empire Falls has a tidy and satisfying ending, with just enough open story lines to make me hopeful about the characters and their futures.

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Olive Kitteridge the Miniseries

olive kitteridge miniseries
Here’s an excellent miniseries that perfectly portrays the characters in Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of stories about the difficult and misunderstood Olive Kitteridge and her relationships with the people in Crosby, Maine.  I had been looking forward for a long time to watch the HBO miniseries.  I liked it so much, I went on an Olive Kitteridge binge:  I re-read the book, then watched the series a second time!

The 2014 HBO miniseries was directed by Lisa Cholodenko and written by Jane Anderson.  It was named Outstanding Limited Series at the 2015 Emmys.  Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins and Bill Murray each won Emmys for their performances.

All the actors “get” their characters.  Frances McDormand is outstanding as Olive.  Richard Jenkins plays a terrific Henry and John Gallagher, Jr. is perfect as Christopher.  I wondered how Bill Murray would be as Jack Kennison.  All my memories of his SNL performances and film comedy made me worry he’d be too silly.  But while there is a hint of humor in Kennison’s character, Murray is great in this role.  McDormand and Murray have a refreshing dynamic between them, in a story that is often serious and dark.

The filming is also excellent, giving the scenes an authentic New England feel.  Cholodenko and Anderson also keep much of the dialogue from the book, which makes the miniseries a great companion piece to Strout’s stories.  And while the miniseries features only a few of the stories, Choldenko includes many details from the others to make it whole.

I highly recommend this miniseries.

If you’re wondering about the cast, here are a few details.  Thanks to IMDb.com for this info and to HBO.com for the photos, from left, of McDormand, Jenkins, Gallagher, Jr., Murray and Kazan.

  Photo:  HBO.com  christopher-kitteridge-gallagher

jack-kenninson-murray  denise-thibodeaux-kazan

Frances McDormand – Olive.  McDormand has been nominated for an academy award four times for Mississippi Burning (1988), Fargo (1996 – she won Best Actress), Almost Famous (2000) and North Country (2005).

Richard Jenkins – Henry.  Jenkins is known for his movie appearances in Jack Reacher (2012), The Cabin in the Woods (2012) and Step Brothers (2008)

John Gallagher, Jr. – Christopher.  Gallagher has appeared in many television programs, including The West Wing, Law and Order:  SVU, NYPD Blue and Ed.  He played Jim Harper in The Newsroom.

Bill Murray – Jack Kennison.  Murray is well known as an award-winning TV and film actor/comedian for his appearances on Saturday Night Live and many films, including Meatballs (1979), Caddyshack (1980), Stripes (1981), Ghostbusters (1984), Scrooged (1988) and Groundhog Day (1993).  More recently, Murray has won awards for Lost in Translation (2003), Hyde Park on Hudson (2012) and Saint Vincent (2014).

Zoe Kazan – Denise.  Kazan is the daughter of screenwriters Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord and is the granddaughter of director Elia Kazan.  She received her degree in Theater from Yale University and appeared with Cynthia Nixon in a production of “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”.  Kazan made her Broadway debut as “Marie” in “Come Back Little Sheba”.

Click here to read my review of Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.

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Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

olive kitt pic
Olive Kitteridge

Elizabeth Strout


Olive Kitteridge is Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of thirteen integrated short stories about the people of Crosby, Maine, a seemingly simple town on the New England coast.  The people in Crosby trade news and gossip, but the real stories lie buried deep in the complicated and often painful family relationships that only surface behind their closed doors.

The stories span twenty-five years and focus on the town’s most complicated character, Olive Kitteridge, whose harsh and critical personality is both widely disliked and misunderstood.  Not surprisingly, Olive’s husband, Henry, the town’s pharmacist, and their son, Christopher bear the brunt of her brutal temperament.

Olive speaks her mind.  She apologizes to no one and alienates many.  But something happens over time:  the reader discovers that, while Olive has no patience for simps and ninnies, she cares very much about the emotionally vulnerable, and intervenes at crucial times, using a keen instinct.  If only she could treat Henry and Christopher this way.  Olive’s everyday interactions with her family are so unpleasant they cause deep and lasting damage.  As years pass and lives change, however, Strout offers a better look at Olive’s marriage.  The author shows glimpses of hope, renewed connections and a true understanding of a very complicated woman.

Olive Kitteridge is one of the best books I’ve ever read.  Strout takes a simple Maine town and adds layers and layers of themes, including depression, love, family, marriage, infidelity, growing old and forgiveness.  Her characters show that goodness exists right next to all the flaws and faults of human interaction.  One of my favorite things about Olive is how she works out her frustrations in the garden.  The hearty yet fragile beauty of flowers is everywhere in these stories, an excellent metaphor.  In addition to flowers, Strout includes the subtle yet prominent influence of nature and the sea in her characters’ lives. Sub-themes of religion and politics add further understanding of her characters.

While all of the thirteen stories are terrific, my favorites are “Pharmacy” in which Strout shows Henry’s lovable and caring personality, “Incoming Tide”, a story of critical human connection and “River”, a hopeful look to the future.

Olive Kitteridge is the type of book you can read more than once.  This was my second read and I enjoyed as much as the first, picking up on wonderful details about the characters and town.

This book has made it to my All-Time Top Ten List!

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Death in a Dacron Sail by N. A. Granger

Death in a Dacron Sail cover
Death in a Dacron Sail
A Rhe Brewster Mystery

N. A. Granger


When Peter Barnes finds a small finger caught in his lobster trap, Rhe Brewster is on the scene, just a short step behind her brother-in-law, Sam, Pequod’s Chief of Police. She isn’t just nosing around. She carries a badge as a special consultant to the Pequod force. Rhe has a knack for investigating and Sam knows he’s going to need his ace sleuth on the job.

It doesn’t take Rhe long to discover that the finger belongs to a young girl who’s gone missing. Some additional digging turns up two more unsolved cases and Rhe immediately senses a connection. And a fourth case, the unsolved disappearance of Rhe’s best friend nearly twenty years before, makes this investigation personal.

Death in a Dacron Sail is the second book in the Rhe Brewster Mystery series. It’s a fun mystery, despite the sober subject of child kidnappings and abuse. Set in the fictional coastal town of Pequod, Maine, it’s full of New England color and Maine personality. There are lots of shady characters to challenge your own detective talents and there’s plenty of amusing banter between Rhe and Sam and the town regulars she meets up with during her investigation. Granger’s characters drink gallons of coffee and eat all kinds of delicious baked goods and stick-to-your ribs fare from the local eateries. I think I may have gained a couple pounds trying to keep up with them!

After reading and enjoying Granger’s first book, Death in a Red Canvas Chair, I can tell you that Rhe’s character is developing nicely into something solid. This time, she is three months pregnant and can only fuel up on decaf. But that doesn’t hold her back. True to character, she acts on instinct and finds herself in a variety of dangerous situations. And tension at home with her husband, Will, complicates matters as the two of them juggle work and family time with their young son, Jack.

I enjoyed reading this entertaining mystery for a number of reasons. Granger takes you up and down a variety of roads and the story’s ultimate conclusion has plenty of action and suspense. I love the Maine setting and think the characters are just right for the town of Pequod. References to actual places and features of Maine make the town seem real. And great characters, such as Ruthie from the police station, who knows everything about everyone and the very green Agent Bowers add a nice layer to the story.

Death in a Dacron Sail is a murder mystery, but don’t worry, it’s not too violent or gruesome, something I appreciate. Granger adds a little romance to keep things interesting and there’s a little bit of extra spice in there to raise your eyebrows. It all fits into a terrific town of characters and I can only imagine what kind of trouble Rhe will find herself in next!

I received an ARC to review Death in a Dacron Sail.

Also by N.A. Granger:  Death in a Red Canvas Chair

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What’s up next? A new Rhe Brewster Mystery!

Death in a Dacron Sail coverDeath in a Dacron Sail
a Rhe Brewster Mystery

N.A. Granger

Today I started reading Death in a Dacron Sail, by N.A. Granger. It’s the second book in the Rhe Brewster Mystery series and it is set to be released on March 2..

In this story, Rhe is called in on the discovery of a small finger, caught in a lobster trap. Rhe and her brother-in-law, Sam Brewster, who is Pequod’s Chief of Police, worry it could belong to a missing child and they get to work right away. A search points to three missing children in a span of three years, and a fourth, Deirdre Dunn, who went missing more than twenty-five years ago. Deirdre was Rhe’s best friend and the memory of this tragedy makes this case personal right away.

Rhe is a relentless fact-finder, so I’m sure she won’t rest until this mystery is solved. And this time, she’s pregnant, so she’ll have to juggle that with her job as an emergency room nurse and with her role as wife and as mother to seven-year-old Jack.

Granger’s story is off to a great start – I’m looking forward to following Rhe through her newest investigation!

About the author:

Noelle Granger
Noelle Granger

I found this interesting bio on Granger‘s Amazon page.

Noelle A. Granger grew up in Plymouth, MA, in a rambling, 125 year old house with a view of the sea. Summers were spent sailing and swimming and she was one of the first tour guides at Plimoth Plantation, a museum in Plymouth.

She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a bachelor’s degree in Zoology and from Case Western Reserve University with a Ph.D. in anatomy. Following a career of research in developmental biology and teaching human anatomy to medical students and residents, the last 28 years of which were spent in the medical school of the University of North Carolina, she decided to try her hand at writing fiction.

Death in a Red Canvas Sail is her first book and features an emergency room nurse as the protagonist. The book is set in a coastal town in Maine, similar to Plymouth, and she has used her knowledge of such a small town, her experiences sailing along the Maine coast, and her medical background to enrich the story.

She has also had short stories, both fiction and non-fiction, published in Deep South Magazine, Sea Level Magazine, the Bella Online Literary Review, and Coastal Style Magazine. Her second novel in the Rhe Brewster mystery series, Death in a White Dacron Sail, was released in February 2015.

N.A. Granger lives in Chapel Hill, NC, with her husband Gene, a physician, and is the mother of two children.

Be sure to check out Granger’s blog, SaylingAway to see what else she has in the works!

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Death in a Red Canvas Chair by N. A. Granger

Death in a Red Canvas Chair

N.A. Granger


When a female body is posed at the far end of a youth soccer field, no one seems to notice. No one, that is, except Rhe Brewster, an emergency room nurse with an eye for detail and a knack for putting her nose where it doesn’t belong.

Death in a Red Canvas Chair is Noelle Granger’s debut mystery novel, the first in a series about Rhe Brewster and her adventures as an amateur detective. It’s set in the fictional town of Pequod, Maine and offers a nice backdrop of New England coastal living. I don’t read a lot of mysteries, but I do know that all mysteries follow a certain framework, and Death in a Red Canvas Chair is true to this format. Granger presents an intriguing crime, introduces some shady characters, some good guys and muddles it up with some characters you’re not too sure about.

It’s a well-organized, light and entertaining plot-driven read that invites you to solve the crime before you reach the final pages. It’s not too gory or too violent, but there’s enough action and suspense and a few rough moments to keep the story moving. And there are a couple of red herrings to mix things up a little. The author also adds a running list of what Rhe and her colleagues eat, and frequent references to coffee suggest that this mystery will be solved with a great deal of caffeine.

The author’s PhD in anatomy certainly shows, which comes in handy with the medical lingo and, being a sailor myself, I appreciated accuracy of the boat scenes. She offers some character quirkiness as well, mixed in with humor and that helps flesh out the characters and make it an enjoyable read. Marital and family conflicts also add dimension to Granger’s characters.

Death in a Red Canvas Chair is polished and tight and it’s easy to imagine Rhe Brewster becoming mired in a lot more mysteries!

Also by N.A. Granger:  Death in a Dacron Sail

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