Jennifer S. Alderson, author of Down and Out in Kathmandu and The Lover’s Portrait
Jennifer S. Alderson worked as a journalist and website developer in Seattle, Washington before trading her financial security for a backpack. After years of traveling the world, she now calls Amsterdam home. She’s the author of two novels, a travel fiction thriller set in Nepal and Thailand, Down and Out in Kathmandu: adventures in backpacking, and a suspenseful whodunit set in Amsterdam, The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery. Find out more at http://www.jennifersalderson.com .
Jackie:.Tell us a little about yourself, and your writing background. What made you want to be a writer?
- Alderson: I’m a long-time expat, an American who’s been living in the Netherlands since 2004, and the author of two novels, Down and Out in Kathmandu: Adventures in Backpacking and The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery. In America I worked as a journalist and multimedia developer until massive burnout lead me to quit my job, buy a backpack and head off to Nepal as a volunteer English teacher for three months. As cliché as it might sound, this trip ended up being a life-changing experience. After several years on the road, I moved to the Netherlands. I ended up here by pure chance. After a 24 hour layover in Rome turned into a two-month tour of Europe, I arrived in Amsterdam on Queen’s Day and immediately feel in love with the city, country, culture and people. Several months of paperwork later, I returned to Amsterdam to study art history and never left. After completing degrees in art history and museum studies, I worked for several museums before the economy crashed and the cultural sector imploded. While apply for jobs, I wrote my first novel as a way of keeping my mind occupied. Writing about my adventures in Nepal and Thailand also helped curtail my wanderlust. I finished it between contracts, but never pursued publication. After my son was born, I had the luxury of staying home to raise him. Writing became a way to connect with ‘grownup’ life, and gave me an excuse to visit several museums and archives I’d always wanted to check out. The Lover’s Portrait was so well-received by everyone who read it, I decided to publish both of my books and see what happened. I’ve been absolutely blown away by the overwhelmingly positive reception so far.
Jackie:What are your ambitions for your writing career?
- Alderson: To keep writing the stories floating around in my head and promoting those I’ve already published.
J: What was your favorite book to write and why?
- A: The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery has been my favorite book to write, so far, though my current work-in-progress, another art mystery about bis poles, is a lot of fun to write. The Lover’s Portrait is a mystery set in present day and wartime Amsterdam which uses the context of an art exhibition to examine issues surrounding the restitution of looted art and the intrinsic worth of artwork, as well as core values such as integrity, perseverance and sacrifice. It was an enormous challenge to work my knowledge and research done into the art trade, World War Two and Dutch history into the text, in a way that was appealing to mystery readers. I’m glad to see reviewers appreciate the research I’ve done and that it’s been awarded a 5 star medal from Readers’ Favorite and came in at number 14 in the mystery category of the BookLife Prize for Fiction 2016.
J: Where did Zelda Richardson come from? What kind of inspiration did you look for?
- A: Zelda was the name of my cat and Richardson just seemed right. She’s become a way for me to relieve past adventures and allows me to take new ones from the comfort of my writing desk.
J: Have you done any traveling? If you have, where was your favorite place?
- A: Before my son was born, traveling was a high priority. I’ve backpacked through more than thirty countries spread across five continents and lived in Darwin, Australia for eighteen months before finally settling in the Netherlands. Nepal is still my favorite country in the world, because it was my first time abroad and it’s a fascinating, beautiful land.
J: Why should someone read your books?
- A: Those who love to travel vicarious to exotic and interesting destinations, as well learn about other cultures will probably enjoy reading my novels.
J: You can choose one book to rewrite, or wish you had written. What would it be?
- A: I would have loved to have written The Expats by Chris Pavone. It is the perfect blend of thriller and travel fiction.
Thank you Jennifer Alderson for the interview, and letting us get to know you a little better! You have had an amazing life!
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