The Clock Strikes Midnight is a race against time in a quest for revenge and atonement. This is a story about hate, love, betrayal and forgiveness.
If you found out you had only 3 months to live, what would you do? That’s the question Janie Knox faces in this fast-paced mystery full of uncertainty and tension that will surprise you until the very last page.
Hiding behind the façade of a normal life, Janie keeps her family secrets tucked inside a broken heart. Everything changes on the day she learns she’s going to die. With the clock ticking and her time running out, she rushes to finish what she couldn’t do when she was 17—destroy her mother’s killer. But she can’t do it alone.
Janie returns to her childhood home to elicit help from her sister. She faces more than she bargained for when she discovers her sister’s life in shambles. Meanwhile her mother’s convicted killer, her stepfather, recently released from prison, blackmails the sisters and plots to extract millions from the state in retribution. New revelations challenge Janie’s resolve, but she refuses to allow either time or her enemies to her stop her from uncovering the truth she’s held captive for over 20 years.
“Daddy, when I get my kitty, can I name him Davy?” she had asked, yanking Marlene’s Davy Crockett mug full of M&M’s from her grasp.
The colorful candy spilled all over the backseat of the car.
“Mama, tell Janie to—”
“Janie, behave,” Daddy said, admonishing her for an instant with his eyes from the rearview mirror.
“Malcolm, look out—!” Mom screamed.
Janie slammed into Marlene. Pain. The world tumbled topsy-turvy. The mug flew across the interior of the car, colors of the rainbow falling all around her.
Then, everything went black.
When she opened her eyes, Mom’s blood-streaked face rose in front of her out of the darkness.
“Wrap your arms around my neck, honey.” Mom lifted her from the wreckage.
Janie clutched her doll by the dress while the rain beat her curly hair flat.
Marlene stood on the side of the road.
“Try to walk,” Mom said, toppling her from her arms.
Her head pounded and blood trickled down her leg. She leaned on her good leg and limped in the direction of her sister.
“Mama, where’s Daddy?” Marlene asked between sobs.
Mom took Marlene’s hand and yanked her forward with Janie in tow.
Marlene lurched back toward the smashed Oldsmobile with smoke billowing from its hood and a big tree lying across the roof. The Davy Crockett mug lay shattered by the back tire.
“Daddy! We can’t leave Daddy!” Marlene yelled, picking up pieces of the broken glass.
They had left Daddy that day and piled into an old Chevy pick-up truck with a bashed in headlamp, belonging to a man with carrot-red hair. Mom pushed them inside the truck and ordered the man to get help. But by then it was too late for Daddy.
It was too late for all of them.
1) I am married to a psychiatrist and I’m a sociologist. This makes writing about people quite interesting. We both have a different perspective about motivations. I love talking over things with him.
2) I live in the south and have done so for most of my life (just 2 years when I was very young in Pennsylvania). But, I’ve never considered myself a true southerner. My mom is from New York. Her northern influence on me dampens my Southerness. But, I’ve got many southern friends and I love them all!
3) My dad was born in Italy and came over here when he was 9 years old. He married my mom late in life. Unfortunately he died when I was just 8, but I still have a strong pull toward everything Italian. I’ve been to Italy many times and love being there, particularly among the Italian people. Several years ago I began studying the language. Now, I try to speak or study some Italian every day. By mastering the language, I’ve learned so much more about the people.
4) I’m a communications consultant/coach by profession. Maybe that’s why learning Italian was important –in order to improve my communication with the Italian people. In any event, communication is a vital part of writing. I think my skill at listening has helped me construct of dialogue.
5) I love to read and have read all my life. My mom taught me that. She always had a book. As kids we knew not to disturb her while she was reading (which was basically all the time). Now my mom is in her nineties and she is still an avid reader. We share titles back and forth all the time. It’s amazing how strong her mind continues to be. Maybe that’s because of all her reading.
6) People call me fit. I exercise a lot. I think I do that because my dad died of a heart attack. I know my genes might not be good so I’m doing all I can to create a strong heart by exercise. I go to spin classes three times a week, I swim a mile at the Y pool once a week, I attend Pilates once a week and I walk my dog every day. On good weeks, I also walk with a friend. We usually walk about 7-8 miles.
7) Finally, I’m a big animal lover. You’ll find animals in my books, particularly the series that will follow The Clock Strikes Midnight. I have four cats and one dog. Two of my cats live inside all the time (and are often on my desk or sitting in front of my computer as I work), one cat is in and out and the fourth is always out. He’s feral and won’t allow us to touch him, but he eats well.
Fun Facts about my book:
1) This book was originally written from the point of view of two teenage sisters. I created a story that began with them in pre-teen states and moved them to adulthood. When I sent out the manuscript, people considered it a young adult book. Because the topic did not lend itself to young adult, I knew I had to make some major changes. So I re-wrote the book by turning it upside down. I began at the end of the original manuscript and went from there. Once I did that, the story took off. It changed so much, but the foundation was still there. Having known the characters as teens , I could give them much more depth and complexity.
2) Another strange thing happened while writing The Clock Strikes Midnight. I had planned to write only from the points of view of the two sisters. But, as I wrote, their mother kept tapping me on the shoulder. It was as if she wanted her say. “Give me a chance to share what happened to me.” I ignored these pleas for as long as I could. Finally, I reached a stopping point. I knew I couldn’t proceed until I gave Eloise her chance. I decided I’d write a section just from her point of view. If it didn’t work, I could delete it. Readers now tell me how important that section is to the story. I learned my lesson. Writers must listen to their characters!
Interesting facts about the characters:
1) Readers tell me how rich my characters are. Some say they don’t like them very much; others say they feel attached to them. I believe I’ve created complicated characters with complicated motivations. Janie was a selfish adolescent. But she was also confused and angry about what was going on in her home. Her response was to run away. Escape was Janie’s pattern of behavior. With the Clock Strikes Midnight, Janie can no longer escape her fate. When escape is no longer an option she becomes a stronger person.
2) Marlene was a strong adolescent. She did as she was told and tried not to rock the boat in a difficult home. She’s what people would have described as a good girl. She, too, escapes but she doesn’t see it that way. Her escape is through drink. Alcohol enables her to forget her past and to pretend her life is normal. Again, she reaches a place where she can no longer escape.
3) Both sisters grow up in the same household but they experience different things and have different responses. As a writer I was curious about that phenomenon. How can two siblings grow up together and come out so differently? That question nagged at me as I lived in the heads of these two characters.
Other fun facts:
Favorite athlete: Roger Federer. I’m a tennis hound. I love the sport.
Favorite music: Italian songs, particularly by Eros Ramazzotti. I also love classical music, particularly by the Russians—Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov. And I love show tunes, particularly those of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Favorite food: All kinds of bread, particularly focaccia dipped in Italian olive oil.
Most recent favorite author: Liane Moriarty. My fav authors change as I find new books. I have many
Favorite place to travel: Italy. I love every place I’ve been in Italy but one of my most favorite spots is Puglia.
Joan is an award-winning writer who has published 5 books and numerous stories. In her newest mystery/suspense novel, The Clock Strikes Midnight, we meet Janie Knox, a tormented young woman who escaped her home and family after a jury convicted her stepfather of killing her mother. Full of twists and turns, readers learn of a trail of long-hidden family secrets that plague the lives of both Janie and her older sister, Marlene. Not until the last page do all the secrets reveal themselves and the web of lies finally release its hold on the two sisters.
Joan has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember. She reads all kinds of books, including women’s fiction, mysteries, biography, and nonfiction related to her work. She does not read fantasy, horror or romance. Her passion as a reader lies closer to literary writing with a commercial bent.
Her debut novel, The Clock Strikes Midnight, was released by MuseItUp Publishing on 11/25/ 2014. This mystery/suspense book is exactly the kind of book Joan loves to read.
“I write about characters who remind me of myself at times and my sister at times, but never fully so. My stories are told from a woman’s point of view with a destiny. Characters drive my writing and my reading.”
Having grown up in the South with a mother from Westchester County New York, Joan has a unique take on blending the southern traditions with the eye of a northerner. She spent most of her childhood in North Carolina and now resides in Georgia.