Penny Goetjen has a true passion for murder mystery. One that is clearly and brilliantly captured in her latest release, The Woman Underwater. The novel follows the life of Victoria Sands after the disappearance of her husband. In the seven years since he vanished, there have been no witnesses, no credible evidence, and little hope for his return. But someone has to know what happened. And that person could be closer to Victoria than she realizes.
With The Woman Underwater, the award-winning novelist has delivered an enthralling and intense read. The story was told with such vivid imagery and suspense that I couldn't put it down until I finished it. The mystery was easily solved for me. However, as someone who spends far too much time watching murder mystery shows, I'll just chalk that up to my own expertise. Ha! A Good Book To End The Day gives this book two big thumbs up.
To learn more about the story behind the story, read A Good Book To End The Day’s interview with the author below.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That would have to be when I got that phone call from the publisher of my first novel. It had taken me three years of sending query letters and getting rejection letter after rejection letter back. I knew it would take a while to break into the industry, but I refused to give up. I loved my story and believed a publisher or agent would also embrace it. Then the call finally came. Someone wanted to publish my manuscript! It was thrilling.
Tell us about The Woman Underwater and the inspiration behind the story.
My recent release The Woman Underwater is a standalone contemporary suspense and is the result of readers in Connecticut asking when I was going to set a novel there. After all, I was born in the Nutmeg State and lived there longer than anywhere else. At that point, I had three mysteries set on the rocky coast of Maine in an old family-run inn perched atop a precipice overlooking the ocean and two set in the steamy Caribbean with palm trees, warm turquoise water, and pristine white sandy beaches as the backdrop. Setting a story in Connecticut was a great idea. I usually choose settings in places I love, and there’s so much to love about Connecticut—particularly the change in seasons and the stunning foliage colors in the fall. Once the setting is in place, then the storyline starts to settle in, and the characters begin to introduce themselves.
The Woman Underwater is the story of protagonist Victoria Sands. When the story opens, her husband has been missing for nearly seven years. He’d been a teacher at a private all-boys boarding school in Connecticut and disappeared on a field trip to New York City with his students. No witnesses. And without a trace. They never located his car. The few tenuous leads the police initially had fizzled quickly. One of the wrinkles in the story is that their son Jameson is now a senior at the school where his father taught. The field trip his father disappeared on is coming up on the calendar and he wants to go.
What message do you hope readers take away from the book?
A recurring theme in my books is the strength of love. The Woman Underwater is no exception. Victoria is holding onto hope that her husband will come back to her. Everyone around her is urging her to move on—for her sake and the sake of their two sons. But her heart tells her he’s still out there somewhere and will return one day. One of the sure signs is that she continues to receive coral-colored roses each year for her birthday, a tradition started when they were first married and continues after he went missing. She refuses to give up hope. Her heart won’t let her.
Immersive environments are essential in your stories. How do you go about selecting the perfect setting for your novel?
I write about places I’ve fallen in love with, and each setting becomes a character in the story: the rocky coast of Maine in my Coastal Maine Mysteries, the steamy Caribbean in my Olivia Benning Mystery Series, and now charming Connecticut when summer slips into fall in The Woman Underwater. Readers feel submerged in the settings, and by the time they’ve reached the last page, they’ve fallen in love too.
I read that you are fascinated by the paranormal and often weave that into your stories. How did that curiosity begin, and how does it influence your work today?
As far back as I can recall, I’ve always been fascinated with the paranormal. In my family, it’s long been accepted that my grandmother’s creaky old house in Maine is ripe with paranormal activity. Over the years, I listened intently as my parents shared stories of their experiences. But that’s all they were to me—stories—until I had my own, very personal, absolutely terrifying experience one summer during college when I was visiting my grandmother without the rest of my family. For a while after that, I put up a wall to try to block any further interaction until I couldn’t stand it any longer. I grew curious about the paranormal again and opened myself back up to it, and I now have quite a few stories to tell. Since it’s a part of my life, it seems natural to weave a subtle paranormal thread into my mystery/suspense novels.
Do you have any other projects in the works at this time?
I always have something simmering in the back of my mind, patiently waiting for me to finish up on the current project so I can pull it to the forefront and give it my full attention. My current back burner project is a story set in Charleston, South Carolina, that will be in the mystery/suspense genre.
What does literary success look like to you?
Having readers who keep coming back, looking for my next book. They’ve read one or more of my back titles and are looking for more. That is intrinsically satisfying. And I have an amazing group of readers who stay engaged on social media and are SO supportive. It’s a pleasure to write for them!
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Thank you for asking! I love staying connected to readers.
Thanks so much for being part of the A Good Book To End The Day family! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If I could, I’d like to mention on behalf of ALL authors that reviews are critical to a book’s success. And browsers on the hunt for their next great read want to hear your thoughts. A couple of sentences will suffice. Think about what you would say to a friend about the book. Your feedback can be copied and pasted to a number of places: Amazon, Goodreads, Bookbub, BarnesandNoble.com, your social media, the author’s timeline, and anywhere else you frequent. And you don’t have to have purchased your book on Amazon to leave a review there. They understand that readers share books, receive them as gifts, borrow from the library, and purchase books from other sources—like the author. Thank you from all of us for taking the time to write a review. We appreciate it!