When Jean Marie Wiesen was a little girl she was obsessed with reading everything she could get her hands on and dreamed of one day holding a book with her name as the author on the front cover.
That day has finally come. Wiesen’s first novel, Case of the Missing Look Alikes, was recently published by New York-based Red Sky Entertainment.
“When the books first came to my house it was so surreal,” said Wiesen, who lives on Blueberry Hill Road in Weston. “It was like going back to being a kid, it felt better than Christmas.”
Wiesen said the book took years to write and just as long to finally get it published.
She was used to getting rejection letters until she met Micky Hyman, a publisher with Red Sky, at a book signing for one of Hyman’s clients, New York Times best selling author David Saperstein.
“I sent Micky the manuscript and it took several months to hear back,” said Wiesen. “It seems like I was checking my email every few minutes, and when I finally got an acceptance letter I was in total disbelief.”
It took about a year for the book to see the light of day after she received the good news. Wiesen called it a “very lengthy process” but said holding the book at the end made everything “completely worth it.”
Case of the Missing Look Alikes is a “crime mystery” novel. The book follows Laura Jensen, a young, determined detective who is new to the job, and Mike O’Malley, a gruff former cop who brings a different, experienced perspective to their private detective agency.
Their first case is for Arnold Hansen, a “distraught husband” who is searching for his missing wife, Gwen, a fine artist who spends a lot of time in local woods where Laura hikes daily with her dogs. Additionally, Gwen bears a striking resemblance to Laura.
The story follows “strange going-ons” in the woods, specifically the continued presence of a mysterious hooded figure.
Wiesen describes the book as “a tale of mystery, murder and discovery.”
The book takes place in fictitious Soundview, Connecticut, which Wiesen says is a cross of Weston, Westport and Norwalk. “There are definite Connecticut references that people who live here will understand scattered throughout the book,” she said.
Much of the plot, intrigue and mystery of the novel are derived from the woods. Wiesen’s inspiration was her own interest in area hiking trails.
“People who have hiked in Trout Brook Valley will recognize trails I describe in the book,” she said. “I really used Trout Brook as my primary inspiration.”
Wiesen spent 18 years as an emergency medical technician (EMT) in Westport, and she wove some of those experiences into the story as well.
Similarly, Wiesen said, her friendship with former Westport police Detective Jim Baker influenced the story.
“Jim sat me down for hours to describe the ins and outs of policing,” said Wiesen, who added that she tackles many aspects of the legal system in the story. “I spent weeks going to the Bridgeport Courthouse to observe trials and sentencing and talking to employees just to make sure I got the details right.”
Wiesen has been reading and writing incessantly since childhood, and writing a book was “always a dream” for her.
“When I was a kid I would say I was going to sleep but I ended up putting the bed sheets over my head and reading books with a flashlight,” said Wiesen. “I always had a wild imagination.”
Wiesen was attracted to mysteries from an early age, reading every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book she could get her hands on.
As she got older, she got into Ken Follett, a Welsh author, and P.D. James, a British author who specialized in crime fiction.
Wiesen is still writing constantly and is working to make stories about Laura Jensen into a series.
Her second book, called Case of the Mouse Trap Legend, will likely be out early next year. Wiesen said it is a continuation of the story of Laura Jensen and other characters established in the first book.
“I see myself continuing with these characters for the foreseeable future,” said “Wiesen. “I really have an attachment to all of them.”
The Case of the Mouse Trap Legend, which is finished, is more of “spy-thriller” than a “crime mystery.” Wiesen said she is currently working on novel three and is well on the way to its completion.
“The characters guide the direction of the story,” said Wiesen. “It felt natural for the next book to be more of a thriller than a crime mystery.”
Case of the Missing Look Alikes is currently available to order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and is easy to order through any local bookstore. It’s also available on Kindle, and Wiesen believes the Weston Public Library will have it in the near future. The book costs $12.97 on Amazon for a paperback.
Reception of the book has been positive so far, said Wiesen, and she has received good reviews on Amazon, some of them from strangers who ordered the book based solely on the cover art.
“Even people I know have been objective with their reaction to the book,” she said. “It seems like people have liked it so far.”
Ultimately, Wiesen, said, she wants to keep writing until she physically cannot do it anymore.
“I never thought I’d have the opportunity to do this, I never thought it would happen,” she said. “Dreams really do come true if you’re persistent and patient.”