Nina Atwood - Stories with Punch, Suspense, Surprises, and Intrigue

Nina Atwood - Stories with Punch, Suspense, Surprises, and Intrigue

Nina Atwood is a licensed psychotherapist and award-winning executive coach. The author of multiple self-help books, Nina now writes fiction. The Expert Witness is her fourth novel and the first in the Jill Rhodes Mystery/Thriller series. Her previous novels are Unlikely Return, Free Fall, and About Roxanne. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and an adorable rescue cat. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, The Expert Witness.

Please give us a short introduction to what The Expert Witness is about.

Dr. Jill Rhodes is compelled to help with the investigation of the murder of Katie, a popular teenager, by her best friend, Shaun, even though she’s not a forensic psychologist. Dallas police have closed the case, but Detective Nick Webb re-opens it because of Jill’s influence. As she digs into the murder of Katie, she finds a web of lies. She must use all of her skills as a psychologist to find out the truth about Katie and Shaun—before someone else dies.

What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?

I knew I wanted a series, and the first thing that came to mind was writing from my professional experience, so I began to imagine Jill Rhodes, a psychologist. Also, I thought having a character accused of murder, like Shaun, who is so misunderstood due to being on the autism spectrum, would be compelling.

Tell us more about Jill Rhodes. What makes her tick?

Jill is a skilled psychologist, super intelligent, with a strong bent toward logic. Underneath, she is driven by a sense of justice and lots of compassion. Once she begins to dig into the case, she can’t stop until she gets to the truth.

Jill is a psychologist. Why did you create her this way?

My background is in psychology, so it was natural for me to write about one. Also, there aren’t very many series out there with the main character of a psychologist, so I thought it might be somewhat unique. Typically, the protagonist in a mystery series is an FBI agent or a police detective.

What was your greatest challenge when writing this story?

Introducing a detective—delving into the legal and police procedural worlds is not my forte, so I had to learn a lot quickly.

This is book one of your Jill Rhodes Mystery/Thriller series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?

This is book one and there are no other books in the series YET. It can be read as a standalone but I hope readers will want to read the next book!

There's some rivalry between the Dallas police and Rhodes. Why did you take this approach?

Putting myself in their shoes, I imagined that if the investigation was closed, they wouldn’t be inclined to re-open it, especially in light of the workload that I believe homicide detectives have in a large metropolitan city like Dallas. Also, it might feel like second-guessing their skills, and by someone who is not a detective, a psychologist. Two very different kinds of professionals, which I thought would lend itself naturally towards some level of rivalry.

Why did you pick a popular teenage girl to be the victim in this story?

No murder is good, but when a kid is killed, emotions run especially high, and I wanted the drama of the families, and the media circus.

The story contains a few twists and turns. Did you plan it all out before you started writing, or did some of it just "happen" along the way?

That’s a great question! High level, it was thought out in advance, but there were some things that unfurled as I wrote so I went in some slightly different directions.

When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?

Outline the plot high level, and profile the main characters.

What are you working on right now?

Book two in the Jill Rhodes mystery/thriller series, of course.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

Best place is to go and get a free novella:

The Expert Witness
Nina Atwood

Psychologist Jill Rhodes must solve the electrifying truth of the murder of a beautiful, popular teenage girl. Did Katie's best friend kill her in an unforgiveable act of revenge? Or did someone else? As the dangers to her client and herself rise, Jill must utilize all of her skills as a psychologist and investigator. Before someone else dies.