Author Spotlight no.21 – William Shepard

To complement my daily blog interviews I recently started a series of weekly Author Spotlights and today’s, the twenty-first, is of mystery (and wine :)) author William Shepard.

Now residents of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the Shepards enjoy visits from their daughters and granddaughters, fine and moderate weather, ocean swims at Assateague, Chesapeake Bay crabs, and the company of Rajah and Rani, their two rescued cats.

Prize-winning mystery writer William S. Shepard is the creator of a new genre, the diplomatic mystery, whose plots are set in American Embassies overseas. That mirrors Shepard’s own career in the Foreign Service of the United States, during which he served in Singapore, Saigon, Budapest, Athens and Bordeaux, in addition to five Washington tours of duty.

His books explore this rich, insider background into the world of high stakes diplomacy and government. He evokes his last Foreign Service post, Consul General in Bordeaux, in Vintage Murder, the first of the series of four “diplomatic mysteries.” The second, Murder On The Danube, now also available on Kindle, mines his knowledge of Hungary and the 1956 Revolution. In Murder In Dordogne Robbie Cutler, his main character, is just married, but their honeymoon in the scenic southwest of France is interrupted by murders. The most recent of the series, The Saladin Affair, has Cutler transferred to work for the Secretary of State. Like the author, Cutler arranges trips on Air Force Two – now enlivened by serial Al Qaeda attempts to assassinate the Secretary of State.

And now from the author himself:

I always enjoyed storytelling. It runs in the family, perhaps, for my Uncle Irvin Foster was a spellbinder. He and Aunt Hazel were foster parents, and it was said that the worst punishment that an unruly foster child might expect was to be told that he or she would be sent to bed after supper and before the story hour!

My own storytelling had a practical beginning that is still with me. I was studying at the University of Vienna Summer School (well, “studying” is a bit too serious), and we used to take bus trips into Salzburg for the music festival. I managed to sit next to this cute girl, who told me that bus rides sometimes made her carsick – could I tell her a story to pass the time? Well, I did, and her system behaved, and she saved a seat for me for every bus ride. This past June, we celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary!

I was a diplomat by profession, and served at the American Embassies in Singapore, Saigon, Athens, and Budapest, and retired as Consul General to Bordeaux. There were also five tours of duty in Washington. Foreign Service training added Greek and Hungarian to my store of languages, and I soon found each assignment to be a fascinating blend of history, mythology, custom and geography. I am often asked which assignment I liked best, an impossible question to answer. I liked each for different reasons. On retiring, I began to write, putting on paper our experiences overseas in a fictional context. In the bargain I seem to have invented a new subgenre of the mystery novel – mine is the first diplomatic sleuth. That’s why I call that series the Robbie Cutler Diplomatic Mysteries, after my diplomatic sleuth.

The first, “Vintage Murder” is set in Bordeaux. Robbie is Consul at the Consulate General there, and locks horns with the Basque terrorist ETA group, which is blackmailing the great wine estates. Robbie and his girlfriend Sylvie Marceau elude car bombs while tracking down the terrorists. And there is plenty of time for exploring the vineyards, as well as visiting Lourdes and the caves at Lascaux.

The second, “Murder On The Danube” was published this week!. Robbie has been transferred to the Embassy at Budapest, and the Hungarian Revolution forms the back story of a high adventure involving treachery during the gallant Freedom Fight.

My survey of the detective story, “The Great Detectives, from Vidocq to Sam Spade” treats the great detective writers and their creations. Just where did the name “Sherlock” come from?

My wine book, “Shepard’s Guide to Mastering French Wines” will lead you to explore the world of French wines, and develop your own preferences, for less than the cost of one glass of wine!

Many thanks for giving me this Author Spotlight opportunity!

You’re so welcome, William, thank you for agreeing to take part. 🙂 You can find more about William and his work via

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with crime novelist Stephen Booth – the one hundred and fifty-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks here.

8 thoughts on “Author Spotlight no.21 – William Shepard

    • William S. Shepard says:

      My wine book was a labor of love. I particularly like the way that hyperlinks work in an Ebook. Just click on the hypelink and you are taken from the discussion in the Ebook to the wedsite of a famous wine property. It adds a new dimension to wine writing, I think.


  1. Marilyn Levinson says:

    I’m always curious to learn about the professions of my fellow mystery writers before they became authors. A diplomats career sounds intriguing. I’m going to look for your novels.

    Another great interview!


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