If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

July Interviews

7/1 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
7/8 Jessica Baker, Murder on the Flying Scotsman
7/15 TG Wolff, Driving Reign
7/22 Leslie Budewitz, The Solace of Bay Leaves
7/29 Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets

Saturday Guest Bloggers

7/11 Mark Dressler
7/18 James McCrone

WWK Bloggers:

7/4 Valerie Burns
7/25 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An Interview with Gayle Carline

 I became interested in Gayle Carline’s writing through the Crime Fiction Collective blog where she is a contributor. After reading Hit or Missus, Gayle’s second and current novel in the series, I read her earlier book, Freezer Burn, and short story, “Clean Sweep,” reading the series backward, which I rarely do. But given her intricate plots and my interest in her main character, I did.   
Please welcome Gayle to WWK.       E. B. Davis

Your writing career started in journalistic pursuits—writing articles for a horse-riding magazine and a humor column for your local paper. Why did you switch to fiction, specifically mystery fiction?
I always wanted to write fiction. I love mysteries, but I thought they'd be too hard – all those intricate plot lines that manage to dovetail together at the end! So I thought I'd try something easier: literary fiction. Yes, go ahead, laugh. Herman Melville wanted to write westerns, but he ended up with that fish story instead. Joking, just joking. I tried to write literary fiction. Ended up with a romance. A really crappy one. It lies, dormant, on my external hard drive, where I use it for parts. After that, writing a mystery was easy.

Main character, Peri Minneopa, catapults from self-employed house cleaner to private investigator while going through menopause. Is it natural for most women to change their lives during the “change of life?”
I don't know about most women, but I believe in experiencing reincarnation while I'm still alive to remember it. Honestly, I've moved through so many changes. I'm in my third or fourth life now. I started out as a very shy person, frightened of much of life, and now I'm outgoing and outspoken and I work with horses. Menopause didn't make much difference, it just made me sweat more. Peri's career switch is not strictly related to menopause. It's more about her awareness that she's not getting any younger and maybe she doesn't want to be scrubbing other people's toilets when she's sixty. Investigations are easier, if you don't count being threatened and beaten up and shot.

The short story, “Clean Sweep,” bridges Peri’s change from house cleaner to PI. Why did you choose a short story to show this change?
This story was part of an anthology requested by my original "Freezer Burn" publisher. She called and asked if I could write a 5,000 word story in a month so she could include it in a book called "Missing." Oh – and the subject had to be about a missing person. I'm just a girl who can't say no. I decided to write about Peri as a housecleaner and one of her clients goes missing. Somehow that sounded like the easiest plot. When I got the rights back to it, I re-edited, made it a little longer, and stuck it up online as an e-short. I'd like to write a few more Peri short stories, once I get the time. I'm even considering a short story from Benny's point of view.

How did Peri come to live in California (or will this come out in later books)?
I try to let Peri's past come out little by little, but she was born in California, in Salinas. Her parents moved there from Minnesota. They were old-fashioned hippies, more like beatniks. Peri understood them, but didn't want to embrace their lifestyle. They wanted her to go to Berkeley. She saved her own money and put herself through UC Irvine instead, as an English Literature major, and stayed in southern California from that point.

What is it that spurs your intricate plots?
My husband. No, that's not true, I can't blame him completely. I tried to keep Freezer Burn straightforward. I was afraid of getting too many plot points I couldn't resolve. I was so afraid, I had an Excel spreadsheet with the plot, list of clues, characters, etc. Hubby read the book and said, "I like it but it was pretty simple. You didn't give Peri enough to do." So in Hit or Missus, I kind of threw everything at it. I had one reviewer say there was enough for two books, which is kind of true. It was also harder to write. But truly, I like to read intricate plots. I like to watch them on TV. I love Sherlock Holmes – I'm a puzzle solver.

I’ve wondered while reading your books if Skip takes credit for Peri’s contributions to his cases to cover her involvement. It’s never overtly stated, although Peri sometimes goes too far. How do they get around police procedure of evidence collection?
I'm not responsible for what Skip writes on his reports. That's between him, his conscience, and Chief Fletcher, who I hope has enough scenes in the books to let people know he knows what's what. I do try really hard to let the police collect the evidence. And I'm aware, I am not writing police procedurals, so I don't always get it right. I just try to tell a good story, and if I need you to suspend your belief in how things are really done, I try to give you a good reason why. I'm also not too hung up on reality. Some of my favorite shows are Monk, and Psych.

How did the character of Dean Martin-obsessed Benny Needles, a fun secondary character, materialize?
Freezer Burn began as a piece of flash fiction I wrote for a contest (I won). In it, he was a sleazy man who hires a P.I. to find his missing ice cube tray, autographed by Dean Martin. When I decided to write a mystery, I dusted off that piece and thought, what else could you find in a freezer? My plan was that Benny would continue to be sleazy, amoral, unlikeable, and possibly the killer. Then I wrote my first scene with him and Peri, and had to understand why he would have an autographed ice cube tray. Slowly, it dawned on me that he was a collector, verging on hoarding, obsessed with Dino. His personality filled itself in from that point. I actually wasn't going to bring him back in Hit or Missus, but readers kept asking if he was in the second book, so I found a way for him to return in a most annoying way.

Peri’s best friend, Blanche, works as an assistant coroner. She shares her findings with Peri. Is this unrealistic or do BFs share everything?
No, but BFFs do. Don't you share things with your bestie? I suppose if there was information Blanche needed to keep private, she would, but these two are close. As a matter of fact, in the book I'm working on now, she's not as open with Peri as normal, which is a problem for both of them.

What’s the title of your next Peri Minneopa novel?
God, I wish I knew. The working title is "Burning Mad" but I don't like it. I'm about three chapters from the finish line (of the first draft), and I keep hoping a better title will come to me. I'm open to suggestions.

I assume that Dancing Corgi Press is your S corporation. How did you make the decision to self-publish? (Did you try to obtain an agent?)
I am a reluctant self-publisher. My first book was published by an independent press on the East Coast. It was by no means a nightmare, but wasn't the experience I was hoping to have. When Hit or Missus was ready to roll, I sent out queries. Several agents asked for full manuscripts. What I heard back from them was that they liked the pacing, the characters, and the dialog, but it "wasn't right for them." I try to stay on top of the publishing industry news, so what I knew was that: 1) the Big Six isn't that interested in midlist authors, and 2) I am a midlist author. I'm not an idiot. My books are fun little romps, not literary tomes. I was a little skittish about another indie press, and my readers were asking me about the new book, so I took a chance. I'm never going to say never to traditional publishing. But I'm currently happy with the extreme amount of freedom to pick my own covers, set my own prices, offer my own discounts to readers, etc.

One of your blogs is the Crime Fiction Collective. How did the blog start?
I don't really know. I was asked to join the group once they were already established, and I think they might have lost their every-other-Thursday writer. I had met LJ Sellers online, then in person at Bouchercon, so she thought of me when they needed a new recruit. Since then, I've also met CJ West and Marlyn Beebe. They're all delightful folks.

Bonus question: Do you prefer the beach or mountains?
It's more about the weather for me. Beach when it's overcast. Mountains when there's snow. I burn easily, and I look better in sweaters.

Gayle’s books can be bought at Amazon. Thanks for the interview Gayle and for the fun reads.


judyalter said...

What a great idea or a series! Can't wait to read.

E. B. Davis said...

They are fun reads, Judy. I enjoyed them, but there is more action and less cozy than I expected. The MC acts professionally and is no amateur. I hope you try them.

Warren Bull said...

I could not agree more that an author is not responsible for what her/his characters do off the page. Often I don't feel in charge of what they do on the pages.

E. B. Davis said...

LOL! Sometimes that's true. It's hard though when critique partners comment on what about this or that, which you haven't chosen to address. If it's outside of the story, there is no need to address it, in my opinion.

Gayle Carline said...

First of all, thanks for the guest spot! I had a great time answering your questions.

Warren - it was one of the biggest surprises of my writing life to discover I had such limited control over my characters. I've had to re-write several scenes, over several books, that weren't working because I was forcing a character to behave in a way they normally wouldn't. The only thing I can control is their environment, so if they won't behave, I hit them in the head with something.

Polly Iyer said...

I love the sound of your novels, Gayle, and as an indie author, I like the road you've taken and your realistic approach to the publishing industry. I feel much the same way. Best of luck on finishing the next book in the series.

Gloria Alden said...

I know I'd love your books, Gayle. I've written them down to order them. I also plan to self-publish as soon as my graphic artist granddaughter finishes my cover. It's a bit scary going that route, though. Did you have help putting it up or are you tech savvy enough to just breeze through the process?

Gayle Carline said...

Gloria - I did spend almost 30 years as a software engineer, so I have probably more understanding of techie stuff than most. For my first self-pubbed book, I paid for the Createspace services to format it, and to convert it to Kindle. They were super nice to deal with, and helped a lot. After that, I got brave and figured things out for myself.

Incidentally, my first self-pubbed book is a collection of humor essays from my weekly newspaper column. It's called "What Would Erma Do? Confessions of a First-time Humor Columnist." The column is on hiatus until November, because it's a local paper and I'm running for office. Stop laughing.

Gloria Alden said...

Oh, does that sound like a good book, too. Hey, Al Franken did and won. I hope you will, too. I just wrote that book down, too. Thanks for the advice on self-publishing. I'm willing to pay rather than turn out something that is totally messed up. I had trouble following the formatting directions because Word 2010 seems to be different.

Kara Cerise said...

Your books sound terrific, Gayle. I downloaded, “Clean Sweep” and look forward to reading the series.

Best of luck running for office! Perhaps Peri will also get involved in politics?

Gayle Carline said...

I should clarify - I'm running for Library District Trustee. It's the least political office you can be elected to, at least since they stopped electing Dogcatcher. Nonpartisan. But I'm passionate about libraries and I was asked to run, so I'll give it my best shot.

Warren Bull said...

Gayle, Can you send me an absentee ballot? I'd vote for you.

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks, Gayle, for the interview. Hope it's been fun. Drop back and see us sometime. I'm sure we'll be following your adventures on your blog and in your series. Now, get the next in the series written!

Gayle Carline said...

Thank YOU for having me over. It was a great way to spend a Wednesday!

Tameri Etherton said...

As a huge Gayle Carline fan, I would highly recommend all of her books, not just the Peri stories. Those are my favorites, but her Humoirs (humor memoirs) are great, too. I can't decide who I'd rather have as a BFF, Blanche or Peri, so I'd like to have them both hang out with me for a few drinks.