by Grace Topping
Slightly Murderous Intent
A Southern California Mystery
There's a shooter on the loose who keeps missing his target. But that doesn't stop him from trying again…and again. It's up to Corrie Locke, rookie lawyer
When Corrie is stuck with more questions than answers, she enlists a team with various strengths, from weapons to cooking skills, to help her find the shooter. Her computer whiz boyfriend Michael is onboard. So is former security guard
Can Team Corrie hunt down the shooter before he scores a bulls-eye?
Launching and promoting a new book is a challenge for any author. For Lida Sideris, it was even more challenging trying to do it during a pandemic. It was a pleasure talking to Lida about her new book, Slightly Murderous Intent, and learning about the method she used to promote it.
Welcome back to Writers Who Kill, Lida.
Thank you, Grace. I’m so glad to be back.
What is it about Southern California that makes it the perfect setting for your series?
I really enjoy inserting my heroine, Corrie Locke, into uneventful, but enjoyable places that I’ve personally visited or imagined visiting, and watch her turn those settings upside down. She goes to one of my favorite restaurants, and instead of being served her meal, she’s served crime a la mode. She’s a passenger aboard a small ferry chugging across a small bay, which I’ve done plenty of times with my family, but she’s nearly drowned and threatened. What is it about her? SoCal is where I grew up, and it’s a setting that offers me plenty of opportunities for criminal activity to pop up.
With each book, Corrie Locke’s activities become even more physical and she seems to be fearless—chasing down and tackling suspects. What accounts for Corrie’s spunk and physical bravery?
With every case she solves as a quasi-professional sleuth, she gains confidence; she becomes bolder and more daring and, since she’s a thrill seeker/risk-taker by nature, it’s not hard for her to push the envelope. If I did A before, then I can definitely tackle B – that’s the way she thinks. As the series progresses, she’s less reluctant, more willing to utilize skills she learned under the tutelage of her PI dad. For Corrie, there’s no satisfaction quite like bringing a criminal to justice.
Your books have also become more suspenseful. The last chapters especially had me sitting on the edge of my chair. At this point, how do you categorize your series?
I view the series as a mystery-adventure with a sprinkling of suspense and humor throughout.
In the past, Corrie had been attracted to two men, who are entirely different from one another. In Slightly Murderous Intent, without giving anything away, she appears to be favoring one more than the other—at least for the time being. What accounted for her escaping the love triangle?
It’s no fun for me as a writer to have a static heroine. In the past, she’s been attracted to men like herself – risk-takers and danger seekers. But sometimes the very thing we need the most is right in front of us (or on our feet, as in the case of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz). How’s that for a vague explanation? Let’s just say, she’s beginning to figure out what’s missing in her life.
There are so many great characters in this book. I especially enjoy feisty Veera. Please tell us about her.
Thank you yet again. Before Veera, Corrie didn’t have any girlfriends. Good-natured, hard-working, loyal, and trustworthy, Veera offers common sense when needed and often gives Corrie a push in the right direction. Plus, Veera does what all real-life and fictional sidekicks do: she fills in gaps for Corrie. As a former security guard, Veera’s well connected, which comes in handy. The underlying theme in each book is friendship, which plays a big role in Corrie’s escapades.
One intriguing aspect of your series was the mysterious disappearance or passing of Corrie’s father. Will we be learning more about that in future books in the series?
Yes, I see it progressing in that direction. I’m curious how Corrie would react to her father in real-time rather than via memory or hearing his voice in her head. I see him playing a bigger role in the future. Shhhh! That’s all I’m saying.
I’d also like to hear more about her mother and her wonderful wardrobe. Do you find it a challenge to write a new book in the series and include characters and situations from previous books?
The second book was most challenging because a series has a backstory that may be relevant in each succeeding book. How much to include? The sidekicks are welcome because I know them well and they’re each so eager and enthusiastic to assist; I like having them around. They just kind of weave in and out on their own. In my upcoming #5, Gambling with Murder, the sidekicks will shift around a bit with a different one in the mix, aka Mom.
Now that you’ve written four mysteries and a children’s book, what are the most valuable things you’ve learned along the way? Things you wished you’d known when you started out.
I beg myself each time to just pound out that first draft without editing, without looking back, without caring about the clunky fingers or the words that don’t fit right. Just get to The End and worry about fixing it later. Easier said than done because I really enjoy editing while writing.
Book promotion during a pandemic has been harder than ever, especially for authors like you who launched a new book this past year. What are you doing to promote your series while staying at home?
It was challenging at first. I really enjoy meeting readers and writers in person, but I was so fortunate to connect with three mystery authors with my same publisher (Level Best Books). Our publisher has monthly Zoom meetings and after a meeting, I did a call-out for authors with release dates around mine. Three responded! The timing was perfect and we meshed so well to create the Sleuths & Sidekicks Virtual Tour. It enabled us to travel from coast to coast without leaving the comfort of our homes. It’s been a blast and a blessing to have found them in the midst of everything. Writers are very generous in supporting each other.
You’ve posted gorgeous photos of your farm or ranch with miles of countryside around you. Do you find living far from the madding crowd helpful to your writing? Or do you yearn for a coffee shop as a place to write?
Thank you. I live in a rural area with picturesque scenery. I relish my alone time when I write and a comfortable setting. That said, pre-pandemic, I’d visit the central public library near my day job during lunch breaks to write. With deadlines, you gotta grab time wherever you can.
With so many authors branching out into additional series, are there new things you are looking at? Any more children’s books in the works?
I’d love to do another children’s book, another series, and more short stories, but for now, I’ve got the next book in my Southern California Mysteries to complete.
What’s next for Corrie, Michael, and James?
Corrie’s currently investigating the disappearance of a resident in a ritzy retirement community in the northern tip of Southern California, not far from my own home, in Santa Barbara. I’m just trying to stay out of her way.
Thank you, Lida. It’s always a pleasure to have you here at WWK.