I am always fascinated with how people come up with their ideas, why they choose to write in a certain genre, and what their writing schedule is like. And since Linda Kupecek has a fabulous new mystery series out called Deadly Dues, I thought I'd ask her. Let's see what tidbits we can learn from her.
Kari: Why did you decide to make your debut in the mystery genre?
Linda: When I was younger, I read the classics and what could be categorized as serious literature. I read Crime and Punishment when I was eleven, and I can't say I recommend this to anybody. In the past ten years, I have read many mysteries. I was writing non-fiction which was selling well (Rebel Women: Achievements Beyond the Ordinary) and was wondering what I wanted to write next. The light bulb went on. I was reading mostly mysteries (along with deeply spiritual self-help books which I am sure were making me a more magnificent person with every page) so why not try my hand at writing a mystery?At the same time, my then publisher asked me to contribute some creative non-fiction to a holiday anthology, and my contributions ended up being a book of four short stories, Fiction and Folly for the Festive Season, shared with illustrator B. Ian Bazley. I later realized that most of the stories were mini-mysteries. Go figure.
Kari: How did you come up with the idea for your mystery series DEADLY DUES and can you tell us a little about the series?
Linda: I worked as an actor for many years. It was an easy step to riff on the life of the actor within the mystery genre. One of the stories in Fiction and Folly starred an actress to whom ridiculous things happened. I enjoyed writing it, and decided I wanted to have some more fun. Hence, Deadly Dues. The series stars Lulu Malone, once famous star of the Bow Wow Dog Food television commercials, who, in Deadly Dues, is reduced to slinging fries at McDonald's in order to support her enormous sheepdog Horatio, her former co-star, while she struggles to find work. Throughout the series, the basic ingredients will be .... Lulu's uncertain profession, Horatio's huge ego, her wild agent Mitzi, her actor friends, her elderly neighbour Mrs. Lauterman, and of course, the twist that very early in each book, poor Lulu will be hit, crushed, slammed, terrified and bewildered by a dead body.
Kari: What went into creating such a fun heroine like Lulu Malone?
Linda: My love of actors and my memory of the years I spent not only working as an actor in film and television, but also in sharing war stories over many drinks with my colleagues. I want Lulu to have the joi de vivre and the resilience that characterizes so many performers. She may endure countless rejections, but she bounces back with a dimple and a glass of chardonnay ..... and a meditation on the life of the artist .... and a further thought on whether or not she could get a grant out of her mental meanderings. And what would she wear if this ever got funded?
Kari: How many books do you see this series being and when does the next one come out? Can you tell us a little about that one if you have it planned out yet?
Linda: I will write as many books as the publisher, TouchWood Editions, and the readers want. The next book, Trashing the Trailer, is tentatively scheduled for a 2011 release, depending on how fast I write. Trashing the Trailer (big surprise) starts with Lulu, temporarily back in the game as the star of a new series, being horrified by having her makeup artist fall on her and inconveniently die. Of course Lulu has to snoop around, in order to save the series and her career. All I can tell you for sure is that Horatio lands a Smart Car commercial. And that Lulu shops for shoes, in between muggings.
Kari: What's your schedule like? Are you a pantser or plotter?
Linda: I am so much a fly by the seat of your pants type of artist. I read Julia Cameron (The Artist's Way) and Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones) and find that stream of consciousness writing works for me in the initial draft of a work of fiction. (Non-fiction, of course, is an entirely different discipline.) So far, in my experience, after I have written the first mess of a manuscript, I retrack my steps, and then, start to storyboard the plot and timelines. I have a wonderful editor, Frances Thorsen, who owns Chronicles of Crime bookstore in Victoria, B.C., and she is immensely helpful in getting the plot into place. I usually have a wild idea of the plot and just surge through on creative energy. Ultimately, it is invaluable to have another set of eyes look at the work and point out the gaps or inconsistencies. I work late at night, generally from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., due to my other commitments. I am agog at writers who say they leap out of bed at 4 a.m. (when I am retiring) and type while birds are chirping. Wow. But we all have different schedules, robins and owls. And I am so much an owl.
Kari: Who are your favorite authors?
Linda: Janet Evanovich: laughing is so good for the soul and I laugh out loud at least once during every one of her books. (If anybody laughs out loud reading Deadly Dues, I would be so happy.)
Elizabeth Peters: I love the Vicky Bliss series, because the heroine is smart, educated, funny, sardonic and is willing to laugh at herself.
K.K. Beck: I am entranced by her heroines, and her crazy wit.
Dorothy Gilman: I don't know if she is still writing, but her books are keepers. Mysteries with immense wisdom and spirituality and humour.
Anthony Bidulka: his Russell Quant series is terrific, a gay detective in Saskatoon, who is smart and funny and tender.
Sharon Wildwind: I always wait for her next mystery and was disappointed to hear she was ending her Pepperhawk series.
Lou Allin: I have read only one, but I was intrigued. Excellent writing, and characters you want to know.
M.C. Beaton: I really enjoy Agatha Raisin's unreasonable crabbiness, such a nice change from the dignified, kind detective (which ultimately is, of course, more admirable, but sometimes it is fun to have an anti-heroine).
Louise Penny: the Inspector Gamache series is deservedly much acclaimed, for character, setting, and the depth of the writing.
Eric Ambler: books I keep forever.
Thanks for doing this,Many thanks for having me. I enjoyed the opportunity to riff on writing and writers.
To find out more about Linda, go to http://www.lindakupecek.com/ Check out this video on YouTube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2Ti5XfF378&feature=youtube_gdataand check in the next months for the new site http://www.lulumalone.com/, where Lulu will riff on her life and times. Recipes. Auditions. And more.
BIO: Linda Kupecek, after graduating from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama, worked as an actor in theatre, film and television. She has survived children’s theatre tours, improv in the park, series television, major motion pictures, low budget flicks, and too many auditions to count. She is trying to forget the time a costume fell off onstage. That's what chardonnay is for. Her previous books are the bestselling Rebel Women: Achievements Beyond the Ordinary (Heritage House Group) The Rebel Cook: Entertaining Advice for the Clueless (TouchWood Editions) and Fiction and Folly for the Festive Season (Heritage House Group, with illustrations by B. Ian Bazley). Deadly Dues is the first in a series of Lulu Malone mysteries from TouchWood Editions.