Sunday, December 15, 2013

Heartbreak Hotel-Interview and Contest

Heartbreak Hotel is a book of three interconnected mystery novellas, all having to do with Elvis! I posed the same questions to each of the authors, Terri L. Austin (Diners Keepers, Losers Weepers), Larissa Reinhart (Quick Sketch), and LynDee Walker (Dateline Memphis).

Kathy: What challenges exists in writing interconnected mysteries? What are its perks?

Terri: I think the biggest challenge was making sure our descriptions of the hotel lined up. And the drag queens we used needed to be consistent throughout. But it was fun to see what Larissa and LynDee had come up with. We each wrote our stories individually and showed them to each other when they were done.  
Larissa: Writing Heartache Motel with LynDee and Terri was less challenging than you’d think. I’d call it perkalicious. We sent emails back and forth, bouncing ideas off of each other. Created a Pinterest board for sharing images. We had to makes sure the motel and some of the characters were synchronized. But I can honestly say it was mainly fun!
LynDee: I agree. I had fun with the whole process. The challenge was triple-and-quadruple checking the descriptions. The most fun thing for me was the brainstorming we did coming up with the motel and the common characters in the stories. Those emails are a comedy gold mine!
Kathy: What makes Elvis so special?
Terri: He's the king for a reason. His memory is still alive and he has legions of fans. I was driving through the south a few weeks ago, and at a large truck stop (I LOVE truck stops!!) there was a whole section devoted to Elvis. T-shirts, keyrings, shot glasses. People love him.
Larissa: He’s the King! This is just my opinion, but I think several things combined to make him such an icon. He came from humble roots. He was extremely talented, but also savvy. The music he sang wasn’t groundbreaking, but he made it mainstream. He had a combination of humility and sexiness that made him extremely charming and likable. And he opened himself to the public. I’m not any kind of expert on Elvis. I love his music, but I never researched him until I wrote Quick Sketch. He’s a very interesting man.
LynDee: Well, he's special to me because my mom was a HUGE Elvis fan. But overall, I think it's a combination of things. He came onto the music scene at a time when American teenagers were ready for something exciting and new, and he gave them that. His music transcends genre and crossed all kinds of boundaries back then, which fed his immense popularity. And his good looks and talent didn't hurt, either.

Kathy: Do you have a significant Elvis connection?
Terri: I didn't until writing this novella. But after listening to several songs and watching a few movies, I'm hooked. Clambake anyone?
Larissa: My husband and I were married in the chapel at the Coco Palms Hotel in Kawaii where they filmed Blue Hawaii! That chapel was in the movie. After we married, I think it was destroyed by a hurricane or something. Didn’t jinx us, though. Still married.
LynDee: As I said, my mom was a big, big Elvis fan. I grew up on his music and movies (Fun in Acapulco is still my favorite. Followed closely by Kissin' Cousins. Pappy was hilarious!), and I've been to Graceland. Is that significant? It is to me, anyhow. I had a blast writing Dateline Memphis and getting to pore over photos and memories in the process. 

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
Terri: I'm still not convinced I write a cozy mystery. Maybe a new cozy with a little more violence, language and sex than a typical cozy. I do love a good mystery, though. A heroine who is feisty and won't stop until she finds the killer--it's great fun to write.
Larissa: I like mysteries, but I’m not comfortable writing from the perspective of someone who really knows how to solve crimes. I’m character driven. And I like humor. And romance. So that puts me in the cozy crime group, I guess.
LynDee: Ditto what Terri said. My Headlines in High Heels books are often categorized as cozy, and who am I to argue? But they have a sprinkle of language and romance, and Nichelle is a little edgier than the "typical" cozy sleuth. I love mysteries, no matter the sub-category. I think, in some respects, all great stories are mysteries. There may not be a dead guy in everything, but there has to be a reason to get the reader to keep reading.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
Terri: I write smexy romance and urban fantasy as well.
Larissa: I read all kinds of genres, so I think that makes me want to write all kinds of genres. I like writing Chick lit type romances. Romantic suspense with a kind of paranormal twist. I’m working on what may be an urban fantasy. I have some ideas for some Young Adult/New Adult stories, and actually the first manuscript I wrote was a New Adult paranormal romance. To be honest, I just write and find out what the genre is after the stories are written.
LynDee: I dabble in women's fiction and magical realism.

Kathy:Tell us about your series.
Terri: My Rose Strickland Series is about a former-rich-girl-turned-waitress. She's loyal and that leads her into all sorts of mystery-solving adventures. My romance series, coming out in May, kicks off with HIS EVERY NEED. The series features three sisters and the British heroes who love them. 
Larissa: The Cherry Tucker series is set in small town, Georgia, and features the adventures of said Cherry Tucker, a classically trained portrait artist trying to make a living as an artist. And not well. Because she can’t mind her own business she often finds herself embarked on some dangerous caper that leads to solving mysteries. And in the stories there is usually a goat, an old truck, and a handful of good looking men.
LynDee: The Headlines in High Heels books are about a smart, sassy crime reporter who gets into occasional trouble poking around a story people would rather she stay out of. She has a fierce work ethic, a weakness for great shoes, and a small circle of great friends. Plus a couple of hotter-than-an-August-afternoon-in-Dallas guys who'd like to be more than friends. 

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
Terri: Probably Rose. She's a flawed character with a big heart. Second would be Rose's best friend, Roxy. She says what everyone else is thinking and she rocks crazy fashion while she does it.
Larissa: Red the bartender. He’s not a big character, but he likes to tell Cherry how the cow eats the cabbage. He watches a lot of daytime TV at the bar and loves to psychoanalyze Cherry. I think it’s good therapy for her. I worry about Cherry.
LynDee: Nichelle, definitely. She's so much fun to write. She's a good reporter with a big heart and a drive to help people. She's also witty and fun and she can run in stilettos. I'd love to go have a glass of wine with her. 

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
Terri: I wanted to write about an underdog that was torn between two worlds--her old, wealthy lifestyle and her new, hard-won independence.
Larissa: The idea for characters like Cherry and her family just popped in my head one day. However, (not to be morbid) when my dad passed away, I stayed with my mom in my very small hometown for three weeks and that fertilized that idea of Cherry. And gave me the original idea for a story of an artist painting a portrait of a dead guy.
LynDee: Mine probably grew out of missing the newsroom. I loved being a reporter, but the hours were a little insane, and I walked away when my first child was born. This way, I get to play in that world and still be home with my little monkeys.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
Terri: I think it's every author's dream to get their book published. Once it was edited as tightly as I could manage, I started sending it out to agents and publishers.
Larissa: Portrait of a Dead Guy (the first Cherry Tucker mystery) was my second manuscript I had written. I just felt it was publishable although I knew it needed help from an editor. I didn’t feel that way about my first manuscript.
LynDee: What Terri said. Once I finished the rough draft of FRONT PAGE FATALITY, I started researching publishing. I discovered I had a lot to learn, but learn it I did, and I'm so happy to have landed at Henery Press with Terri and Larissa. It's been an amazing year.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
Terri: Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Dave Barry, and Jackie Collins. I chose the last two because they could entertain me while Agatha and Jane acclimated themselves to the 21st century.
Larissa: I’d invite my friends Terri L. Austin, LynDee Walker, Gretchen Archer, and then Julia Child. Hopefully Julia will cook and entertain us with stories.
LynDee: Hmmmm. Laura Levine, Harlan Coben, Joshilyn Jackson, and Stephen King. I think that would be the best dinner conversation in the history of the world. 
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
Terri: CAGED WARRIOR by Lindsey Piper. It's amazing
Larissa: Gretchen Archer’s second Davis Way novel, DOUBLE DIP. It’s hilarious. I love Davis.
LynDee: GUESTS ON EARTH, by Lee Smith. The research involved in a book like this boggles my mind. But she did an amazing job.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
Terri: I love to bead. Any bead, any time, anywhere. They're so shiny.
Larissa: My hobby is raising two daughters, two fish, two frogs, one dog, and a husband. They are also my interest.
LynDee: When I'm not writing or reading or doing laundry, I play with my little ones. They are my light. I love scrapbooking and tennis, but there's no time for them these days. Someday! 

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
Terri: Rice, beans, salsa, chicken. I'm ready to make a taco bowl at a moment's notice.
Larissa: Soy sauce, mirin, Japanese rice, and beer.
LynDee: Ketchup (I have three small children) Black beans, turkey sausage, and Popchips. Not that those would make a great meal. But they're always there.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
Terri: I'm always thinking of new books. I have several ideas for Rose, I have two more books coming out for my romance trilogy and I just finished editing an urban fantasy. There's never enough time for all the stories I have floating around in my brain.
Larissa: Thanks for asking! My fourth book in the Cherry Tucker series, DEATH IN PERSPECTIVE, should be out next summer. The third book, HIJACK IN ABSTRACT, just released this November. And there’s all the other projects running around in my head.
LynDee: The third Headlines in High Heels book will be out in April, and I just signed a three-book deal with Henery for the fourth, fifth, and sixth books in the series. I'm working on #4 now and having so much fun with it. I have many more stories about Nichelle to tell. And when there's time, I'm going to get back to my magical realism novel, too. I need longer days.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
Terri: Working in my pajamas.
Larissa: This would make my husband laugh because I’ve always been more of an introvert, but I really love connecting with readers. It’s so much fun. LynDee and I even have a street team on Facebook called the Mystery Minions. I look forward to chatting with them every day!
LynDee: Getting to be home with my kids and do what I love. And yoga pants.
Terri: Thanks so much for having us on Cozy Up With Kathy! It was a pleasure to be here!
Larissa: Thanks so much for having us on! This was so much fun.
LynDee: Thanks for having us! Great questions! 

For more information on the authors check out these links:

Terri Austin: 

Larissa Reinhart

LynDee Walker

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  1. What fun--I want to see exactly how each writer handled this. Also novellas are perfect for this time of year when I'm too busy to sit down and read a whole book.

  2. Thanks so much for having us on, Kathy! Such fun questions!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed having you here!