I'd like to welcome Cathy Ace back to the blog today. Cathy writes the Cait Morgan Mystery series. We're having a pre-release party for her next book, The Corpse with the Platinum Hair, which will be released October 14th, 2014.
Kathy: A closed room mystery is a classic. What made you decide to to use this subgenre?
CA: The Cait Morgan Mysteries are all closed circle mysteries, where only a small number of people could have “dunnit,” so making the circumstances even more confined, by shutting up all the suspects in one room really appealed to me. By placing the victim, all the suspects, and most definitely the killer, in a room from which they cannot escape for twelve hours, and by killing off more people as those hours pass, I hope that the reader feels an increasing amount of tension within the ever-more claustrophobic setting.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite closed room mystery?
CA: There are quite a few “locked room” mysteries—where the victim is locked in a room and no one could have managed to get inside to kill them (except, of course, they somehow did!), making for a classic “impossible crime”—but relatively few true closed room mysteries. That said, if you allow for an island as the “closed” environment instead of an actual room, then the most famous of all is Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None,” which I adored when I first read it, and still find fascinating today.
Kathy: Setting plays such an important role in a mystery. How did you choose Las Vegas for The Corpse with the Platinum Hair?
CA: Readers of the previous Cait Morgan Mysteries will know that I like to throw groups of people together who have different relationships with the setting for the book. I like to consider how those who have grown up in a place, and have that place in their blood, mix with those who are “incomers” and those who are merely visiting, or passing through. It’s a tension that exists naturally and I like to use it, play with it, and exploit it in my work. I also find history, art and architecture fascinating, and all three feature in most of my books. This book allows me to use the history of Vegas, and the flights of architectural and cultural fancy that are played out there, in a way that doesn’t often happen in books that feature Vegas as a setting. I especially enjoyed inventing the fictional Tsar! Casino and Hotel, Babushkas Bar, the Romanoff Room Restaurant and the private owners’ dining room for this book. Tsarist themes abound, and there’s even a Russian operatic Diva as one of the ever-dwindling group of suspects!
Kathy: Have you visited Vegas? Do you like to gamble?
CA: I accept that Las Vegas is one of those places which people love, or hate. It really doesn’t allow for a neutral opinion. I happen to love it. It’s one of the most extraordinary places in the world, where “normal” can mean pretty much anything! Living just outside Vancouver, Canada means I am just a couple of hours away from Vegas, so it’s possible to fly down on a Friday night and come back at the end of the weekend having had a complete change from my rural lifestyle. In that respect, it’s a perfect escape for me, even though I’m not a big gambler.
Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?
CA: Yes, the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris, Las Vegas can only be reached by an elevator. Having dined there (and, yes, it really is VERY good) it set me thinking about an inaccessible restaurant, the sort of people who might be there, and the type of over-indulgence that was possible. I had some excellent private time at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant with the man who runs it, and I learned a lot! Also, the Executive Chef for Mon Ami Gabi (also at Paris, Las Vegas) allowed me to talk about my favourite foods from their menu, and make my choice of menu the menu for Miss Shirley, the owner of the Tsar! The managers at Mon Ami Gabi have worked with me to perfect a special cocktail called the Tsar!Tini too!
Kathy: When it comes to writing I understand there are 2 general camps-plotters, who diligently plot their stories, and pansters, who fly by the seat of their pants. Are you a plotter, a panster, or do you fall somewhere in between?
CA: Definitely a plotter. I make copious notes about my characters, location, do all my research, plan out the whole book and run it through in my head as though it were a movie before I sit down to write. For me, it works. This method works for me because every clue and red herring is planned into place before I start—it has to be, because each action and interaction needs to flow naturally from each character, so that it’s totally believable from their psychological point of view.
Kathy: Authors are required to do a lot of their own marketing, especially for a new release. What's your favorite part of marketing your work? What do you dislike about marketing?
CA: I enjoy marketing—in fact, that’s what I did for a living all my working life. Having written nine textbooks about marketing communication and brand strategy, I suppose I really can say “I wrote the book on it”! I don’t have a part I don’t enjoy. I think that the most fun part is meeting with book clubs, either face to face or over Skype, to talk about my book—and that’s because we can all chat about the book without the danger of there being any spoilers raised. It’s very liberating!
Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?
CA: Yes, I can! I’m pleased to say that spring 2015 will have Cait meeting THE CORPSE WITH THE SAPPHIRE EYES, in a gothic Welsh clifftop castle, no less. In the fall of 2015 she’ll be off exploring the Hawaiian Islands on a luxury cruise ship, where she’ll encounter THE CORPSE WITH THE DIAMOND HAND! She’s a busy girl, is Cait. I think that’s why she needs to eat and drink so much—she has to keep her strength up.
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