Monday, June 19, 2017

Dream a Little Interview

Today I'm pleased to welcome Susan Kandel to Cozy Up With Kathy. Susan writes the Dreama Black Mystery series. The first book in the series, DREAM A LITTLE DEATH was released May 23, 2017.

Kathy: In DREAM A LITTLE DEATH Dreama Black supports herself by running custom-designed, themed tours of L.A. Although I rarely take tours, I love exploring the areas where I live. Do you enjoy checking things out off the beaten path?

SK: It’s my favorite thing to do. I love to hop in the car with my husband on a weekend, and just drive to a neighborhood we’ve never been to. We use Google a lot, and food as our excuse. So we’ll look up, say, the best carne asada in L.A., which might take us to Boyle Heights, or the best soup dumplings, which will take us to the San Gabriel Valley. We’ll also hunt down garage sales, vintage shops, art installations, architectural landmarks, whatever will get us out of the house and somewhere new. Hint to the uninitiated: a full tank of gas is essential.

Kathy: What's the most unique not to miss place in L.A to visit?

SK: It’s a toss-up between Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House and SUR. That’s a joke. Well, not really.

Kathy: Dreama meets a Raymond Chandler-obsessed rap producer. Are you a fan of Raymond Chandler as well?

SK: Absolutely. Chandler’s ability to evoke a person or a place through metaphor is unparalleled, and the more baroque those metaphors get, the more I love 'em. Then there’s the character of Phillip Marlowe, the touchstone of crime fiction. The novelist in me is also enamored of Chandler’s back story -- his late entry into fiction, his tortured relationship to Hollywood, and his deep and stubborn love for his wife, Cissy.

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

SK: As a kid, I watched my mother devour Agatha Christies. And I wanted to be just like her, so I did the same! And then I was hooked.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

SK: Not yet.

Kathy:  Tell us about your series.

SK: My Dreama Black series features a 28 year old, third generation rock and roll groupie who leads custom-themed, private tours of L.A. My Cece Caruso series features a 40ish ex-beauty queen from New Jersey, who writes biographies of dead mystery authors. Both my protagonists are amateur sleuths obsessed with fashion, old movies, and other people’s business…with fatal consequences.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

SK: Dreama’s 1980s video vixen mom, Desiree, is my favorite because she’s closest to my age, and, I’m not ashamed to admit it, I still want to be Tawny Kitaen (I own a white leotard and filmy dress, if anyone’s interested…)

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

SK: The original impetus of the series was my curiosity about “Sharona," the girl who was the inspiration for The Knack’s hit song from the ‘80s, “My Sharona.” And I wound up creating my own “girl in the song,” Dreama Black, who inspired the hit song, “Dreama, Little Dreama,” that wound up ruining her life... (As it turns out, Sharona is a real estate broker in L.A. and I’ve been to one of her open houses!)

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

SK: I was lucky enough to have a publisher that wanted to take a chance on me, after a big gap between this book and the last book in my previous series.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

SK: Oscar Wilde, Edith Wharton, Dorothy Parker, and Patricia Highsmith.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?


Kathy:  Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

SK: Reading, above all else. After that, Pilates, hiking, biking, cooking, traveling, and vintage shopping.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

SK: Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies and pre-peeled garlic, because a girl needs Caesar salad.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

SK: I am already working on the next Dreama Black adventure, which involves organizing a tour of spiritual/New Age L.A. for a group of yoga mommies from Orange County.

Kathy:  What's your favorite thing about being an author?

SK: Everything! Getting to be creative on a daily basis, getting to entertain people, getting to work at your own pace, on your own time, and getting to work ALONE!


Dream A Little Death

by Susan Kandel

on Tour May 23 - June 23, 2017


From critically acclaimed author Susan Kandel comes a charming new mystery featuring Dreama Black and a cast of zany LA-based characters.

The first time I set eyes on Miles McCoy, I worried he might try to eat me. He was the size and girth of a North American grizzly, with long, silver-tipped hair, a long silver-tipped beard, and small dark eyes that bore into me like I was a particularly fine specimen of Chinook salmon. It couldn't have helped that I'd used a honey scrub the morning we met. I should've known better. Not just about the scrub, but about a lot of things.
Like braving the freeway during rush hour.
Like thinking you can't get a ticket for parking at a broken meter.
Like racing up to his penthouse in gladiator sandals, and expecting not to twist an ankle.
Like watching his fiancée shoot herself, and assuming it was suicide, instead of murder.
Meet Dreama Black. A 28 year-old, third-generation groupie trying to figure out who she is after being publicly dumped by the rock god whose mega-hit, "Dreama, Little Dreama" made the name and the girl world-famous. Now Dreama supports herself by running custom-designed, themed tours of her hometown of L.A. When she is hired by a Raymond Chandler-obsessed rap producer to create a "L.A. noir" tour as his present to his soon-to-be bride, Dreama gets pulled into the middle of a possible murder, corrupt cops, and an unforgettable pair of femme fatales.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: May 23rd 2017
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 0062674994 (ISBN13: 9780062674999)
Series: A Dreama Black Mystery, 1
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1
The first time I set eyes on Miles McCoy, I worried he might try to eat me. He was the size and girth of a North American grizzly bear, with long silver-tipped hair, a long silver-tipped beard, and small dark eyes that bore into me like I was a particularly fine specimen of Chinook salmon. It couldn’t have helped that I’d used a honey scrub the morning we met. I should’ve known better. Not just about the scrub, but about a lot of things.
Like braving the freeway during rush hour.
Like thinking you can’t get a ticket for parking at a broken meter.
Like racing up to his penthouse in Balenciaga gladiator sandals, and expecting not to twist an ankle.
Like watching his fiancée shoot herself, and assuming it was suicide, instead of murder.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, which is another thing I should know better about. Because if I’ve learned anything at all from my study of film noir (which got me into the whole sordid Miles McCoy mess to begin with), it is to tell the story in the precise order in which it happened.
The trouble started the day before, which was Valentine’s Day, a pagan holiday named after the Roman priest who defied Claudius II by marrying Christian couples. After being hauled off in shackles, the soft-hearted cleric was beaten with clubs, stoned, and when that didn’t finish him off, publicly beheaded. Makes you think.
It had poured rain for eight days running, which isn’t what you sign on for when you live in Los Angeles. But that morning, as I stepped outside for a run, the sun was blinding—so blinding, in fact, that I didn’t see the fragrant valentine my neighbor’s dog, Engelbart, had left on the stoop for me. Not that I minded spending the next twenty minutes cleaning the grooves of my running shoe with a chopstick. It was a beautiful day. The rollerbladers were cruising the Venice boardwalk. The scent of medical marijuana was wafting through the air. Engelbart’s gastrointestinal tract was sound.
An hour later, I hopped into my mint green 1975 Mercedes convertible, and made my way up Lincoln to the freeway. I was headed to Larchmont, an incongruous stretch of Main Street, USA, sandwiched between Hollywood and Koreatown. This was where studio executives’ wives and their private school daughters came for green juice, yoga pants, and the occasional wrench from the general store that had served Hancock Park since the 1930s. It was also where my mother and grandmother ran Cellar Door, known for its chia seed porridge and life-positive service. I helped out whenever my coffers were running low. Which was most of the time.
You are probably frowning right about now. Surely a young woman who owns a classic convertible—as well as Balenciaga gladiators—should not be perennially low on funds. But it’s true.
The car came from my grandmother, who received it as part of her third (fourth?) divorce settlement and gave it to me as a gift when I strong-armed my mother into rehab for the fourth (fifth?) time. The sandals I purchased online in a frenzy of self-loathing shortly after watching my ex-boyfriend the rock god serenading his current girlfriend the supermodel on an otherwise uneventful episode of Ellen. I’d tried to return the sandals, but one of the studs had fallen off, making them damaged goods. Like their owner. Not that I’m hard on myself. It’s just that my career—I take clients on custom-designed, private tours of my hometown of L.A.—wasn’t exactly thriving, which is why I was easy prey for the likes of Miles McCoy. But I’m getting ahead of myself again. Here comes the good part. The part where I’m driving like the wind and almost don’t notice the flashing lights in my mirror. I knew I should have fixed that taillight.
I pulled over, cut the motor, handed the cop my license and registration. He looked down, then did a double take. “Dreama Black?”
That would be me.
“The Dreama Black?” he continued. “As in ‘Dreama, Little Dreama’?”
Perhaps I should explain.
I am a twenty-eight-year-old, third-generation rock ’n’ roll groupie—or “muse,” as the women in my family like to put it.
My grandmother, a fine-boned blonde who never met a gossamer shawl or Victorian boot she didn’t like, spent the sixties sleeping her way through Laurel Canyon, winding up in a house on Rothdell Trail (a.k.a. “Love Street”) purchased for her by a certain lead singer of a certain iconic band whose name is the plural of the thing that hits you on the way out.
My mother, blessed with thick, dark tresses and a way with mousse, was consort to many of the pseudo-androgynous alpha males of American hair metal, her chief claim to fame an MTV video in which she writhed across the hood of a Porsche wearing a white leotard and black, thigh-high boots. She also bought Axl Rose his first kilt.
As for me, well, I was on my way to freshman orientation when this guy I’d been seeing, who’d played a couple of no-name clubs with some friends from summer camp, intercepted me at LAX, put his lips to my ear, and hummed the opening bars of a new song I’d apparently inspired. Instead of boarding the plane for Berkeley, I boarded the tour bus with Luke Cutt and the other skinny, pimply members of Rocket Science. Four world tours, three hit albums, two Grammys, and one breakup later, “Dreama, Little Dreama”—an emo pop anthem that went gold in seven days and has sold eleven million copies to date—had made me almost famous forever.
“Step out of the car, please.”
The cop removed his sunglasses. Peach fuzz. Straight out of the academy. “So.”
He wanted to get a picture with me.
“I’d love to get a picture with you,” he said.
I smoothed down my cut-offs and striped T-shirt, removed my red Ray-Bans, ran my fingers through my long, straight, freshly balayaged auburn hair. The cop put his arm around me, leaned in close, took a couple of snaps on his phone. Let me guess. He’d had a crush on me since tenth grade, when he saw me in a white tank and no bra on the cover of Rocket Science’s debut C.D., and now he was going to post the pictures on Instagram to show all his buddies.
“Awesome.” He gave me a brotherly punch on the arm. “No way is my wife going to believe this. She’s crazy about Luke Cutt. Hey, is he really dating that Victoria’s Secret Angel? She is smoking hot.”
At least I didn’t get the ticket.

Excerpt from Dream A Little Death by Susan Kandel. Copyright © 2017 by Susan Kandel. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

An Agatha, Edgar, and SCIBA nominee, Susan Kandel is the author of the nationally best-selling and critically acclaimed Cece Caruso series, the most recent of which, Dial H for Hitchcock (Morrow), was named by NPR as one of the five best mysteries of the year. A Los Angeles native, she was trained as an art historian, taught at NYU and UCLA, and spent a decade as an art critic at the Los Angeles Times. When not writing, she volunteers as a court-appointed advocate for foster children, and loves to explore secret, forgotten, and kitschy L.A. She lives with her husband in West Hollywood.

Catch Up With Our Author On: Website , Goodreads , Twitter , & Facebook !


Tour Participants:


Here's Your Chance to WIN!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Susan Kandel and Harper Collins. There will be 5 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Dream A Little Death by Susan Kandel. The giveaway begins on May 23rd and runs through June 27th 2017
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 Be sure to stop back tomorrow to read my review of DREAM A LITTLE DEATH.


  1. Going to have to read this one since My Sharona was a favorite song of my son when he was small.

  2. Fun interview, Kathy! (The questions I would come up with were so lame, that I stopped doing them. Yours are good ones.)


    1. Thanks so much. I'm glad you enjoyed it!