Frequently Asked Questions
So tell us about your new book.
Well, it continues the Double Feature mystery series, and this time, Alison has to deal with a ghostly client who thinks he might have had a hand in a murder, but isn't sure because he's blind. But it's funny. Really.
It's about 6.5x4" and has 304 pages. You didn't even read the cover before this interview, did you?
Did you always want to be a writer?
I started writing when I was a kid, so I guess so. It wasn't until I went to college and worked on the student newspaper that I started realizing you could make a living at this. Sort of.
The fact is, I've always BEEN a writer, because I've been writing since I could hold a pencil without help. Actually, I started out wanting to play second base for the New York Yankees (ANYBODY had to be better than Horace Clarke!), and then to be Superman--or was it the other way around? If I'd known how hard it would be to make tuition payments would I have chosen this job? I'm sorry, what was the question?
Where do you get your ideas?
The Lillian Vernon catalog. You buy three ideas, and the shipping is free! No, seriously, I get ideas when I'm not trying to get ideas--in the shower, waiting to fall asleeep, in the check-out line. The trick is to recognize them when they happen.
How the hell do I know where I get ideas? It's not like I sit down and go, "Okay, it's book idea time!" If I knew where I got ideas, I could get one anytime I wanted.
What's the first thing you wrote?
My first piece of crime fiction was for a course I took as an undergraduate at Rutgers College. The private eye, oddly enough, was named Elliot Freed.
I believe it was "A," on a piece of lined paper in first grade. Followed by "B".
Would you please read my manuscript? I'm sure you could get it published!
Honestly, I'd love to, but I'm under a book deadline myself, and I simply don't have the time.
We just met five minutes ago. Besides, who made me Simon or Schuster? I'm lucky I can get a blog published.
Why does the cover of your book have a big cat on it, when there's almost no cat in the book?
The black cat is supposed to signal that something ominous is going on in the story, and that danger is lurking in even the most innocent-seeming places.
Don't get me started.
Why do you write mysteries?
The genre is such a microcosm of our society, don't you think? I mean, it's so satisfying when the culprit is brought to justice at the end of the book, and the crime itself is a comment on the inhumanity we sometimes exhibit toward each other. I think crime fiction really holds a mirror up to our society.
It's what I can sell. And by the way, why do you sell insurance? Are you implying that I should go get a REAL job?
How do you add comedy to murder?
You really don't. Murder isn't funny. It's the reaction of people to the crime that can be funny. But if you try to create a "funny murder," you're doomed to write a contrived book that screams "laugh at me" instead of a real comedy.
Have the victim slip on a banana peel. That always gets a laugh.
Why aren't your books more popular?
It's a struggle to promote your own work. The publishing company is overworked, and their publicists simply don't have the time or the money to adequately make a stir over every title they put out. For an author on his own, it's very difficult to get noticed, especially in this competitive market and an economic time when people don't have as much money to spend on entertainment as they used to.
Thanks for reminding me how unsuccessful I am, pal. I think I'll go have a quick hemlock for lunch.
Which one of your books is your favorite?
Which one of your children is your favorite? Honestly, I don't have a favorite. They each offer something that I think is unique, and which one you like best will certainly have more bearing on what you like to read, rather than what I think of it. What do you like to read?
As Dog Is My Witness or A Night at the Operation.
Which one of your books should I buy?
Well, that will depend, again, on what you like to read. You don't have to read any of the series in order. I'm very careful to make sure that someone coming in on any of the books will not need prior knowledge to enjoy it.
The latest one. So my sales numbers will go up.
Say something funny.
Oh, go away.