1. So, let’s start with the basics; what got you into writing?
Reading! I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a kid. In the end, I started writing more of what I wanted to read.
2. I’m judging only by your posted sample chapter, so I could be way off the mark here, but it looks like the Riga Hayworth books are a fusion of romance, mystery, and modern fantasy. Do you consider yourself primarily a fantasy writer who does romantic mysteries, or a mystery writer who does romantic fantasy
Funny you should ask, as I’ve been doing a bit of a reassessment of how to classify my books. I’ve always considered myself a mystery writer first, but the fantasy and romance are certainly big components.
3. How autobiographical or aspirational is Riga as a character?
While we share some life experiences (we both worked in Afghanistan), she’s definitely more aspirational. Riga is very self-confident, focused, and doesn’t care what others think of her. I’d like a bit more of all those qualities in my personality.
4. I haven’t read the book yet, but the title “The Infernal Detective” makes me think there’s going to be demonic elements to the book. Is your mythos based around a (possibly quasi-) Judeo-Christian ethic, or is there some other cosmology to your world?
The books do contain some mysticism and philosophy based in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and Riga is a Christian. But for obvious reasons, I really try to stay clear of religion in the books. The Infernal Detective has to do with necromancy, but it also has to do with Riga’s own internal struggle with good and evil – hence the “infernal” in the title.
5. When writing a mystery, how do you construct the murder? Do you think of the crime first, or do you write the story and watch the crime evolve?
After watching my editor swap my scenes around in my two previous books, I learned to become a plotter. I know whodunnit, how, and why before I start writing. It’s not a super-detailed outline – I leave myself some wiggle room for inspiration to strike. But especially with mysteries, when you’re scattering clues and red herrings, plotting in advance is useful.
6. Let’s talk about influences. I’m seeing a lot of Laurell K. Hamilton in your style of writing; I’m guessing you’re a fan? If not, what authors do you think influenced your writing?
I’ve actually never read any of her books, BUT I have taken online classes from Margie Lawson, who uses Laurell K. Hamilton as an example in her lessons, so maybe some LKH has crept in? My biggest influence is Ian Rankin. I love his sparse, powerful writing style. And… Nancy Drew. Those books were a childhood inspiration, and every darn chapter ends with a cliffhanger. My goal is to keep readers turning the page.
7. You’re the first author I’ve seen to launch an alternate-reality game (ARG) as a promotion with their book. Talk to me a little bit about how your ARG is structured, and what sort of feedback you’ve seen on how effective it’s been.
I thought it would be a fun way for fans to get into the Riga Hayworth world, and pick up some back story that doesn’t make it into the books. So I created blogs and social media accounts for several of the minor characters. Careful readers will find links from one account/blog to the other. And then there’s a sort of puzzle throughout – if players can identify the five items in the junk oracle Livinia is creating, they can get a free copy of the book by going to my website and letting me know. How effective has it been? Well, it caught your eye! - That’s fair enough. It certainly did.
8. How many books are planned for the Riga Hayworth series? Is this going to be an evolving world, or more a more episodic series of books?
Definitely evolving! I’m currently working on Book 5 and have an idea for Book 6. One of the things that bugs me about series is that often the lead characters don’t develop – they just make the same stupid mistakes over and over. They can be very formulaic. I’m trying to avoid that, by creating character arcs that play out over several books and are then resolved. BUT, let’s face it – a lot of these more formulaic series are huge successes. So maybe I’m the one making a stupid mistake. I just don’t want to get bored with my own characters. I want to see them grow!
9. When can we expect the next release?
Book 5, The Elemental Detective, is scheduled for release in December, 2013. It takes place in Kauai. Making a tropical paradise spooky is not easy, but I think I’m finally cracking the code…