Welcome to BK Walker Books Etc. I'm so happy you could join me today with Lauren Carr at her mountaintop home in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
BK: Please tell us a little about yourself...
LC: The easiest way to describe Lauren Carr is in a bullet. “Lauren Carr is a middle-aged church lady who writes murder mysteries.”
My mother used to read Perry Mason to me at bedtime. She was not into Dick and Jane. I’ve always been a reader and a writer. When I started reading, I would rewrite the book’s storyline in my head. It was only natural for me to start writing my own books … and since I cut my teeth on murder mysteries … What else could I write.
The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award. A Reunion to Die For was released in hardback in June 2007. Both of these books are in re-release.
The Mac Faraday Mysteries takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in this series, It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. The next book in this series, Shades of Murder, was released last month. That is my fifth mystery.
BK: Please tell us a little about your book....
LC: In Shade of Murder, we have two mysteries to solve simultaneously.
In Deep Creek Lake, Mac Faraday is once again the heir to an unbelievable fortune. This time the benefactor is a stolen art collector. But this isn’t just any stolen work-of-art—it’s a masterpiece with a murder attached to it.
Ilysa Ramsay was in the midst of taking the art world by storm with her artistic genius. Hours after unveiling her latest canvas, which she has declared to be her masterpiece—she is found dead in her studio on the shores of Deep Creek Lake in Maryland; and her painting is nowhere to be found.
A decade later, the long lost Ilysa Ramsay masterpiece has found its way into Mac Faraday’s hands and he can’t resist the urge to delve into the case.
Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; former JAG lawyer Joshua Thornton is tasked with granting a condemned serial killer’s last wish—solve a murder wrongly attributed to him. He finds an unexpected ally in Cameron Gates, a spunky detective who has reason to believe the young woman known to the media only as Jane Doe, Victim Number Four, was the victim of a copycat. Together, Joshua and Cameron set out to light a flame under the cold case only to find that someone behind the scenes wants the case to remain cold, and is willing to kill to keep it that way.
Little do these detectives know that the paths of their respective cases are on a collision course as they follow the clues to bring them together in a showdown with killer who’s got a talent for murder!
BK: What inspired you to pen this particular novel?
LC: The request of readers of my first mystery series, the Joshua Thornton mysteries.
I was at a different stage of my life when I wrote A Small Case of Murder and A Reunion to Die For. Those books are more serious and heavier. They have a completely different tone. Former JAG lawyer, Joshua Thornton is a widower with five children. He feels clueless as a father.
The Mac Faraday mysteries are lighter and there is more humor. Mac is a homicide detective whose wife leaves him and takes everything. On the day his divorce becomes final, he inherits $270 million dollars and an estate on Deep Creek Lake.
Different strokes for different strokes. I had some readers wanting me to return to Joshua Thornton. So, after some thought, I decided to include Joshua in my next Deep Creek Lake mystery. I had to really think about where Joshua was at this stage in his life. It’s been five years since I had written A Reunion to Die For. Not only am I in a different place, so is Joshua. His children are leaving the nest. He’s got more independence and is ready for some romance in his life.
Since Joshua and Mac don’t know each other, I had to come up with two murder mysteries that, on the surface, don’t appear to be connected, and then have there be a connection to bring them together. Coming up with this puzzle was a lot of fun.
Shades of Murder actually introduces two characters that I will use in my next book, Dead on Ice, which will come out this fall: Joshua Thornton and Cameron Gates.
BK: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
LC: That’s a difficult question to answer. I think I started thinking of myself as a writer when I saw my income tax return and found that my husband had listed my employment as “Writer”.
BK: How do you keep your story flowing?
LC: When I get bored writing it, I assume the reader will get bored reading it. That’s when I know I need to mix things up.
BK: Do you ever run into writer's block, and if so, what do you do to get past it?
LC: Oh, yes! Once, for more than a year I stared at the computer screen.
It was between drafts of It’s Murder, My Son. My father-in-law had passed away. I was looking for a new publisher because my traditional publisher for A Reunion to Die For did not do paperback at that time. They were willing to take It’s Murder, My Son, but I knew my next book had to come out in paperback. It is very hard to sell a $26 hardback when you’re an unknown.
After a year of penning nothing, I decided to quit writing. I walked away. I did volunteer work. I cooked. I exercised. Within a month, I was back at the computer. Then, I had an uh-huh moment and realized with all of my professional experience editing, layout design, journalism, why could I not independently publish my own books? I decided to publish my own books and forget about making best sellers lists or impressing literary agents or publishers. I was going to write what I want and if others want to read it, fine. If not, so what? I started writing for myself.
One month later, I received an offer from a traditional publisher for It’s Murder, My Son. I turned them down.
What was the secret to getting over my writers block? American poet William Stafford offers this advice to poets who suffer from Writer's Block: "There is no such thing as writer's block for writers whose standards are low enough." This sounds terrible at first. "What? I'm supposed to write junk? I need to write the great American Novel! I'm better than that!" No, Stafford is not encouraging writers to produce garbage. He is suggesting, however, that it's easy to take yourself too seriously. When I walked away, when I stopped trying to find the next great publisher, when I stopped trying to impress literary agents and publishers and decided to write what I want for myself, my writers block went away and I am now the happiest writer in the world.
BK: What is your writing process like? Do you have any quirks, or must-haves to write?
LC: I’m always one book ahead. Right now, while I’m editing Dead on Ice, I am thinking about my next Mac Faraday mystery. I haven’t written a word. I’ll think about the murder and story-line and developing the characters while doing mindless tasks like cleaning up the kitchen and folding clothes. My husband has said that when suddenly a bunch of things get fixed about the house (I’m the fix-it lady in the house), he knows I’m working on a murder in my mind.
About the time that Dead on Ice is released in the fall, I’ll be ready to sit down to write my next mystery. It will take a couple of months of writing, three months of editing, and then six weeks before it will be released in the spring.
Quirks. My dogs, Ziggy (Australian Shepherd) and Beagle Bailey are my muses. They follow me and my laptop everywhere. I write everywhere--a writer’s studio, the master suite, the living room in front of the fire. My muses are always at my feet while I’m writing.
BK: Where do you hope your books/writing will be in the future?
LC: I’d love to see one of my series made into a series. It would be great to have the Mac Faraday mysteries shot on Deep Creek Lake.
BK: What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
LC: An escape. The mystery is a literary puzzle that readers have the joy of putting together to take their minds off their problems and the stresses in their lives and have a sense of satisfaction when they read that last line.
BK: What is one piece of advice you received that you carry with you in your writing?
LC: Never give up.
BK: What is one piece of advice you would give to new and aspiring writers?
LC: Writers are born. If you’re a writer, you’re going to be writing. You’re going to be making up stories, telling stories, putting storylines together. Even if you’re not published anywhere, you’re still going to be writing. No one is going to stop you because they can’t stop you because that’s what you are. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
BK: Are you currently working on any new projects? What can we expect from you in the future?
LC: Dead on Ice is coming this fall. Dead on Ice introduces a new series featuring Joshua Thornton and Cameron Gates. In Dead on Ice, Pennsylvania State homicide detective Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of a porn star whose mummified remains are found in an abandoned freezer in Joshua’s cousin’s basement.
For this book tour, I am holding a contest for readers to name the female porn star found in the freezer. Not only are they to supply the stage name the star used in her films, but her real name from her childhood in the Chester, West Virginia/Pittsburgh area. The winner will receive all three Deep Creek Lake mysteries, plus a print edition of Dead on Ice upon its release, as well as a Lovers in Crime coffee mug. Contest is running from June 1-July 31.
Readers are to submit their entries to me via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line is to read Name the Porn Star. Be sure to include your name, e-mail address, and mailing address. The winner will be decided by me and my muses.
BK: Where can readers find you?
LC: Readers can find me and my books at http://mysterylady.net. They can also find out about my publishing company Acorn Book Services at http://acornbookservices.com/.
Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today. It's been a pleasure having you and I wish you much success in the future.
Giveaway: A copy of Shades of Murder (print (US only) or e-book, winner’s choice. Leave a comment for Lauren with your email address to enter, winner will be announced July 9th.
Praise for Lauren Carr
It’s Murder, My Son
“To say this novel is a page-turner is an understatement.” Edie Dykeman, BelleOnline Mystery Book Editor
“It's Murder, My Son is not a read that should be missed for mystery fans.” Midwest Book Reviews
Old Loves Die Hard
“Carr keeps the plot twisting and turning so guessing the bad guy is quite a challenge. Mac's wry humor adds just the right seasoning to make a well-rounded mystery.” Maria Waddell, To Read, Perchance to Dream
A Small Case of Murder
“A Small Case of Murder is a GRAND case of murder.” New Mystery Reader.
Shades of Murder
Question: What do you get the man with everything?
Answer: When that man is the heir of the late mystery writer Robin Spencer, retired homicide detective Mac Faraday, you get him cold case to solve.
In Shades of Murder, Mac Faraday is once again the heir to an unbelievable fortune. This time the benefactor is a stolen art collector. But this isn’t just any stolen work-of-art—it’s a masterpiece with a murder attached to it.
Ilysa Ramsay was in the midst of taking the art world by storm with her artistic genius. Hours after unveiling her latest masterpiece—she is found dead in her Deep Creek Lake studio—and her painting is nowhere to be found.
Almost a decade later, the long lost Ilysa Ramsay masterpiece has found its way into Mac Faraday’s hands and he can’t resist the urge to delve into the case.
A world away, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; former JAG lawyer Joshua Thornton agrees to do a favor for the last person he would ever expect to do a favor—a convicted serial killer.
The Favor: Solve the one murder wrongly attributed to him.
Joshua finds an unexpected ally in Cameron Gates, a spunky detective who has reason to believe the young woman known to the media only as Jane Doe, Victim Number Four, was the victim of a copycat. Together, Joshua and Cameron set out to light a flame under the cold case only to find that someone behind the scenes wants the case to remain cold, and is willing to kill to keep it that way.
Little do these detectives know that the paths of their respective cases are on a collision course when they follow the clues to bring them together in a showdown with a killer who’s got a talent for murder!
Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award. A Reunion to Die For was released in hardback in June 2007. Both of these books are in re-release.
Lauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in her series, It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. The next book in this series, Shades of Murder, will be released May 2012. This will be Lauren’s fifth mystery.
Lauren’s sixth book, Dead on Ice, will be released in Fall 2012. Dead on Ice will introduce a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, in which Joshua Thornton will join forces with homicide detective Cameron Gates.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This spring, two books written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.
She lives with her husband, son, and two dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Follow the Tour - http://www.virtualbooktourcafe.com/3/post/2012/04/shades-of-murder-by-lauren-carr.html