I’m thrilled to welcome LynDee Walker back to Lit, etc! I first interviewed her in June about Front Page Fatality and she’s here to talk a bit about Buried Leads (reviewed here) and her upcoming novella “Dateline Memphis” which is part of the Heartache Motel anthology (December 2013).
Q. Hi LynDee, welcome back to Lit, etc! As you know, the first question I ask authors is to tell me something about themselves that isn’t on their standard bio / website. Since I asked that question last time, are there any occupational hazards to being an author?
Thank you so much for having me! I love this blog and am so excited to be here!
Other than too much time in front of the computer, I can’t think of any. Well, except there was the one day that my son could have gotten me arrested. We were scouting locations for a body to turn up and he announced (as loudly as an excited five-year-old boy does) “Hey mommy! You could put a dead body up there!” In the middle of a public park. We got looks. Not one called the police, which I’m slightly disturbed by, really. I mean, Charles Manson didn’t used to look like a nutjob, either, you know?
Q. Now that you’ve two published novels with a third set to be released 2014 along with an upcoming novella, do you still experience pre-release jitters? Is there anything about the publication process that is easier this time when compared to Front Page Fatality?
I think the jitters were better in some ways this time and worse in others. The first time around, I had all the first-time author angst and self doubt. But I really wasn’t sure anyone would buy the book, and no one knew who Nichelle was. Or who I was. This time, there were readers waiting for this book. It was nerve-wracking, wondering if I’d met my “write a better book every time” goal. I love that people are enjoying it!
Q. Front Page Fatality is now available as an audiobook (so exciting!) Did you have any input choosing the narrator? If so, did you confer with the potential narrator(s) (assuming there was more than one) about how to portray your characters?
It is super exciting! And I did not have any say in the narrator (or even know when it released. Someone tweeted it and a friend emailed me) but I’m very happy with the finished product. Nichelle talks to a lot of people, and I think Reay Kaplan does a simply beautiful job of keeping all the voices and dialogue straight.
Q. It must be fascinating for an author to experience the non-print outcomes of your novels; from fan art to suggested playlists, etc. I tend to think of audiobooks as part of that experience because an audiobook can have a profound impact on a reader’s experience. You’ve spent so much time with the characters and they sound a certain way in your head. Be truthful, is it strange to hear someone perform the words you’ve written?
YES! It’s wild to hear someone else’s interpretation of them. The inflections are not always as I imagined them, but how could they be? She’s not inside my head. It’s fascinating to listen to someone else’s interpretation, and hear how they imagine the characters. I love it.
Speaking of art, I also love the minimalist character posters you did here on Literary, etc. It’s wonderfully flattering to see that people connected with my characters enough to be inspired to create something. Thank you!
Q. Let’s talk a bit about Buried Leads. Without giving any spoilers, do you have a favorite line, scene, or chapter?
I have a few, but dodging the spoilers will be tricky. Can I say there’s a kissing scene I have a real soft spot for? Does that give away too much?
And the scenes with Troy and Joyce Wright, too: the part where Troy comes to the newsroom and they talk about when you can use a quote as your lead. That came from real life, and I love that scene.
Also, the scene where she talks to Parker about his baseball career. And every time she talks to Lucinda Eckersly. She was a super fun character to write.
Q. While writing Buried Leads, did anything surprise you?
I never fail to be surprised as I write, because I refuse to outline. It’s not fun if I do. I start with a general idea of where I’m going: who did it and how, and how to get Nichelle to them, but everything else is as much fun for me as it is for y’all. People say “and then there was this great plot twist” and I feel like I have a big head when I reply with “I KNOW! That was so fun!” So I have to follow up quickly with the explanation that I didn’t see it coming, either. I often find myself in front of the computer going “Huh. Would you look at that? I didn’t know they were going to do THAT.”
In Buried Leads, without spoilers, I’ll say the scene right before the kiss was one of those. I didn’t think of it ’til it showed up on the page. But it fits.
Q. Readers will notice Nichelle’s investigative kit in Buried Leads and I imagine the items in the kit growing as the series progresses. Did you ever carry such a kit when you were a reporter?
Not anything like she has. But I didn’t get into such serious scrapes, either. I did always have a notebook, a pen, and a flashlight, though.
Q. As you know, Joey is my favorite character and the one I find most intriguing. What character have readers asked you the most about? Which left an impression on them and does it surprise you?
Probably Joey. Women, in particular, really seem to love him. I’m so glad, and it’s so funny: he wasn’t supposed to be there. I intended for him to be a minor character in Front Page, only in one scene. And then he wouldn’t go away, and now Nichelle and I are attached to him. I’m so glad y’all like him. He’s great fun to write. I learned while writing the third book that he can cook!
Q. You’ve written a novella that appears in the upcoming anthology Heartache Motel (December 2013). Who came up with the idea for the interconnecting novellas? Did you exchange copious amounts of emails / phone calls with Terri Austin and Larissa Reinhart during the writing process? Or did you just focus primarily on your own writing and then at some point confer with them?
OMG, the emails! We did email a lot. We actually came up with the whole thing on Twitter one night. Henery had just released another set of novellas at that time, and we thought it was such a great concept.
“Oh, we should send Rose and Cherry and Nichelle somewhere together!” we said. We wanted a central location, and I suggested Graceland, because I have very fond memories of a trip there. Then Ris went and pitched it to our editor, and a year later, it’s almost ready to release! Wow.
We had a great time emailing about the setting and secondary characters. We all wrote independently, and then went back and tweaked the stories as needed.
Q. Speaking of Heartache Motel, did you approach writing the novella “Dateline Memphis” differently from your full length novels? And was the process more or less daunting?
I would say more, because I’d never done it before. I started off thinking it’d be easy, but it’s tricky, getting a whole plot into 100 pages! My editor said “you don’t have room for a single spare word. Everything must move the story.” Which is great wisdom for any book, no matter its length, but especially true for a novella. The pace is even faster, because she can’t have downtime. There’s no room in the story for it.
Q. And finally, you’ve been given the task to host a last minute dinner party. Which authors are on your ultimate dinner invitation list? Alive or Dead.
Oh, gosh! How many can I invite?
I can seat 6 at my table, so I’ll go with that.
Laura Levine (I love her work, and she’s been so wonderful to me)
Agatha Christie (I bet she’d be so interesting)
Stephen King (I’m a longtime fan, and he seems like he’d have the most fabulous stories)
Harley Jane Kozak (she’s as gracious and sweet as she is pretty and talented, and would be a great conversationalist, I bet)
Harlan Coben (I got to meet him this year and he’s charming and funny. He’d be the life of the party.)
And last but not least, Larissa Reinhart, so someone could be starstruck with me.
01. American accent or British accent?
British is sexier.
02. Fair or theme park?
Theme park! I’m a Disney nerd.
03. Oreos or Chip Ahoy?
Oreos. You know they proved the filling is as addictive as crack?
04. Titanic or The Notebook?
Hmmmm. The Notebook. I love the unconditional, lifetime love story.
05. Cake or pie?
Cake. Chocolate, with buttercream frosting.
06. Jazz or Classical?
Jazz. I like happy music.
07. Godzilla or King Kong?
Kong is scarier, so I’d rather run from Godzilla. I love all the old, badly-dubbed Japanese films. My mom was a big sci-fi fan and we watched them together a lot.
LynDee Walker grew up in the land of stifling heat and amazing food most people call Texas, and wanted to be Lois Lane from the time she could say the words “press conference.” An award-winning journalist, LynDee traded cops and deadlines for burp cloths and onesies when her oldest child was born. Writing the Headlines in High Heels mysteries gives her the best of both worlds. LynDee is a member of Sisters in Crime and James River Writers. BURIED LEADS is her second Headlines in High Heels mystery. Her debut, FRONT PAGE FATALITY, is an amazon multi-chart #1 bestseller. A Headlines in High Heels novella will be in the anthology HEARTACHE MOTEL, on sale Dec. 10, 2013, and the third novel in the series, SMALL TOWN SPIN, is coming in April 2014.
LynDee adores her family, her readers, and enchiladas. She often works out tricky plot points while walking off the enchiladas. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she is working on her next novel. You can find her online at www.lyndeewalker.com.